Bird Brown: Thanksgiving golf event may have met its match

Thanksgiving weekend was a normal holiday weekend in our house. Thursday was spent cooking, driving, eating, sharing quality time with our closest family members, and then driving home again.

The weekend had us up and down Md. 97 to Howard County to play in a huge soccer tournament held at a variety of modern sports parks with turf fields as far as the eye can see.


Friday is normally about Black Friday shopping, but when your kids are all older and everyone is off work and/or school on the same day on that rare occasion, it is far more enjoyable to just hang with the family.

So, we took full advantage of the day off.


As we were all laying around on the couches or chairs and ottomans, doing what we do best, we remembered that we had seen the preview piece leading up to the Phil Mickelson vs. Tiger Woods Match Play golf event earlier in the week and searched the TV guide for the pay-per-view event.

It wasn’t hard to find when flipping through the channels as it was advertised like a Floyd Mayweather boxing match.

Even though we were moving in and out of the house for various activities and friends were coming and going throughout the day, it was well worth the $20 cost to have the “Main Event” live streaming on our TV all day.

I used to be a huge boxing fan when I thought there was a chance that it wasn’t fixed and there were great competitors like Sweet Pea Whitaker, Oscar de la Hoya, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson. We often gathered at someone’s house and chipped in toward the $60 fee to watch what were some great boxing matches.

But there were also some duds as well.

This was a “can’t miss” pay-per-view event where Mickelson and Woods would play an 18-hole tournament, match play format, in a $9 million, winner-take-all extravaganza. So, to pay $20 for several hours of entertainment didn’t seem like a stretch, considering some of the $60 events we paid for would include Tyson ending the fight in the first round.

The stakes were raised when earlier in the week at a press conference, Mickelson placed a side bet with Woods that he would make a birdie on the first hole, $100,000 going to the winner’s favorite charity.

That was about as exciting as it got.

As the two were walking toward the first hole after securing their drives in the fairway, cameras were capturing every move and waiting for the one-liners and other zingers they surely would be throwing in each other’s direction as the match unfolded.

Somewhere between the fairway and the green after little fanfare, my son said, “this is just watching two nerds take a walk and trying to trash talk each other.”

These were two of the best golfers of our generation battling it out for a significant pot of cash. There were side bets that tallied over a half million dollars toward charity. But there were very few amazing shots that took your breath away, nor was there really any good smack talking going on.

I enjoyed it just as sports entertainment in general (and mostly that I didn’t have to leave the comfort of my own home), but it was about as exciting as watching an Orioles game this summer.


I would like to have seen a different format. Maybe since Capital One was a big sponsor and were a big presence in the commentator’s booth, why not put a foursome of Spike Lee, Terry Bradshaw, Samuel L. Jackson, and Charles Barkley on the course in front of Mickelson and Woods?

Let the pros play their rounds, but make them have to have their pace of play interrupted as Sir Charles drives his ball in to the woods and spends 10 minutes looking for it. Have the talk show hosts mic’d up so that the real-life, unscripted trash-talking between Barkley and Bradshaw, Jackson, and Lee, would keep the viewer’s attention while we were waiting for the pros to approach their next shot.

I dig those old Peyton Manning commercials where he changed roles and was the fan of various professions, yelling “Cut that Meat, Cut that Meat,” or “Tommy, you’re my favorite accountant.”

I would love to have seen him in the gallery last Friday, yelling, “You da man!” every time one of the pros drove the ball, and, “Get in the hole” after each putt.

There were so many ways that they could have made the event more exciting, but unfortunately this is where we’ve come in the world of sports entertainment.

Walt Disney once wrote, ““I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.”

Maybe next time, at least throw in some cheerleaders.

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