Readers of The First Call do not mind watching professional golfers work to earn their birdies
> Question of the Week [March 14-20]: Would you rather watch a tournament where the winning score is around even par, between 5- and 15-under par or a shootout over 20 under?
Variety is the spice of life. Target golf showcases the tremendous abilities of PGA Tour players. But watching wind and rain at a British Open humble the greatest players in the world or watching U.S. Open rough torture some other players makes the average golfer feel just a little bit better. The average golfer just wants to know that double and triple bogeys (it would take a 12 for them to get to my level) can happen to anyone. So two or three times a year, yeah, let’s see only a couple golfers under par for the week.
The ideal tournament to watch is one in which the leaders are at or even slightly above par with two to four holes remaining. This indicates a challenging set-up and/or conditions that will require discipline and shot execution to ensure victory.
I find the most enjoyable viewing for me is when the players are really challenged, and these guys are so good that the conditions have to be really severe to seriously challenge them. To me, it is exciting golf when the best players in the world have to think long and hard about almost every shot that they take. It's not so much the score, but watching and knowing that their nerves are jumping and they have to keep themselves under control and hit very difficult shots under very tough conditions. Unless there is very bad weather, we usually only see this on a couple of holes in the Bear Trap, several holes on the back nine at Augusta, and many situations in the Ryder Cup and the U.S. Open. In general, the conditions that produce this type of pressure will produce scores of even par to 10 under.
Cape Girardeau, Missouri
I would far, far prefer to watch a tournament where the winning score was even par. I don't even bother with a tournament once I see the scores get to 10 under. I don't have an interest in driver, wedge and putt tournaments. What's more, just about every golfer I know agrees with me.
It's often said by tour players, "people love to see us make birdies." I wish I knew who said that. I want to watch pros earn their pars, and have to hit great shots to get under par. Let's see more par-70 ratings where players need to hit long irons and hybrids, and rough that basically costs them a half to a full stroke.
Terry M. Fraser
I would absolutely rather watch a tournament with the score at best maybe 10-under par than some runaway where players shoot 66 every day. A good example was Saturday's play at The Players where they were struggling to shoot par. Much more interesting to watch. Like the commercial used to say, "These guys are good," but honestly it gets boring to watch them chew up a course. At that point I turn the TV off.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
I would prefer to see the winning score between 5 and 10 under. To me, that shows the course is extremely challenging , but fair. Typically that should create a very competitive, down-to-the-final-hole tournament.
Whitehouse Station, New Jersey
I find it much more entertaining to watch golf when par is a good score. The birdiefests we see regularly on the PGA Tour seem so blah to me. I’ve really enjoyed the Florida Swing this year.
My favorite is when the winning score is par to 6- or 7-under par. Enjoy seeing the pros work hard mentally and then execute well. A birdiefest is fine once in a while, but seems rather boring as they aren’t being challenged. An over-par winning score seems unnecessary and commonly means conditions got away from the intent (see Saturday at 2022 The Players) of the course’s design and challenges.
As a former pitcher, I enjoy a good pitchers duel where each pitch sets up the next pitch and keeps the hitter off balance and guessing what’s coming next. Likewise, I enjoy watching golf where the score is close to par. Like the pitcher, the golfer must play each shot to set up the next one. Make an error and recovery becomes imperative if he is to save par. It’s the pressure that is fun to witness — which golfer will survive or which one will choke and swallow the olive. Making birdie after birdie lacks the challenge of the game. Give me the pitchers duel.
I like the winning score to be 5 to 15 under, preferably around 10. With that kind of winning score, birdies mean something and they gain strokes on the field. And the player’s entire game is challenged. No putting contest here, but key putts for par mean a lot. So let's grow the rough, have a couple of par 3s playing 225 to 240 yards, and have a risk/reward par 4 coming down the stretch. We’ll see more separation of the best players from the rest. Then have a shootout set up every 10 events or so where everyone has a chance that week.
Let’s face it, the low score wins in all cases. Typically, winning scores around par are artificially contrived by changing two par-5 holes to par 4s, thereby reducing par by eight shots over four rounds. (Consider the USGA’s setup of U.S. Open). Watching the best players in the world treading water and playing defensively is not very entertaining.
Winning scores over 20-under par generally indicates a less challenging course with a very getable setup. A shootout where nearly every hole is a required birdie is not fun to watch.
Personally, I prefer to see events with winning scores between 5- and 15-under par. These events open the possibilities for a wide variety of players to compete and reward hot players on a roll for the week. These setups offer numerous risk/reward opportunities and generally reward the best play. This type of events create excitement and must-watch TV.
Palm Harbor, Florida
I love when the Tour players are given a variety of enticing options off the tee that lead to aggressive risk-taking play. Maybe this is great for everyone. They are all playing generally the same course and par is just really a standardized number. If this scenario leads to even par great. If it leads to 20 under great.
Providence, Rhode Island
I would prefer to see scoring of between 5- and 15-under par.
Richard J. Dwiatek
Parsippany, New Jersey
A MAJOR THAT'S NOT
The Players has surpassed the other four majors and has become the No. 1 major championship. Only one other major uses the same site, which gives the fans the opportunity to identify with the course and recognize the various challenges facing the players. The course has an adequate defense against the modern bomb-and-gouge style, as it requires an excellent level of shotmaking combined with a superb short game and sound putting. TPC at Sawgrass is one of the finest viewing venues in all of golf. The event has stood the test of time producing a winners list of the best players available at the time of their victory. The field is the strongest of all major championships. The prize money is the largest of any major. The only weakness is the field is limited to touring professionals only. There is no special invitation list and no amateurs.