Saturday is going to be the absolute, no doubt worst day of televised golf of the year. Guaranteed. Why? Because, without fail, the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is the most unbearable, cringe-inducing, rage-inviting golf broadcast on the PGA Tour schedule.
It’s unwatchable. And, worst of all, it sneaks up on you.
For the last several years, the old Crosby Clambake has been the weekend after the Super Bowl. So, after a fitting end to the NFL season, and just before pitchers and catchers report in Florida and Arizona, golf fans tune in to the telecast hoping to see the gorgeous vistas from Pebble Beach Golf Links, which has 10 holes with unrivaled views. The clock strikes 3 p.m. Eastern, we turn the channel, and immediately chuck it at the TV set (or, nowadays, throw down our phones in a streaming-of-consciousness slew of obscenities). For the next three hours, you’ll see about 12 professional golf shots, eight or nine shots of Pebble Beach Golf Links, some cute flippering from Seal Point…and life-denying footage of horrid celebrity golf swings as they take mar some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet.
Making things worse, CBS, which has telecast this tournament for decades, then brings many of those milquetoast celebrities — as well obnoxiously rich billionaires — into a purpose-built tent along the mind-blowing par-3 17th to have a chat (read: open forum to promote whatever the hell it is the amateur wants) and indulge their societal status by having Peter Kostis give a gentle-but-forthright assessment of their golf game through the Konica Minolta BizHub Swing Vision Camera.
Over the course of the three-hour broadcast window, you’ll see just as many pro-am leaderboards as updates on the professional tournament. You’ll see Aaron Rodgers hit it. Wayne Gretzky will knock it around a bit with his future son-in-law, Dustin Johnson. On the 15th hole, Dottie Pepper will yak it up with a few of the celebrities, including has-beens and never-weres. Gary Mule Deer comes to mind, and then the gag reflex kicks in. And with the Patriots pulling off an unprecedented 25-point comeback against the Falcons, Mark Wahlberg will be insufferable.
So why does this telecast suck so bad? Thursday and Friday are OK. Sunday is generally good. It’s just Saturday.
Part of it is beyond CBS’s control. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am sprawls over three courses for the first three days, meaning, if CBS were to show the leaders, they’d have to be on all three courses at once. Frankly, doing that costs way more money than it’s worth to the Eye. That’s a lot of man-hours, laying and picking up wiring and coordination. Not going to happen.
The logistical problems of covering the pro event means CBS chooses to focus on Pebble Beach because it’s beautiful, in the tournament name and has those iconic views the average soon-to-be-napping middle-aged dad wants in his golf telecast. And, despite losing our eyes into the back of our heads for an afternoon after rolling them so much, a lot of people actually like watching the celebs and rich people. Some of our most-trafficked posts on GNN each year are around this tournament: the celebrities in the field, who they’re playing with and when, as well the final pro-am leaderboard. People actually give a crap who wins the pro-am. CBS knows, for all our Twitter dot com snark, that middle-aged old guys like it. And Viagra single packs buys as time for those guys, not us (although maybe they’re planting a seed for the future; sorry).
However, part of this is on CBS. They don’t show a lot of golf as it is on a week-to-week PGA Tour telecast. Lots of pre-recorded stuff and commercials. Not a lot of actual golf. Lots of footage of players walking, or the crowd or the surrounding area. Take that kind of attention-deficit problem and thrust it into a distraction-filled setting like this tournament, and it’s just a recipe for disaster.
We’re not winning this one…yet. So, that means you can do one of three things this Saturday if you’re a golf fan:
- Suck it up and watch the telecast (maybe on your phone or computer while watching something better) because you need to keep caught up on golf
- Subscribe to PGA Tour Live and watch their featured groups broadcast on the weekend, saving your sanity
- Don’t watch golf at all and go have a great Home Depot and Bed Beth & Beyond weekend, so you can get something done before you surrender whole weekends at a time leading into the Masters
We’ll be watching because it’s our job. Maybe on mute.