PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – For those married to the tradition, the ancient rituals and all those formalities of golf, what eventual British Open champion Jordan Spieth went through on No. 13 on Sunday was undoubtedly brilliant.
The audience who plays every week, gobbles up all things golf and probably has a decent-sized inheritance was most likely captivated as they sat in the grill room (or is it grille room) of their posh club somewhere taking in all the drama.
Loads of guys in Fox Chapel, Sewickley, Oakmont and Upper St. Clair probably loved it. They probably lived for it.
I can appreciate tradition and custom.
But I also know when enough is enough; I also know when a “that’s the way we have always done it” mentality ruins the product. To be frank, watching a final group take a half-hour to play a single hole — even as it was a Major and it was the final pairing — wasn’t about drama. For me, it forced into a get-on-with-it feeling and had there been any other live sports or program worth watching at the time, the channel would have been flipped.
But there wasn’t.
So I begrudgingly took it all in.
The British Open is, to be blunt, the one golf tournament I spend any real amount of time watching anymore.
Know why? No. 13 on Sunday can serve as the most tangible microcosm. It is all so slow.
As it feels like all the other sports are making strides to attempt to expedite the pace of their games, what has golf truly done to make itself quicker? How is it anything of a more expeditious watch on television?
For me, it isn’t.
And, you know what, in an age when there are more people who simply don’t have the attention to span to watch an endeavor that is so slow, I wonder what golf will look like in 20 years.
Just as recent as three years ago, Nielsen did a study that yielded 63 percent of the weekly golf audience was over the age of 55. By comparison sake, just 25 percent of the regular NBA audience was over the age of 55.
So, quite literally, golf’s main demographic is dying. In addition to that this country has lost about 1,000 golf courses in the past decade and from 2005 to 2015 golf participation dropped by about six million players in this country.
A 2015 study by The Washington Post noted that the number of people playing the sport between the ages 18 and 30 was down about 35 percent in just one decade.
That is staggering.
As is the decision by Nike – who seemingly holds on to anything they can that can turn a profit – to get out of the golf equipment business.
Is some (or maybe more) of this all the Tiger Woods impact and the fact that the sport reached an artificial high when that man was on top? Perhaps. Maybe it had to do with the fact that Woods was such a polarizing player at the very top of the sport — you tuned in to root like hell for him to dominate or fall flat on his face and not much in the middle.
Right now, such a figure isn’t there. Dominance wouldn’t be good enough, either — it must be someone who divides.
Either that, or in my estimation golf needs a seismic shift in rules to get many, many people (especially the younger demographic) on board with giving it a chance. Whether it is pacing or shortening it from 18 holes, a shot clock or a raucous kind of Ryder Cup atmosphere each week, I don’t know. But it needs something different; even if it is a gimmick.
For me, there just isn’t any spice right now.
In truth, I really like golf. I do, I promise.
But I tried to watch the final round of the British and know what I got? A half-hour hole where guys were traipsing around a Titleist truck yakking about rules whilst another guy sat on his bag.
That doesn’t move the meter for me.
Next time, I will change the channel — even if it is the British Open.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.