I don’t know much about golf. I certainly don’t know a whole lot about the history of the sport. Really, in the broad scheme of sports, I am a newbie. However, I think that’s what has drawn me closer to the PGA in recent years.
When it comes to the major sports, I have long forgotten the feeling of learning something nearly brand new each time I watch an event. That is what I felt around 2008 as I began to more closely follow professional golf. And, boy, did I pick a good starting point.
One of my first memories comes from the summer of 2008 at the US Open. That was when Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate had an epic battle at Torrey Pines.
I was hooked.
The more interesting the players/storylines are — the more intriguing the sport becomes. That’s one of the keys to winning my fandome. It’s a given that these are tremendous athletes. And, thus, as spoiled as it sounds, that becomes a given. So whether it’s Tiger Woods’ exuberant finale at Torrey Pines in ’08, or it’s the older pros rocking “Rory wigs” to showcase the new breed of players — these types of character creating events are important to gaining new fans.
I recall similar feelings when I began to engross myself in MMA. I had watched off and on from 1998 (UFC 17), but it was in college in the mid-2000s when the Dana White fueled UFC resurgence was in full swing. Some huge fights, and personalities, were the catalysts that created the UFC’s massive growth spurt,
I dove in head first. I wanted to learn all the intricacies of the sports techniques, and wanted to know all the key player both in the cage and out. I even took up jujitsu for a while. It was the thrill of learning something new every single time I watched an MMA fight that was addicting.
Now, I feel a similar way while watching a PGA event.
Winter has turned to spring. This is when I now start to get the itch to watch golf. It’s becoming a new ritual. There’s nothing like lying on the couch on a sunny Sunday afternoon and hearing the sweet, sweet sounds of the golf course (and Jim Nance).
When someone asks how I watch such a slow sport on television, I can’t really lash out at them. It’s an understandable question. Even I have issues watching some MLB games for an extended period of time, for example.
As I thought about it more, the reason become clear. It was quite clearly the “newness” of the game that was driving my viewership.
These are the key tee times to pay attention to on Thursday. Charl Schwartzel, defending Master champion, tees off at 10:24 a.m. EST, along with a favorite of mine, Keegan Bradley, and Kelly Kraft. Tiger Woods tees off at 10:35 a.m. EST. Rory McIlroy tees off at 1:42 a.m. EST, and so does Angel Cabrera and Bubba Watson. Lastly, Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan and Peter Hanson tee off at 1:53 a.m. EST.
Here’s to hoping that some big names are in the hunt come Sunday.