- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Cut elephant in bite-size pieces. Add enough brown gravy to cover. Cook over kerosene fire about four weeks at 450�. Serves 3,800 people. If more people are expected, add two rabbits. Do this only in emergency as most people don't like hare in their stew.
IN THE ROUGH
Something good was bound to come out of the troubled economy if it hung around long enough. And so it has: last week CBS announced that, starting in 1982, it was slashing its golf coverage from 20 tournaments a year to 14. Lopped from the network's lineup were such celebrity-promoted events as the Andy Williams- San Diego Classic, the Jackie Gleason Inverrary and the Sammy Davis-Hartford Open. NBC had already dropped, for 1981, the Joe Garagiola-Tucson Open and the Byron Nelson Classic, and although that network may yet add a couple of tournaments, the net effect will be less golf on the tube.
It was clearly time to do something about the glut of televised golf, which has resulted in a decline in the sport's ratings of almost 30% since 1975. Though its appeal to affluent viewers makes golf what Madison Avenue calls a "prestige buy," prestige is generally one of the first casualties of a lagging economy. As Chip Campbell, the PGA Tour's director of communications, puts it, "Golf has a narrow base. Fifteen million people play it in this country, and that's who watches it. No sport can survive appealing only to participants."
Steps are being taken to broaden this base. Concerned that the sport appeals mostly to an older crowd, the PGA Tour is encouraging sponsors to offer young people low-priced tickets to tournaments, and last month it helped set up a course for kids at Disney World in Florida. This six-hole "Wee Links" course, which features greens made of inexpensive-to-maintain artificial turf, is a prototype for what the PGA Tour hopes will be hundreds of others like it. Another development is the opening of the new Tournament Players Championship course in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., which was designed with high vantage points so that lots of spectators—as many as 40,000 on the last hole—can see lots of action. PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman describes the course as the first in a new generation of "golf stadiums" aimed at building a mass audience.
The cutback in TV coverage could, paradoxically, help swell the audience, too. As SI golf writer Dan Jenkins observes, "The fewer tournaments that are televised, the more likely it is a tournament that does get on the air will seem important, dramatic, even entertaining. The trouble until now has been that golf's TV audience increased dramatically only when everyone was snowed in during the winter or when a headline in the sports section of the Sunday newspaper said: WATSON AND NICKLAUS TIED GOING INTO FINAL ROUND TODAY: FISTFIGHT EXPECTED. There will still be plenty of golf on TV, and the tiny white Titleist will still be hard to see in flight, and the networks will still be accused of boring viewers when Watson or Nicklaus or Trevino isn't winning a tournament. But at least this is a beginning."
EXPLANATIONS SIMPLE & COMPLEX
The 1980 Winter Olympics weren't supposed to run a deficit, or so Lake Placid officials solemnly promised. Just how wrong those officials were became known last month with completion of a financial review undertaken in connection with the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee's request to U.S. and state officials for a bailout to save it from possible bankruptcy. Although federal and state governments provided $112 million of the $172 million it cost to stage the Winter Games, the LPOOC wound up losing $4.4 million. LPOOC officials blame the red ink on many factors, including unfavorable publicity caused by the boycott of the Summer Olympics, but somehow we prefer the explanation of the LPOOC's deputy director of marketing, Doug Brown, who ascribes the deficit to "a shortfall in projected revenues and an increase in expenditures." In other words, the LPOOC took in less money and spent more than it expected.
The folks who brought us the 1976 Summer Games, which had a deficit of $1 billion, are also being called upon for explanations. Last June, after a 30-month-long investigation, a three-member commission headed by Quebec Superior Court Justice Albert Malouf, blamed those staggering losses largely on Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau, who had said, memorably, that the '76 Games "can no more have a deficit than a man can have a baby." Drapeau said he would rebut the Malouf report with a detailed written statement, complete with "quotations, illustrations and charts," a statement that has yet to see the light of day. It should be quite a tome when—or if—it finally appears. Last week, in response to the latest of many inquiries by Montreal reporters, an aide said that Drapeau was still working on it.