It really is quite amazing that Black Friday, for shopaholics, is revered much like Masters Sunday is for golfers. Somewhat interesting to note though, Black Friday was not always revered. In fact, the first mention of Black Friday occurred in 1869 when two speculators created a boom and bust in gold prices. A stock market crash followed as prices dropped 20 points.
This year, Black Friday, besides being a shopping frenzy, is also the day a $9 million “winner take all” made for TV, totally meaningless money match between Tiger and Phil will take place in Las Vegas. Well, everyone knows that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and that’s how I feel about this far from original idea.
On select Sundays from 1961 through 1970, “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf” would show heads-up matches between prominent, popular players. The competition was light-hearted and quite often in an exotic location that was sometimes as compelling as the competition itself.
The second version of these “Wonderful World of Golf” type head-to-head matches came about mainly to provide programming for Golf Channel. So, fast-forward to 1999, and up pops David Duval and Tiger Woods going head to head, then once more, a year later, when it was Tiger vs. Sergio.
Now that Phil Mickelson is 48 years old and Tiger is 42, along comes yet another version — a “Winner Takes All” version. As the news was released, the date was confirmed, your excitement started to build as you started looking forward to this match-up in November — on Black Friday — and then you discovered that it will only be on Pay-Per-View. What? All those other matches were “free.” Not this time, golf fans.
If you want to watch these admittedly popular but well-past-their-prime iconic golfers play each other in a $9 million meaningless winner-take-all match, you’ll have to pay for the privilege. I have yet to participate in any Pay-Per-View show and I can assure you, this won’t be the first. However, I’d have a different perspective if all the money was going to charity.
Two things: 1) It’s not their own money that they are playing for, and 2) Neither one really needs the money. No doubt that sounds like a lot of money, and it is. While I’m sure for myself, however, congratulations if that’s not the case for you. Trust me, it’s not a lot of money to Tiger and Phil. My sources in the know have pegged Mickelson in the range of $365 million net worth range while Tiger resides in the $760 million net worth range.
Another major stumbling block to success is the fact there are plenty of other sports options scheduled for Black Friday. In the TV Guide that day, 15 hockey games are scheduled to air, 14 round ball NBA games, plus six college football games involving top 25 preseason teams, and they can all come right into your living room without the Pay-Per-View option.
Right now, in my opinion, golf is at a crossroads. There are fewer new golfers coming into the game than there should be. Some of the early Tiger-Phil pre-match build up claims the match will bring more people to the game of golf. How wrong can they be?
Golf’s image is that it is an elitist sport and while that image is changing, I just don’t see how forcing the general public to pay to watch two players way past their prime play for money that they do not need is going to do anything to grow the game. Personally, watching John Daly take on Colin Montgomery in a mud-wrestling match has more appeal.
To switch to something that will be cool to watch, and at no additional charge, The Ryder Cup is right around the corner at the end of September. The top eight players in Ryder Cup points have already made the team and been announced. Now, Captain Jim Furyk has the luxury of choosing four players to complete the team of 12. Those making the team on points are Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Dustin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickey Fowler, and Web Simpson. So, who will Captain Furyk choose to round out this team? I think it is going to be Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods. (Rumor has it that the last two were highly recommended by NBC Sports who will be televising the matches.)
These 12 players will be on a mission to retain the Ryder Cup. It has been 25 years (1993) since a U.S. Ryder Cup Team has won on foreign soil. Oh yes, I will be in France representing The Independent. I mean, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.