OK, so this year isn't the best time to complain. There wasn't exactly an abundance of great candidates. In fact, we're not sure if there were any candidates. But that doesn't explain the award show's lifetime of turning its back on our favorite sport.
As far as we can tell, a golf-based movie has never even received an Oscar nomination. For anything. Not for best actor. (Hello, Will Smith in "The Legend of Bagger Vance.") Not for best director. (Does Harold Ramis' work on "Caddyshack" ring a bell?) Not even for best original score. (Um, has the Academy ever listened to the title theme from "The Greatest Game Ever Played"?)
Sure, silly comedies like "Caddyshack" or "Happy Gilmore" -- no matter what the subject matter -- often don't receive any love from the stuffy Academy (If "Anchorman" couldn't land a nomination, nothing will), but what about a movie that blends laughter and heartache as brilliantly as "Tin Cup"? Just watch the movie's bittersweet climax:
Yes, spinning a 3-wood back into the hole from 235 yards at the U.S. Open is a bit of a stretch, but this is Hollywood we're talking about! Oh, and nothing for Kevin Costner? Eh, we can see that. But Cheech Marin couldn't get a supporting actor nod for his brilliant portrayal of Romeo the caddie? SNUB.
Or what about more serious films that chronicle historic events or people like "The Greatest Game Ever Played" or the biopic "Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius." Those movies even starred legit actors like Shia LaBeouf and Jim Caviezel! Then there are cult classics like "Dead Solid Perfect" (based on the novel by Dan Jenkins) and "Follow the Sun," the story of Ben Hogan's comeback from a near-fatal car accident. You can't have a more inspirational plot than that! And still, no love from the Academy.
When the documentary "The Short Game" came out in 2013, it looked like golf might end its long drought at film's biggest awards show -- even if it came in the documentary category. But despite winning the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival that year, the Oscars didn't come calling.
Meanwhile, a documentary about a high school football team coming of age in Memphis, "Undefeated," won the Academy Award for best documentary just two years before. And SPOILER ALERT: the team didn't even go undefeated!
In other words, the Oscars likes sports, especially boxing ("Rocky," "Raging Bull," "Million Dollar Baby"). It just doesn't like golf. At least, until there's a movie about the sport directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day Lewis and Meryl Streep. Maybe that would get the Academy's attention.
Mariota's other favorite sport came up during his press conference ahead of Monday night's national championship game, in which his Oregon squad will face Ohio State. Here's what he had to say when asked about playing golf:
"Golf is a frustrating sport. You can hit a nice shot, then the next one you can hit it in the water. You know, in that sense, it is a little frustrating, but I think that game has allowed us to kind of deal with a little bit of adversity and frustration and has helped us in the long run."
When Mariota says "us," he's referring to Oregon teammates like Hroniss Grasu, with whom he plays golf almost every day in the offseason, according to Cleveland.com. The Ducks' center was asked if he's ever seen his quarterback frustrated and responded, "Yeah, on the golf course," where Mariota's immense football talent doesn't translate.
According to the story, Mariota shows that frustration by walking to his ball after hitting a bad shot instead of getting back into his golf cart. That must be a challenge for a star athlete in charge of arguably the fastest-paced offense in football history.
And maybe it's a trick he learned this past semester. Needing to complete just two more courses to graduate, Mariota only took golf and yoga in the fall. Yeah, we'd say it's been a dream senior year so far.
1. NFL Playoffs: Sadly, Wildcard Weekend's biggest story was a blown penalty call that helped America's (least favorite) team top the Detroit Lions. The Cowboys should have an even tougher test this Sunday when they travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers. Green Bay, can you please beat this guy?
If that game's not enough, Sunday will also feature the Broncos and Peyton Manning going up against his former team, the Colts, and the guy who replaced him in Indianapolis, Andrew Luck. Saturday's appetizer games of Patriots-Ravens and Seahawks-Panthers aren't bad either. This is one weekend where you wouldn't mind being snowed in.
2. College Football Championship Game: On paper, a matchup pitting the Heisman-Trophy-winning quarterback versus a third-string play-caller seems absurd. Apparently, it's not if that third-stringer is being coached by Urban Meyer. Cardale Jones, who is only leading the Ohio State offense because the two guys ahead of him are injured, leads the Buckeyes against the Oregon Ducks and Marcus Mariota Monday night in the national title game. And lead it he has. In Jones' first two starts, Ohio State has scored 101 combined points against two great defenses in upset wins over Wisconsin and Alabama. Oregon's strength lies in its fast-paced offense. In other words, if you're a fan of seeing points scored, you may want to tune in.
