Pebble Beach and the Popeye Principle

“I Yam what I Yam”
Popeye

We are in the midst of enduring the least watchable golf tournament on television The A T and T Pebble Beach Pro Am ( at least the first three rounds). It’s a parade of pseudo celebrities, corporate big wigs and various figures from the world of sports. Some might be big shots in their spheres of influence but most are mostly marginal when it comes to hitting golf shots.

The “TV people” torture us by shoving these folks down our throats when, for goodness sake, “Phil is GOING LOW over at MPCC!”

Here’s a news flash… The production people in the CBS trucks couldn’t care less that you’re upset and I’m okay with that.

This event used to be about the intriguing combination of golf’s great players, Hollywood and sport’s biggest stars and one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It’s not CBS golf’s fault that the field is diminished and the stars don’t burn quite as bright. They don’t pick who gets invited. But it is still one of earth’s most glorious backdrops and I applaud the production team for staying true to the tournament’s roots. I know what I’m getting going in so I watch in spite of that or I don’t watch at all. Other people complain. That would be like eating at Golden Corral and complaining that the lines are long and the steak is tough.

Once upon a time we got “Der Bingle”, Jack Lemmon, Clint Eastwood and Joe DiMaggio. Now we get “Boomer”, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano and Tom Brady. A downgrade for sure but again CBS doesn’t care. Friday was another salvo of showing semi stars and backscratching business bigwigs. Mix in a few painful interviews with the guys who “put Irish golf on the map”, a hundred shots of the Pacific Ocean (with or without ocean dwellers) and you have CBS’ vision of a cable golf show. Then golf’s version of a carnival barkers sideshow moves to network television and we get the same beauty shots and painful interviews, this time with what amounts to the “A listers” these days. Oh and don’t forget those unforgettable swing analyses.

But you have to understand it’s all part of a calculated plan. CBS will broadcast 22 PGA TOUR events in 2016. That’s 88 television shows. They are more than happy to take three of them, compartmentalize them in a tiny, mostly unwatchable, box and slap an “open at your own peril” stamp on it. Producer Lance Barrow said as much to Martin Kaufmann in a recent Golfweek article ( http://www.golfweek.com ). Again I’m absolutely fine with that. I’m not shocked that people still watch it but I am slightly surprised that they still watch, then complain.

Sunday is mostly pros but amateurs are sprinkled in. After all it IS the A T and T Pebble Beach National PRO-AM! It’s been that way forever, it’ll be that way forevermore, watch or save yourself the aggravation and don’t. It IS what it IS.

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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