From the Rough

Golf without discretion

USGA’s decision to broadcast U.S. Open in prime time will only benefit the game

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The idea might sound crazy at first but maybe it’s time the USGA considered the idea of moving the U.S. Open to the West Coast on a permanent basis. Fantastic weather conditions and a picturesque backdrop for television make courses like Pebble Beach the perfect stage for one of the game’s most respected championships.

While moving the major championship to the West Coast is a crazy idea on paper — it would keep some of the greatest courses in the country from hosting the U.S. Open, and that’s never a good thing — if you gave television a choice, they’d probably take it in a matter of seconds.

Why? ratings, of course. After running the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in prime time television to rave reviews — as well as the third-highest ratings in U.S. Open in history — the tournament has once again been handed the same prime time slot for this year.

Unlike 2008 when the tournament’s third round was on the air until 10 p.m., this year’s third round will go to 11 p.m., giving golfers the chance to watch an extra hour of golf. Sunday’s final round will still go until 9 p.m. (or whenever the final putt does drop).

Quite honestly, I don’t know why it took so long for television to come up with this idea. Unlike usual tour events, where the final two rounds are played out during the afternoon, these two rounds will be given a prime time slot to lure in viewers.

Consider what’s on during in the evenings during the month of June; you’ve got baseball, baseball and baseball. With the exception of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, the U.S. Open should have the green light on Sunday to pillage the rest of the local networks for the weekend.

Given the microscope the game has been under recently with the Tiger Woods allegations, a chance for the sport to be portrayed in a bigger, more appealing light can only be considered a major-plus.

Can you imagine the viewing audience that would sit down with their family in the evening if Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were going head-to-head? I can’t even fathom what those ratings would be like.

For the game’s sake — as well as the USGA and PGA Tour’s — let’s hope we see at least one of the two big names in contention on Sunday.

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Written by Jonathan Wall

04/20/2010 at 1:27 pm

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