Thursday, April 28, 2011

Great. Another Former Pro Athlete is Playing a Nationwide Event


You guys knows this Nationwide Tour invitee stuff gets my blood boiling. Probably more than anything else in golf, really. This week, at the Whateversponsorwillstickaroundfortwoyears Open on the Nationwide Tour, John Smoltz is teeing it up in hopes of trying to what Jerry Rice couldn't.

Smoltz, like Rice, is taking a spot from someone more deserving, and while he answered questions to Golfweek that were the right thing to say, he's still taking a spot, and that still bothers me, but I guess this tour is going to keep doing this for years to come (I'm hoping they'll eventually have a Dancing With the Stars Open, where all former DWTS participants get a spot in the event that week no matter their handicap).

But here is the problem - people actually think Smoltz is good enough to compete this week. They think that just because he can break 65 on his home track, or that he is a scratch golfer (whatever that even means anymore), that he has the game to hang with some of the most talented golfers in the world. It's insanity, really. Pure insanity. Here, I'll give you an example of how insane this is - a guy at my gym used to play a lot of basketball with us. We called him "Big Swol" because he was a really muscular guy, and he could shoot the lights out. His measurements were about 6-foot-1, 215, white, and could occasionally dunk it if nobody was around and he had the perfect lane to the basket. One day, I'm shooting around with this guy and he tells me, completely straight-faced, "Man, all I need is 15 days with the Suns and I'd be signed. Fifteen days! That's all I need." This guy really thought that he could make a NBA team. HE REALLY THOUGHT THIS! Never did it cross his mind that 6-foot-1 white guys that aren't quick and shoot well at the local LA Fitness aren't exactly the NBA prototype. Did it ever cross his mind that he would have 6-foot-8 guards that can jump higher than him and are twice as quick coming out him anytime Steve Nash kicked him the ball? Of course not, because he's convinced that he would be an asset to a team just because he can make some three pointers. Well, memo buddy, but EVERY guard in the NBA can shoot well. That's why they're in the NBA.

So, the fact that Smoltz has a career round of 63 shouldn't mean jack to anyone. I've shot lower than that. My buddies have shot lower than that. Hell, every golfer in the field this week at the Nationwide event has probably posted a 63 in the last 30 days or so.

Also, Smoltz has mentioned taking a shot at the Champions Tour, which cracks me up. What is it about guys that turn 50 thinking they can turn their game around and compete with guys that have been doing it since they were 21? I've heard this sob story from about 20 older men, and it is probably one of my favorite things to do. My uncle, who turned 60 recently, has a friend the same age that was the next Nicklaus when they were kids. He's played in some PGA Tour events, and has qualified for some Champions Tour majors, yet he can't even sniff making the Champions Tour, and never will. This is a guy that shot 64 with me the other day. As my uncle tells every older man that thinks they have a shot with the seniors; "Go out and beat this guy for a week straight, and then come talk to me." It isn't going to happen.

But Smoltz has a dream, and some cockiness, and that's perfectly fine; I don't expect him to make the cut here because it will be a whole different beast for him. I don't fault him as much as I fault the tour for trying to land eyeballs for all of this. When Michelle Wie wanted to play on the PGA Tour, I didn't hate the idea; what I hated, was when she went after it a fourth and fifth time. One time is cute; four times is an insult.

7 comments:

Superficial said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
biscotti said...

Hey Shane - How would you feel about this practice of professional athlete/part-time golfers teeing it up in Nationwide events if their presence brought greater awareness to the tour, more advertisers, and larger purses? My understanding from you and a handful of articles is that making a living off the Nationwide tour is virtually impossible, but what if these celebrity athletes made that slightly more attainable. Would the extra money for the one-person smaller field be worth the trade off?

evov31 said...

I like that the sponsor exemptions get people like Smolz and Rice into these events. I agree with the point that biscotti is making that it draws interest to the event (I certainly wouldn’t care about the Whateversponsorwillstickaroundfortwoyears Open, nor watch it on the Golf Channel with out something like this) and helps every body on the tour by doing so. Usually the sponsors have 2 -4 exemptions to give, and for a developmental tour I think one per tourney used like this would be a good thing. I see your point about Michelle Wie. I don’t have a good explanation as to why I feel differently about the Nationwide tour as opposed to the PGA, but if she wanted to tee it up each week on the Nationwide tour I’d be for it. Unless Smolz or Rice were going to take that spot… :)

Anonymous said...

By hosting an event the committee can put ANYONE in the line up of golfers. I've seen firemen, policemen and others get a shot playing. It goes with the game and there is nothing wrong with it.

Steve said...

Heh Shane, I can't name one Nationwide tour Player, Can't name one nationwide tour event. But I would watch Smoltz try to chase his middle-aged dream. No one but you cares about the other guy who didn't get a sponsers exemption, because of Smoltz to this tourny.

Anonymous said...

Your article makes no sense. First, you decry the "Whateversponsorwillstickaroundfortwoyears" Open and then you complain about Smoltz playing. Maybe the "Whateversponsorwillstickaroundfortwoyears" will stick around for more than 2 years because of the notoriety of someone like Smoltz in the event.

Anonymous said...

I would watch Smolz play, while I wouldn't watch someone else I didn't know.