The Back of the Range Golf Podcast

Weekly interviews from prominent amateurs, coaches, and personalities from the game of golf!

The Match: Sometimes Par is Good Enough to Win

"1981 Fort Washington Golf Club, Fresno, California......Ring a Bell?"

If you haven't memorized every line from the 1996 film Tin Cup like I have, please allow me to briefly explain. Roy McAvoy's caddie, Romeo, reminds him of his disastrous 13 in the final round of Q-School where he attempted an impossible shot from a hilly lie that prevented him from making it on to the tour. It was bold...yet foolish.

The Match, featuring Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, had several moments to remember. Some were bold, some were foolish....but I'm sure glad I tuned in and had no problem forking over $20 to do so.

I wasn't expecting great golf from either Tiger or Phil. It's the end of November. At the end of a long year, I did not see them rattling off birdies all day no matter how easy Shadow Creek was setup. And truthfully, did it really matter? Tiger gave us a "Tiger-moment" with his chip-in birdie on 17. Phil hit some "tasty morsels" on the center-line of several fairways. These guys have banked enough memorable moments over their careers, so they get a pass for being rather average at Shadow Creek.

Phil is made for The Match. In fact, he should be the point person for "The Match Task Force" for the next 10 years. He should find a comedy writer to help bolster his collection of funny quips, but other than that.....this could be another chapter in Phil's legacy. Definitely behind all of the majors, but monumentally more important than introducing dress shirts to the world of golf fashion.

The qualities that made Tiger the greatest player of this generation allowed him to capture 14 majors, 80 wins, and the imagination of the golf world. Most of his records will stand, some will fall....but his intense focus, ability to intimidate the competition will never be surpassed. Unfortunately, those qualities don't exactly make Tiger the most riveting character in a PPV event. I don't want to see Tiger being awkward with forced jokes and fabricated conversations. I want to see a focused Tiger that wants to crush the hopes and dreams of his opponents. You want to get the most out of Tiger in one of these events? Let him play golf and get him some supporting characters to help with the hype.

How do we do that? Well, if the organizers for Match 2.0 decide to call, I better be prepared with some answers. Here are a few that I would like to submit:

  • Four Ball. No question. Twice as many players will make for more conversations between players and less dead-air that announcers feel they need to fill. We don't need to get crazy with multiple formats, either. Tiger & Phil vs. Spieth & JT? Tiger & Phil vs. Poults and Rose? Tiger & Phil vs. (Did I mention that Tiger and Phil should team up?)
  • Let's forget about the $9M winner-take-all prize. I don't know who paid what and who got paid what, but let's get as much of the sponsorship and PPV revenue into the hands of people that TRULY need help. Sorry, but these guys are already multi-millionaires many times over. It's not the best optics to see two uber-rich professional golfers playing for $9M at an exclusive country club outside of Las Vegas the day after Thankgiving when there are over 1/2 a million homeless people in this country.
  • Side bets to be paid in cash to the winner immediately. While it's great that $200K went to Tiger's charity of choice after Phil missed his birdie putt on one, wouldn't it be cool to see Phil hand over $1,000 cash to Tiger as he walked off the green? Phil's Tuesday money games are legendary on tour. Cash paid at the end of the round. So let's see some cash changing hands.
  • Mic'd up players and caddies are a great idea, but for the most part....it is only when discussing the next shot. For those people that were hoping to hear some controversial comments or vulgarity....I'm sorry, but it just was never going to happen. If you want to hear Tiger drop the F-bomb, go ahead and revisit the clip from the drive he hit on the 18th at Pebble Beach in the 2000 U.S. Open.
  • If we're really going to go Hollywood with this PPV extravaganza, let's REALLY go for it. Let's get a couple celebrities that are really into golf to walk with the group and place their own bets. How about Mark Wahlberg betting Matthew McConaughey $5K that Phil misses the fairway off the tee? Again, less dead air between the players and some true innovative outside-the-box alternatives to the typical broadcast.
  • Finally, with twice the players, and some guest stars....let's trim away some of the commentators. With all of that dead-air in between shots and the multitude of voices with a mic in front of them, they were fighting over each other to contribute something. Not fair to them, not fair to the viewers. Throwing it back to Chuck Wagon and Samuel L. Jackson while the guys walk to the next tee, cool. Hearing the Mickelson brothers, Jacobsen, and Perez all in the span of 10 seconds? Too much. Let's have Shane Bacon run point as the on-course reporting.....and add sparingly from there.

My takeaway from The Match? We are all very fortunate to be able to witness such an event. Think about it. On the day after Thanksgiving, the world got to watch Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson play a head-to-head match before they both call it a career. The Match had its share of birdies and a handful of bogies. Hopefully, some new ideas will be born and the product will be improved so that Match 2.0 is a greater success.

I think The Match was a solid par. And sometimes par is good enough to win.