Welcome to Teeing Off, where Devil Ball editor Jay Busbee and head writer Shane Bacon take a day's topic and smack it all over the course. Suggest a future topic by writing firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us on Twitter at @jaybusbee and @shanebacon. Today, we chat it up about college golf, and what could happen to make it a bigger draw.
Busbee: The weather's cooling, the leaves are changing, and that means it's time for a return to the holy sacraments of college football: tailgate parties and mindless, all-consuming hatred of your rival. Now, I know that college golf has no chance of even sitting at the same table as college football, just as professional golf gets shoved aside by the NFL, but why is college golf such a total non-starter in the minds of fans and the media? Virtually every major American golfer has come through the college ranks, as have many international notables (Graeme McDowell playing in Alabama being my favorite), but why don't we hear more about the college game? Is this a case of the media dropping the ball (or whiffing the drive, as the case may be), or does college golf just not resonate with the fans?
Bacon: It's just ... there's no coverage. You can't turn on the tube and watch the SEC golf championship and no newspaper are really sending people there, but wouldn't people be interested in watching? The U.S. Amateur is one of my favorite events of the year, so why wouldn't people watch college golf?
Busbee: What if the major networks did cover it? Would people still watch? I wonder. There's something about watching a live football or basketball game, with the bands and crowd and noise, that gets you jazzed just sitting there on your couch. And the galleries at golf tournaments, cheering and, yes, "get-in-the-hole"ing every shot, add ambience. But a golf tournament with a relatively low (or nonexistent) gallery is just ... there. The problem in golf is usually stars vs. storylines; people come for one or the other. But college golf throws in the wrinkle of alma mater, an automatic rooting interest for many. Is there a way that networks could televise it to make it watchable and yet maintain the tension necessary to keep people hooked?
Bacon: College sports are just tough because if you aren't football or basketball, people don't care. That said, from covering golf at Arizona, people do come out and watch, and do seem relatively interested. That said, if you had tournaments on Mondays and Tuesdays, why wouldn't the Golf Channel air it?
Busbee: I'd love to see some broadcast network give it a go. And figure a way to get the SEC loons interested. If those people are crazed enough to poison trees, they're crazed enough to watch a little golf now and then.
Now your take ... would you watch college golf if it was on TV?