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All over but the shouting

Netflix takes on the PGA Tour, while golf clubs get lost, found, and named in this week's Inanity Index

January 13, 2022

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The calendar has flipped to a new year and unfortunately for you, the Inanity Index came with it. We’re back after a cheerful holiday season full of omicron obstacles and adventures.

The first quarter of the year has been historically bountiful for the inanities around this game that amuse, entertain, and exhaust. 2022 is full of promise in this space so let’s get to some recent developments and “news” items.

A reminder of how this works here after the end-of-year layoff: The Inanity Index will consider stories, amusements, and controversies on a 0 to 5 scale, with 5 being the most inane and well—let’s face it—straight-up inconsequential if we want to be honest with ourselves about all that occupies our time shouting and laughing at each other in the golf corner of the world. As in golf, if you’re a serious person here, you’re aiming for the low number.

Putt to Survive

We’d heard little about the Netflix series focusing on PGA Tour stars since news of the concept initially bubbled up in September of last year. That quiet was probably a good thing, as it meant busy bees were working behind the scenes to officially bring it to life. Now, it’s confirmed, with fancy PGA Tour statements and player lists out there indicative of the kind of effort that’s been going on to pull something like this together.

The player list is impressive. It’s the kind of comprehensive and diverse collection that has you scanning to consider who’s not involved rather than being left unsatisfied with a few scant crumbs of starpower. It’s a strong collection from the top of the world rankings, an elite amateur, some journeymen, and some personalities we know will pop regardless of their OWGR.

Perhaps as impressive as the player list was the detail that all four men’s majors had also bought into the show, and will presumably be granting some level of access for filming at those most critical and intense moments of the year. It is no small feat to get the “five families” of men’s golf on the same page participating in the same outside media production, especially Augusta National. We’ll wait to see what the end result is but this access feels almost as critical to the storytelling of a series as access to the characters. This concept got both.

The only obstacle to universal praise and excitement over the announcement continues to be the PGA Tour’s editorial involvement. There were fearful refrains about the Tour, which is not a content production company first and foremost, and where every player is a class act and controversy does not exist, might muck up the authenticity paramount to the success of a series like this. It was such an elephant in the room that Dylan Dethier’s newsbreak on it included a comment from a PGA Tour spokesperson waving his or her hands disavowing their involvement in editorial control to assuage those fears. It was a relieving sentiment amid details on the show that could only be construed as promising.

“Editorial control” feels like a subjective gray zone. It seems clear Netflix and the production crew responsible for F1’s “Drive to Survive” will have the final call on what’s put out to the world, but how heavy handed will the suggestions and nudges be from the stakeholders of a sport that prefer to avoid uncomfortable dramas that might affect the cleanliness of a player’s brand. On that, it feels like we should be more narrowed in on the agencies who rep these players than the Tour comment about not having editorial control. These mega agencies control much of the game and from multiple sides, representing the players, media members, sponsor companies, and standing up many of the actual events. They’re incredibly powerful and persuasive and almost never cede control on anything, especially when it comes to a client’s image. It’s their job. So how much will their thumb be on the scale when it comes to the telling of their player’s stories?

In the end, the reactions, both the praise and concerns, are all being lodged over a press release and news of the show, not the actual show. Anticipation, praise, critiques – these are all subjective too and those will be lodged again once we have the actual product on our screens. Not everyone will be happy because no one ever is but what we have now is the news that this is happening, and that news is a wholly exciting development for the sport at the professional level.

There are new voices with a track record of storytelling success coming to the game, and players buying into the concept to actually make it real. There will be inane and amusing elements in the series, but the effort and success of pulling this together with this level of commitment from players and golf organizations is a resounding 0 out of 5 in the Inanity Index.

Lost and found

We have to stop freaking out every time a player’s golf clubs are lost or delayed arriving to their destination because of an airline mishap. It is an unfortunate fact of the world we currently inhabit, but on the scale of unfortunate facts about our world, it’s fairly small. It is inconvenient, frustrating, anxiety-inducing for the pro who may want his tools. But it happens every year, multiple times per year. The golf club mis-adventures to The Open feel like an annual tradition at this point.

So what felt like hourly coverage of Viktor Hovland’s clubs being lost, found, and eventually delivered broken while he waited to play Kapalua got a bit exhausting. This happens! It sucks for Hovland. Note it, empathize with him, and move on. But Hovland’s bag drama was covered at an interval of some critical bill being voted on in Congress. The coverage of it receives a 4 out of 5 on the Inanity Index.

Hair care

Erik van Rooyen has a mustache. Cameron Smith has a mullet. We’re aware of the situation.

The mullet was a whimsical diversion last year when it arrived on tour. Yet here we are many months later and it seems to be the primary lens with which we view Cam Smith’s story. He’s getting questions in mid-January about what the Presidents Cup would mean vis-a-vis the mullet.

Pages must be filled and air time occupied, but mullet talk is increasingly reaching “JT and Jordan are good buddies” saturation levels. Erik van Rooyen’s mustache is a newcomer to the scene and if he rises to top 10 in the world like Smith, that too will get similar exposure should it remain on his face. These hair matters stand out. It’s something to talk about. It adds a little color. And it’s also a solid 5 out of 5 on the Inanity Index.

Equipment naming season

I am not a gearhead. I have no idea what’s in the new clubs that come out every few hours or what it actually means, but I do admire the engineers’ effort and brilliance behind them.

The one thing that does pique my interest this time of year is what preposterous new names some of these clubs will carry as they’re rolled out and marketed to us. In recent years, it feels like we’re flipping through the thesaurus to find various modifiers and synonyms for the word speed.

In addition to the engineer’s efforts, I also applaud the brand folks’ effort multiple-times-per-year to come up with a name for a golf club that sounds like it could be some weapon in a comic book. Would you rather your protagonatist be rad, rogue, or stealth? It’s a personal amusement this time of year during rollout season, and a fun 4 out 5 on the Inanity Index.