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Last week at Kapalua, Golf Channel asked for volunteers to wear mikes during play. The audio wouldn't be live, only replayed later, but Jonathan Byrd was the only one to agree. I can see where the concept would be good for golf and make the telecasts more lively, and the guys who did it would be more marketable. But for me, I don't think it will fly.
I've worn a mike on the golf course before—at the Tavistock Cup. Physically, I was oblivious to it after the 1st hole, but the effects lasted the entire round. I try to feel as free as possible with my game, and I don't want to be too mindful and conservative while I'm on the course. When I'm having a conversation with my caddie, Mark (Fouch) Fulcher, or a playing partner, I don't want to feel self-conscious.
If I'm in a frustrating situation, sometimes I need to vent. In the heat of battle I may walk up to find my ball in a divot after hitting a great shot and get upset. I'm generally comfortable with my attitude and how I handle myself, but in golf that's not going to happen every time.
In the first round last week we were getting a ruling and it was taking a long time. When the guys behind us hit tee shots up the fairway, I felt as if they were getting a little too close and hassling us. Then, one of them was standing in my line of sight as I was putting, and I three-putted. I felt a little frustrated by a fellow competitor, who is a friend. I'm sure it wasn't intentional, but I expressed my annoyance to Fouch, which would come across badly on tape.
There's also a lot that goes on that's considered intellectual property. It's a competitive disadvantage if players can listen in on other players' conversations. Each guy is different, but I like to talk strategy with Fouch. We'll have chats that help me stay in the moment, and there are things he'll remind me to do. Regarding course strategy, there might be a bunker shot that most guys play straight for the pin, but they don't realize that if they hit 20 feet up a ridge—a much easier shot—the ball will roll back to six feet. It's difficult to gain an edge, and I don't want to give up any that I have.
When I watch golf, I really try to see what other guys are doing under pressure because maybe I can learn from them. I look at their body language. If the broadcast were to include dialogue between a player and a caddie, I'd make the effort to keep my thoughts to myself instead of sharing them, which would drive me crazy.
If Geoff Ogilvy, who won at Kapalua two of the past three years, had been miked, I'd be interested in hearing what was going on in his head.
GOLF PLUS will next appear on Feb. 7.
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