I came upon something this weekend that crossed the line. It’s the GOLF Magazine and Golf.com, Dubious Achievements 2010, a snarky, mean-spirited, 41-page pictorial put together by Mike Walker, Senior Editor. I’m not even going to provide a link to it because my intention is to get Walker to reexamine what he’s done here, not to make it easier for him to promote it.
I guess my principle objection is that this strays from reporting about golf’s ups and downs and gets into personal shortcomings and mistakes.
For example, in citing John Daly’s comments in a press conference that he played better when he was drunk, Walker used one of Daly’s police booking photos. Really? You have to stoop to picking on the hapless Daly and his well-known misfortunes he’s trying to move beyond?
In a Twitter photo with Michelle Wie, Natalie Gulbis absentmindedly labeled the Washington Monument the Lincoln Memorial. And so she’s made to look like the village idiot.
The same thing happened when Michelle Wie made the mistake in a press conference about her Stanford experience of not knowing that Phi Beta Kappa was an academic society and not a sorority.
The announcement that Gary McCord finally realized a longtime ambition to get on CSI, but not as a corpse as he hoped, caused Walker to joke that producers did ask if New Zealander, Michael Campbell’s, career was available. Campbell, winner of the 2005 U.S. Open, is now ranked number 816 in the world and struggling on the Australasian Tour. “Oh, this’ll be fun! Let’s kick a man when he’s down!”
There is a recent photo of Greg Norman holding an unidentified silver trophy. The caption has nothing to do with that; the photo is merely a visual aid that points to his success and prosperity. The caption claims that Norman “did not make severance payments” to laid off employees when he closed his Aussie course-design office. But if you follow the provided link, you find out that he did. What he didn’t do was additionally pay four-weeks-per-year-of-employment “redundancy payments” which were not required for companies under 15 employees. This Australian labor law would have required 40 weeks pay for one employee if Norman’s company had been larger than 15.
In this same populist, resentful, class-warfare vein, the announcement that there would be no players’ courtesy cars at this year’s tournament at Torrey Pines due to the troubled economy made reference to the players’ “gilded existence.”
On the other hand, troubled, British rocker/drugger, Amy Winehouse, turned to the wholesome activity of golf and that’s somehow a Dubious Achievement. “Hey! We gave Michael Campbell a kick while he was down. Let’s give Amy a kick too!” I’m not sure we want to discourage people who are trying to make positive changes in their lives.
In that same vein, a photo of Michael Vick reports that he missed his own charity golf tournament in Georgia, implying still more, sigh, irresponsibility. But if you follow the link, you discover that his travel was restricted under his parole and his Philadelphia parole officer refused to authorize the trip.
These are just some of the 41 “achievements,” but to go on merely belabors the point.
It is certainly appropriate to report on players’ play and behavior in tournaments. But it demeans them to gratuitously point out their human mistakes, stupidity, foibles, personality quirks and troubles in an attempt at a snide, hip, conversation piece.
It also demeans the game, it demeans the GOLF magazine brand, but worst, it demeans and debases their readers by catering to their increasingly cultivated prurient interests by the tabloid media.
I do not mean to be a Pollyanna, people have their dark sides and behaviors. But the game of golf calls on the best in people in order to be successful. We should celebrate and promote that aspect of golf and leave the lonely trails that John Daly, Michael Campbell and Michael Vick have to travel to themselves and the insidious tabloids.
And perhaps this post will call to Mike Walker’s higher nature as he walks his own path.