The Horrible Idea of Letting Fans Pick A Pin Placement at the PGA Championship
The excitement is building for the season’s final major. Oak Hill is a historic course and things are setting up for a fantastic week. Phil won the last major and Tiger demolished the field this past week. It doesn’t get much better in terms of anticipation.
Nothing can put a damper on the PGA Championships this week. However, the one pimple is this gimmick of letting the fans pick the pin placement for the 15th hole on Sunday.
Yes, the PGA is letting the fans pick the pin placement on the fourth last hole of a major championship.
My sentiment exactly.
At first, it seems like a fun idea, but so does throwing watermelons off the over-pass.
The PGA Championship claims it was Jack Nicklaus’ idea and he is part of the website presentation. While I am a huge Jack fan (look, my son’s name is Jack) and almost always agree with his take on the game: this is a horrible idea.
The PGA Championship admittedly did a fine job setting up the website for the vote. There are cool fly-bys and descriptions of the four choices of pin placements (although it does seem a bit redundant on every option to say the pin placement brings the lake into play).
More interestingly, if you watch the longer video with Nicklaus and PGA of America guy Kerry Haigh (and for some reason Ahmad Rashad hosting), Jack says the furthest pin location in the back is the one that he would be most comfortable challenging. Nicklaus’ analysis of the possible hole locations is fascinating and fun; but it should end there.
Fan involvement for the actual setup of the course is a terrible idea. I am neither a Luddite in terms of technology nor against greater fun and access for golf fans. I love both. This is neither.
This is not being concerned about a slippery slope to additional fan involvement such as tee-box selection or how high to grow the rough. This is an idea that has already gone too far. In most sports, fan involvement in the actual conditions of competition is thankfully limited to exhibitions such as selecting all-star teams. Consider baseball: the actual real consequence of the All-Star game in deciding home field advantage for the World Series has made fan selection even more ridiculous.
There is a hard line in sports that cannot be crossed by fans: it is the line dividing the fan experience and the field of play.
[fans don't belong on the field of play ... or even the penalty box}
In golf, it seems to be a somewhat grayer area because spectators are on the actual course. The degree to which fans affect the outcome of a shot is accidental, not intentional. However gray the line may be in golf, decisions regarding course set-up should be inside the ropes, literally and figuratively.
Golfers may venture outside of the ropes during a round, but they are not outside the field of play in terms of the sport.
[athletes don't belong in the stands: even if psychological in golf's case]
The psychological divide between inside and outside the ropes is important.
The real point is that as a golf fan, I hope and expect there is more to setting up the course than arbitrarily picking hole locations days in advance (and even more than a week) of the actual event.
Not to recklessly cast praise on the PGA Championship officials, but I always assumed a significant amount of experience and thought went into the pin placements. Surely there must be numerous factors that may impact on the pin placements for Sunday afternoon on the back nine, including:
Beautiful golf and the challenge of a major championship is as much art as it is technical execution. Fans choosing the pin placement on one hole seems to be the opposite of art. Presumably DaVinci did not take notes from visitors to the studio when he was painting the Mona Lisa.
To quote another great artist Edgar Degas, “Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.” Having fans pick the pin placement seems akin to letting a visitor take a stroke of the brush to a painting at the museum.
It’s a gimmick that we don’t need to see again.
In the future, keep us fans off the field and let’s watch Tiger and Phil play some major championship golf.
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