Here we go again, the wonderful Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and Thursday's first round lived down to the tradition set by so many painfully, unwatchably unfunny years before.
Thursday's lowlight was Chris Berman, the ESPN yeller who long ago stopped being famous for anything other than being Chris Berman. His performance on the links was horrendous, which was compounded by the fact that cameras kept coming back to him, over and over and over again.
Berman apparently has no problem tromping all over other people's workplace, despite the fact that he gets all wadded up when someone does the same to him. (Must-watch, though a bit of NSFW language video in that link.) A guy who rants like that about his own working environment ought to show a little more respect for others' than hand-wedging the ball at a PGA Tour event.
And Berman -- who, by the way, apparently owns only one golf shirt -- is by far the worst example, but he's not the only one. George Lopez, Michael Bolton, Kenny G* ... watching duffers carve up a course is fun for a video clip, not an entire afternoon. It's hack, it's tired, it's done.
This was all cute and a wonderful tradition back when we couldn't see our celebrities any moment we wanted to, instantly. It was a kick to see Hope and Crosby on the course when you hadn't seen them in a few months. (Or so I'm assuming; that was well before my time.) But now? We see Lopez every night on his talk show. (Well, somebody does.) We see Berman braying regularly on "SportsCenter," whether we want to or not. And we see Bill Murray every week during our ritual "Caddyshack" viewing. (Surely that's not just us.)
So here are a few proposals to deal with this mess, proposals that have no chance of being implemented because the people causing the problem are the people who have the power to override any changes. Still, at least one of these needs to happen:
• Go to Wednesday pro-ams, just like everybody else. You want to pretend at being a pro golfer for the galleries? Great. Do it Wednesday, and get the heck out of the way.
• Require a legitimate handicap, not this "gentlemen's 18" that Berman apparently claims to have. Show some respect for the game; if you're not ready, stay off the course.
• Require some legitimate entertainment value. Sure, this is subjective, but I think we can all agree that if we could lay down some basic standards -- a cut line for talent, if you will -- Murray and Kurt Russell would be playing well into the weekend, while Berman and Bolton would be unselected alternates.
• Finally, and this one would tighten up the field in a hurry: If you're going to play golf for three days with a PGA Tour pro, said pro has to come and work with you at your place of business for an equivalent time. That means wooden pro golfers stopping TV shows, movies, talk shows and newscasts dead in the water for three whole days. Stepping on someone's putting line suddenly doesn't seem so fun when they're mangling your speaking line, does it?
I get it, I get it, tradition...history...celebrity blah blah blah. But as with so much else in golf, the only people who really enjoy this are the ones who are doing it. The rest of us are wondering what's going on over in Dubai.
Leave it to announcer David Feherty to sum it up perfectly. After another Berman hack, Feherty quipped, "That's all you need to be happy ... low standards." Yep. That's exactly why we are where we are now.
*-I've been informed, repeatedly, that Kenny G is a scratch golfer. Two points: a. I'm proud that I didn't know this, and b. his music still bites. Until he can make a PGA Tour cut, same rules apply.