3. PGA Tour returns: They're back! Well, at least some of them. The 2014-15 PGA Tour season resumes (again) in Hawaii at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and there are SO MANY questions to be answered. Is Tiger really healthy? Will Rory remain the undisputed No. 1? Can close-call Rickie actually win a major? Can Jordan win an event that actually counts as a PGA Tour event? OK, so none of those questions can be answered this week, but the event is still worth watching -- even if it's just to see what nice weather looks like.
4. The Golden Globes: The past year has been a golden one for both movies and TV, and this Sunday is the start of 2015's award season to start honoring the best. I haven't seen "Selma" or "Boyhood" yet, but "The Imitation Game" seems worthy of taking best drama. On the TV side, there's not as much drama with HBO's "True Detective" being nominated in the "mini-series or TV movie" category. At least, us Matthew McConaughey fans won't have to go through another heartbreaking loss.
5. The New York Knicks: Speaking of heartbreaking, my favorite basketball team has become the laughingstock of the NBA. After a recent trade to get golf fanatic J.R. Smith (and his contract) off the team and with Carmelo Anthony sitting out with an injured knee, the Knicks are sporting one of the worst lineups I can remember. Some guy named Langston Galloway was their best player in a blowout loss on Friday that was the team's 14th straight defeat. With a 5-33 record, it's time to enter full tank mode. Thankfully, this year's first-round selection is the only valuable draft pick former team president/franchise wrecking ball Isiah Thomas didn't give away.
1. NCAA Playoffs: At least, we don't have to worry about Jack Nicklaus having to choose between rooting for his alma mater or his family (like that was actually a tough choice) anymore. Jack's Buckeyes upset Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, while Florida State and Jack's grandson, Nick O'Leary, got blown out by Oregon on the first day in college football playoff history. Wow, what a novel concept to have a playoff to determine the natural champion! Well, better late than never. Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the Ducks will be a heavy favorite over Ohio State in the title game on Jan. 12. He's also the country's favorite college football player after putting an end to the Jameis Winston era at FSU.
2. NFL Playoffs: Pro football's postseason is well established and wonderful -- even if it means the end of the NFL RedZone Channel. The featured game of Wildcard weekend features the detestable Dallas Cowboys (Yes, I'm a Giants fan, but is any non-Cowboys fan rooting for Jerry Jones?) hosting the equally detestable Detroit Lions and Ndamukong Suh, who has a nasty habit of stomping on other players. Maybe you'll think of him in a different light, though, when you check out this wonderfully random photo of Suh, Warren Buffett and Kathy Ireland putting indoor:
Nope, he's still pretty tough to root for.
3. AP Male Athlete of the Year: Another end of the season award, another snub for Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for third with Derek Jeter. Baseball still rates a lot higher with the voters than golf. At least, winner Madison Bumgarner, also SI's Sportsman of the Year, and runner-up Clayton Kershaw also had historic seasons (regular season in the case of Kershaw). But Jeter? The guy basically spent the entire season making ceremonial appearances and collecting retirement gifts.
4. AP Female Athlete of the Year: Mo'ne Davis was a fantastic story over the summer, but was this 13-year-old Little League star really the female athlete of the year? The voters could have gone with one of the usual suspects like Serena Williams, but what about Lydia Ko? Just four years older than Davis, one could argue Ko is the best in the WORLD at what she does. We're officially launching our campaign for her in 2015.
5. "90 Day Fiance": You know what's the funny thing about being forced by your fiancee to watch certain TV programs? Sometimes, you wind up really enjoying them. Such was the case with TLC's "90 Day Fiancee," which tracks a group of people in the U.S. on K-1 visas -- meaning they have 90 days to get married or they have to return to their home countries. This show was fascinating, especially the one couple in which the man, Mohammed, was clearly just going through with the marriage to get his Green Card. OK, so my first New Year's resolution might be to cut back on the reality TV. . .
How that nothing quote made it into a daily golf quote calendar that sits on my desk is puzzling and I would have just ripped it off and thrown it in the garbage immediately if not for the timing. As I had driven to work that day, Jan. 24, 2014, I heard on the radio Bieber had been arrested for DUI and resisting arrest earlier THAT morning in Miami.
