She wasn’t talking about following golf from the other side of the world but Joni Mitchell had it right in the 60’s when she noted that ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’.
It’s been a while since I’ve missed the telecast of one of the game’s big events but due to unforeseen circumstances this week that was the reality for the PGA at Kiawah Island: and it proved a revelation.
Or more accurately, a reminder.
With no TV, the options for following golf are somewhat limited. Twitter does a decent job of conveying what’s happening on course and the official leaderboard – while slow – provides the scores.
The real star of the show, though, is radio.
Yes, you heard that right: golf on the radio is good and – when done right – really, really good.
Several years ago, almost completely by accident, I stumbled upon online radio coverage of The Open and fell immediately in love with it.
It started several hours before the TV coverage and was about much more than just what was happening on the course.
"Yes, you heard that right: golf on the radio is good and – when done right – really, really good." - Rod Morri.
Like cricket, the pace of golf lends itself to coverage that breathes.
And while the visuals in golf are more important than cricket, the opportunity to explore facets of the game TV never gets the chance to touch are at least as important.
You lose nothing in terms of the important information and gain plenty in intelligent and thought provoking conversation (assuming you have the right commentators in place.)
Granted, the radio coverage from our American friends is a little more vanilla than across the pond, a little more commercial heavy and a little less expansive but as an option when there is no TV, it does a more than adequate job.
Much less satisfying is the experience that hundreds of friends/parents/coaches/siblings of those who play secondary Tours or aren’t in contention must endure every week when the only source of information is the online leaderboard.
At the same time as Phil Mickelson was keeping the golf world on the edge of their seats, the LPGA’s secondary Symetra Tour was in Florida for their seventh tournament of the season.
England’s Meghan Maclaren – twice a winner of the NSW Open and a former guest on Golf Australia’s The Thing About Golf podcast – took a two-shot lead into the final round of the IOA Golf Classic and I was interested to follow her progress.
Nearly wearing out the refresh button on a web browser is without doubt the most frustrating way to experience the professional game.
Seeing Meghan ultimately finish third was a close second.
As fans, we’re often hard on those who broadcast the game and much of that criticism is certainly warranted.
But when TV is taken away it’s a salient reminder that compared to the alternatives, it’s actually pretty good.