Shrine Me a River

And in the no-news wasteland of the post-Ryder Cup world, today’s broadcast leads with this no-news item:

Timberlake out in Vegas.

The horror.

Las Vegas’ tourney long has played like a carnival pony in the Triple Crown that is the PGA Tour schedule. At the charitable level, the event certainly has helped with a number of causes. But the tour, sponsors and tournament organizers want Secretariat and sick kids getting a helping hand shown in a very public way.

The former has been lacking in Vegas’ annual non-show. And that’s seemingly ironic in a town with the buzz of Sin City, until you realize it’s really a small huge town of 1 million souls owing to its fundamental idiosyncrasies.  Tourists ain’t taking time out from crappy buffets and penny slots to attend a golf tournament, and the type of broad local support that makes PGA Tour events work in far tinier villes is simply lacking in such a transient megalopolis.  What soon no longer will be known as the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has been floating around largely rudderless for years now, changing format, venues, identity like a four-act, two-performances-per-night showgirl. Actually, Timberlake allowed the wandering non-spectacle to catch a breather, and brought in some much needed coin to the bottom line.

Come this Sunday, he’s out. Apparently he’s no ringing enough cash registers.

Sure, he might not being doing enough heavy lifting, but the tourney’s desire to take the next step certainly was not limited by the avid-golfer singer.  Reality bites, sometimes quite hard.

The PGA Tour if not golf itself long ago left behind the day of the “star” on the marquee, let alone when there is zero history attached to it; hell, the beloved Hope lost most of its steam years before the name game down and the Clambake is a spectacle that excels despite Bill Murray and Chris Berman, not because of the ghost of Bing.

The tournament wants more. It wants to be a first-tier player, not one of the stepchild opposite-field-like events (and it doesn’t even run up against a WGC or Open Championship). The premise is good: Bigger presence equals more money for charity. But to what end? The tournament is overestimating what it has.  In a world of Rivieras, Muirfield Villages and Harbour Towns, TPC Summerlin doesn’t stack up; fun member play, some cool risk/reward, unremarkable as a playpen for the best players in the world (and the lion’s share of the field scratching to avoid season-ending relegation to the minors).

More critically, too much credence is being given to the event’s position in the upcoming split-year PGA Tour “year.”  Some of the biggest names annually skip Kapalua, with its guaranteed check, stunning course, perfect weather and family-friendly enviro–sorry, Phil, I’m a fan but you are doing nothing but whining when it comes to the wind and your game prep–and Vegas ain’t Maui, not by any stretch of the imagination.  None of the big guns that turn little engines that could into steamrolling juggernauts are gonna give a rip if they get a “late” start to the wholly fabricated Fed Ex Cup season when they continue to skip the tourney in the future. They don’t need the coin, they don’t need the early-season points. To them, it still will prove to be the undercard portion of the season coming in the wake of what matters–the fourth major, the faux/big coin playoffs, the Ryder/Prez cups–and preceding what they want, namely some down time, excluding those who of course scamper off to chase seven-figure appearance fees overseas.

Go ahead, think big, dream. But let’s be practical; not everyone can be a spectacle along the lines of a Waste Management Phoenix Open or a cash cow like the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

As Ty Webb suggests, there’s nothing wrong with working in a lumberyard.

One Response to “Shrine Me a River”

  1. bardolator

    I was just wondering how you felt about the Vegas stop, Ken. Signed in, and voilà!

    So if TPC isn’t up to it, what Vegas course is? More to the point, why can’t a destination like Las Vegas find a sugar daddy who loves both golf and gambling enough to be tempted to step up? Surely casinos could market a decent tournament to patrons the way they already market rodeos, car parts conventions, you name it.

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