What are the odds? I thought. After all, this wasn't a TMZ Hollywood Teen Heartthrobs one-a-day calendar. It was a daily golf calendar. You know, one of those silly things you get for Christmas, bring into your office and dutifully keep up with for about two weeks before forgetting all about it? But little did I know this was just the start of a series of prescient entries in 2014, and I kept turning the pages for all 12 months. Here are some others -- granted, a few are a bit of a stretch -- I came across:
Monday, Jan. 27: "I see no reason why a golf course cannot be played in 18 birdies. Just because no one has ever done that doesn't mean it can't be done." -- Ben Hogan
Patrick Reed didn't quite accomplish Mr. Hogan's dream, but he did do something no PGA Tour player had ever done before that weekend, firing three consecutive 63s in his first three rounds at the Humana Challenge on his way to a win.
Tuesday, April 1: "There isn't a flaw in his golf or his makeup. He will win more majors than Arnold Palmer and me combined. Somebody is going to dust my records. It might as well be Tiger, because he's such a great kid." -- Jack Nicklaus
That very day, Tiger Woods announced he had undergone back surgery and would miss the Masters for the first time as a pro. Jack's prediction seems like a real long shot at this point -- not that he probably minds too much.
Monday, June 23: "Jimmy Fallon and I play regularly at the Bayonne Golf Club in Jersey. He's 18 holes of fun. Any time we play he has moments of brilliance, but also moments of utter catastrophe." -- Mario Batali
And who was June's Golf Digest cover boy? That's right, Jimmy Fallon! Again, like the Bieber quote, how did this one even make the cut?!
Thursday, Aug. 7: "Sport is a wonderful metaphor for life. Of all the sports that I played -- skiing, baseball, fishing -- there's not greater example than golf, because you're playing against yourself and nature." -- Robert Redford
The following day, heavy rains hit Valhalla at the PGA Championship and caused a meltdown by Bubba Watson -- Bieber's golf bud -- that included cursing and having his caddie tee up a ball for him. We'll chalk that up as a victory for nature.
Friday, Aug. 8: "There are so many great players on the men's side -- and women's side. Hopefully, I can keep improving and eventually play in the Masters." -- Michelle Wie
That dream Wie had as a teen probably won't come true, but three weeks later, she became the first female pro golfer to appear on the cover of Golf Digest in six years. That's just as good!
Saturday/Sunday, Aug. 23-24: "Golf teaches success and failure. Neither lasts long." -- Glenn Kummer
I have absolutely no idea who Glenn Kummer is. Regardless, his words especially rang true on the day Camilo Villegas won the Wyndham Championship. Once a rising superstar on tour, Villegas had lost his tour card before an unlikely victory put him back on track.
Thursday, Sept. 11: "Each golfer has to understand his temperament before he can learn to manage it." -- Richard Coop
This quote appeared on the day of the Tour Championship's first round. Why was the timing so appropriate? Because a calmer and more mature Billy Horschel, who many believed had been held back by a bad temper early in his career, would go onto win for a second week in a row to claim the FedEx Cup and a $10 million bonus. Billy should be all smiles on the course in 2015.
Wednesday, Oct. 1: "You can talk strategy all you want, but what really matters is resiliency." -- Hale Irwin
This amid all the reactions to Tom Watson's failed Ryder Cup captaincy the previous week. Something tells us Hale would have placed most of the blame on the U.S. players not getting the job done at Gleneagles.
Wednesday, Oct. 8: "Ty Tryon made a lot of money after turning pro, but he might not have been ready. I don't want to make a lot of money for a couple months, and then not be ready." -- Michelle Wie
Despite that statement made as a youth, Wie suffered a similar fate after turning pro at 16 and taking eight more years to have the breakout season in 2014 we had been waiting for. On the other hand, Lydia Ko remained an amateur past the point of proving she could win on the LPGA Tour. A year later -- and six weeks after this Wie quote popped up on my desk -- Ko won the CME Group Tour Championship to earned the biggest payday ($1.5 million) in LPGA history. OK, so now we're really stretching. . .
So, there you have it. This tiny present from 2013 was truly a gift that kept on giving in 2014. Unfortunately, though, I didn't find one in my stocking this year. Looks like I'm not done with my Christmas shopping, after all.
