On Monday, my colleague Rod Morri mused on the idea that golf doesn’t get a fair shake when it comes to mainstream media coverage.
His column rightly pointed to the game’s responsibility to help itself and educate those outside it as to its benefits and correct misconceptions that are rife in the non-golf community.
And yet, just two days later we have a prime example of golf again failing to help itself in the search for wider positive coverage and, instead, a negative slant gaining plenty of attention with those same common gripes about the game once again gaining aired.
The fourth edition of The Match took place Tuesday (US time) with Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady partnering against Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers.
For those unfamiliar, Brady and Rodgers are among the best active quarterbacks in the NFL (American Football) – and certainly in the former’s case – among the greatest of all-time.
"Why not finally give at least one woman the opportunity to tee it up alongside Phil, Bryson and the quarterbacks to raise the profile of women’s golf? Or spread the message of golf as a game for everyone to those who fail to see just that?" - Jimmy Emanuel
The reach of this charity-driven hit and giggle likely far exceeds any run-of-the-mill PGA Tour tournament due to the participants, and the benefits to charity are immense thanks to the players’ own donations and those raised over this week and the three previous made for TV events.
However, utilising this reach to show golf in its best light to non-golfers and casual observers was – again – an opportunity sadly missed. Instead, stereotypes were simply reinforced.
One of the game’s great tenets is the ability for any golfer, regardless of ability, to compete with any other player thanks to the handicap system and the use of multiple tees.
So why not finally give at least one woman the opportunity to tee it up alongside Phil, Bryson and the quarterbacks to raise the profile of women’s golf? Or spread the message of golf as a game for everyone to those who fail to see just that?
Women were once again involved in The Match – a concept that began with Mickelson taking on long-time rival Tiger Woods in 2018 – but in roles as part of the coverage, not the play.
And that, in this writers’ mind, is simply a failure to capitalise on an opportunity to promote ether one of the LPGA’s top pros or, as is the case with Rodgers and Brady, take a celebrity who loves the game to display the game we love in its best light.
As two of the rare few among the professional ranks capable of attracting mainstream media attention, Mickelson and DeChambeau had a chance to do something for the greater good of the game this week.
Yet instead we got scripted trash talking with a couple of great athletes while taking an eternity to navigate 18 holes of expensive, private golf.
And is it any wonder around the same time The Match 4 was taking place actor Rainn Wilson tweeted to his more than four million followers, “Am I alone in thinking that golf is not just boring but that it’s actually truly evil?”
Wilson’s words seem more in relation to the game’s use of land and resources, but the more than 600 replies had plenty of mentions of golf’s lack of inclusivity, something that is changing slowly but could have done with a huge publicity shot in the arm via The Match.
Slow play, a game for well-heeled white men and expansive property and resource usage were the messages the golf haters will have taken from the event in Montana. And it is hard to argue with them.
Within golf, the biggest success was probably for golf tourism in the Montana region and another showcase of wildlife content during golf on TV.
All of this is no surprise, and this column likely won’t achieve much, but I personally hold out hope that sooner rather than later golf will start to help itself and people like Wilson are at least given a chance to see the game’s positives, like inclusivity. Even if they still choose to ignore it.