I can't stand when casual reporters analyzing golf tournaments. Surely this stems from my own dedication to and scrutiny of the sport, but I get upset when people like Bill Plaschke blabber on Around the Horn about how Michelle Wie will be overswinging this week by trying to keep up with the men. Those are the stupid statements that eat away at the credibility of general sports reporters trying to give insight into golf.
Then I read this column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Bill Livingston, who I had never read until today (unlike Plaschke who I like otherwise.)
Still, I wish we could put the lasers back in the science lab.
Lasers are what designated volunteers use for a PGA Tour media service called ShotLink. The shot-trackers use lasers to determine a shot's distance, then record on PDAs (personal digital assistants) the yardage, the spot on the course where the ball lies, and maybe the golfer's astrological sign.
I, and I'm sure many other tournament golfers, like to know exactly how far a tour golfer hits his shot so we know how they play in different situations. But that doesn't have to take away from the traditional lingo we're used to:
The sports world, including the PGA Tour, has gone stat crazy. But Tour golfers still use the formula that sufficed for years. From one to six feet, they measure putts by each foot. At eight, 10 and 12 feet, they measure two feet at a time. Then it's three, for 15- and 18-footers. Back to two feet to reach 20, but then it's a quick march in five-foot increments to 40 feet. After that, 10-foot increases stretch to infinity and beyond.
So I thought maybe Bill did know a little more than he let on -- until he came back with these ridiculous comments:
Once, we (who do you mean by "we?") had lingo. Now we have lasers. Monster putts were "snakes," and sometimes, for truly vast distances, "anacondas." Around the cup and out was a "U-turn," and around and in was a "victory lap." A missed gimme was "afraid of the dark." Hacking it back and forth across the green was "Army golf -- Left, right, left!" On the green, more than three putts was going into the "hockey mode."
Only hackers talk like that, Bill. But don't worry, that's exactly what most reporters are in the sport. And since golf isn't as commonly played of a sport as baseball, basketball and football, to name a few, it's understandable that most reporters don't have a good grasp on the nuances of the sport. Please, though, don't remove all doubt with this annoying posturing.