We're not quite sure what to make of The Golf Boys star's first solo musical effort, but if you are a fan of hovercrafts, a dancing Gumby, and Bubba rapping to a hip-hop-flavored version of the "Hallelujah Chorus," then you're in for a treat.
Rory McIlroy didn't win every award in 2014 after all, still trails Tiger 2-0 in one particular honor
Instead, that honor went to another 25-year-old star, Madison Bumgarner, who led the San Francisco Giants to their third World Series title in five years. Wait, that's it?!
Oh, he won both his World Series starts and added a five-inning save in Game 7? And he allowed just one run in 21 innings and had a 1.03 ERA in 52.2 innings in what many called the greatest postseason pitching performance of all time? Getting better. Oh, according to his dad, the left-handed hurler plays golf as a righty? Fine, fine. Give him the award.
Bumgarner beat out McIlroy and other nominees like Russell Wilson, Michael Sam, Mo'ne Davis, and Tim Howard. SI golf writer Alan Shipnuck, who pushed for McIlroy, was disappointed when he heard the news.
Subjective awards are always open to debate and comparing athletes from different sports makes things even trickier. But before you cite an anti-golf bias, know the sport has had a fair share of winners through the years, especially before 1980: Arnold Palmer (1960), Ken Venturi (1964), Lee Trevino (1971), Jack Nicklaus (1978), Patty Sheehan (1987 -- one of eight co-winners), and Tiger Woods (1996 and 2000).
So, there's hope for you yet, Rory. Just win three majors next year and you should have a better chance.
Underrated moments in golf history: That time Psy's "Gangnam Style" took center stage at a PGA Tour event
Here's the official video (there are others with tons of views as well), which was uploaded on July 15, 2012, in case you forgot or are the only person on Earth with access to a computer who hasn't seen it yet:
A YouTube video maxing out on the ability to count views has never happened before, and Google quickly addressed the issue in a statement, "We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer." Whatever that means. In any matter, Google figured out a fix -- at least, for now -- and the number is rising again.
You may remember "Gangnam Style" reaching the PGA Tour during the final round of the 2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open. After making a birdie at TPC Scottsdale's raucous 16th hole, James Hahn did an extended -- and well done -- version of the dance:
YouTube probably doesn't have to worry about Hahn's video breaking its counter, but the clip is up to more than 328,000 views (only 2.1 BILLION and change behind!). Not bad for a golfer whose biggest claim to fame is. . . OK, so that's probably his biggest claim to fame.
UPDATE: After beating Dustin Johnson in a playoff at Riviera on Sunday, Hahn is now known for winning the Northern Trust Open and for his dance moves. With the victory, Hahn qualifies for the Masters for the first time. We don't anticipate him going Gangnam style at Augusta National, but we can dream, right?
Such was the case last week while I was watching "The Fatigues," which originally aired on Halloween in 1996. If you're not familiar with the sixth episode of the penultimate eighth season, it's the one where Elaine -- who is running the J. Peterman Catalogue at the time -- keeps promoting a guy wearing military fatigues because she's intimidated by him.
And since "Seinfeld" episodes always contain multiple plots that all seem to smartly weave together, it's also the one in which Jerry winds up mentoring hack comedian Kenny Bania, George has trouble reading a book about risk management, and Kramer urges Frank Costanza to come out of retirement as a chef to help him host a Jewish singles night in this classic scene:
Oh yeah, yada, yada, yada, it's also the episode that features "Golf Digest." Just look at this frame of Jerry talking to Bania on the street:
Now that's product placement.
Of course, it was just a coincidence (we might think otherwise if creator Larry David, an avid golfer, hadn't left after the seventh season), but the January 1996 issue (we went through our archives) that touted the magazine's "50 Greatest Tips Ever" was/remains pretty useful to display. Here's a closer look at the cover:
Surprisingly, not much has changed in golf in the nearly two decades since. That magazine only cost $1 less than it would today on newsstands, it contained a story about Europe beating the U.S. at the Ryder Cup, and it featured Dan Jenkins tweaking Tiger Woods by not listing him among the 72 greatest golfers of all time. OK, so Woods was still six months away from turning pro.
In any matter, Golf Digest appeared in an episode of "Seinfeld" and we have the proof. Now excuse us while we go celebrate like it's Festivus.