The Golf Channel has done a great job over the past few years
opening up its branding and getting all sorts of new programming into
its schedule. Nearly gone (but not forgotten) are the days when the easiest
way to cure insomnia, even in the middle of the day, was to turn on TGC and let the infomercials and dubiously produced swing tips wash over you. According to VP
of programing development Keith Allo, the network isn't resting on its recent accomplishments.Talking to Links Magazine's Tom Cunneff, Allo revealed at least one project in the works that could be a game changer for the network:
...We’ll also have a new morning show called “Dawn Patrol” that
will air from 7-9. We don’t have hosts yet, but it’ll be our version of
“Mike & Mike.” We have a third studio that we’re completely redoing
to accommodate the set. It’ll be grounded in golf but it will also
cover financial news, other sports. It will be a heavily guest-driven
show with people calling in, including players. It will have a real
immediacy. We’ll even do the weather. Our ticker will have more than
golf news. It’ll have other sports scores and the top line results from
the stock market the day before. It’ll be something that will service
our viewers so they have a reason to watch us. It’s one of the things
that’s been missing. We’ve been talking about launching it for two
years but ’11 seems right. I think it will be really popular.
My colleague Mike Walker and I have very different takes on the Dawn Patrol idea. What we both agree on is that the concept itself is a no-brainer: they've got the footage, the access and the built-in viewership to keep overhead low and provide plenty of content. What we don't agree on is how well the show will be able to split its time between golf and other news/sports without stepping into actual competition with ESPN (and, specifically, the aforementioned Mike
and Mike). Mr. Walker thinks they'll have no problem, while I anticipate growing pains at best, and a complete lack of identity at worst. I like TGC's gumption and their willingness to
take a chance and expand their horizons, and I honestly hope Dawn Patrol is a smashing success, but I'm not afraid to go on
record and predict that this show will flop bigger than Phil's
64-degree wedge. Still, anything will be better than those infomercials. Give me your take below.
It's Miller Time...Again
Johnny Miller hasn't been making a whole lot of friends on the PGA Tour this week. After Paul Casey called out the controversial NBC broadcaster at the BMW Championship, Ian Poulter took exception to Miller's take on the young Brit's ball striking ability. After Brad Faxon completely punked Poulter with a fake gift from Miller, it seemed like Poulter had finally decided to let the broadcaster's comments roll off his back. Until this morning that is:
The link on that Tweet? It brings you to the European Tour's rankings for Greens in Regulation, which Poulter tops with 75.9% of greens hit in his 12 rounds on the Euro tour. A stunning stat...sort of. As you may have heard, Poulter also plays a bit on the PGA Tour, where his GIR is a more modest 62.47% (good for 171st on Tour).
The joke of this entire "feud" is that there are two undeniable facts. First, Ian Poulter is an extremely good golfer (and Johnny Miller never said he wasn't). Second, Ian Poulter is (by PGA Tour standards) a terrible ball striker. Poulter is currently ranked 159th on the Tour in ball striking (a combination of driving accuracy, driving distance and greens in regulation), and it's no aberration--he has finished better than 164th only once in his career. The joke is that there's no reason for Poulter to be ashamed of this--he still managed to be 20th in scoring average (the only stat that really matters) last year, despite his poor ball striking stats. Still, I can't wait to see how Miller reacts to Poulter's Twitter assault, especially since he actually has the stats on his side.
Slam Set Sold
Here's an update on a weird story from a few months ago. You may remember the saga of Steve Mata, the former Titleist director of Tour operations who tried to sell the irons that he claimed Tiger used while completing the "Tiger Slam" in '00 and '01 (a claim Woods denied). The good news for Mata? He had the clubs at least somewhat authenticated and managed to sell them. The bad news? He didn't quite manage to get the $250,000 he was looking for. From foxnews.com:
It seems everybody at Nucci's Italian Cafe knows Steve Mata. He lives down the street. He comes here all the time.
Now might be a time for celebration, but Mata is subdued, thoughtful. He wonders about the future.
For a pricetag of $57,242.40, Mata just sold a set of 11 Titleist irons and wedges that once belonged to Tiger Woods. Mata says they were used by Woods to win the Tiger Slam in 2000 and 2001. Woods says otherwise, but a few touring pros have supported Mata's story.
Announcement of the sale, coming on Sept. 12 from Green Jacket Auctions, caught many observers by surprise. Mata was asking $250,000. It was widely assumed he would hold out for a six-figure bid (the name of the successful bidder was not released).
"It's time to put this behind me and move on," Mata said. "I need to find a job. I'm dedicated to golf. I'm a great employee. I know what I'm doing. I work hard."
The real story here is the state of golf memorabilia in this economy. I don't think anybody expected Mata to get his a quarter-million dollars, but just over $57,000 seems like a steal for these clubs. If and when Tiger finally breaks Jack's record for major wins, expect these babies to go back on the market, most likely at their original asking price.