TaylorMade Driving Relief event puts golf on the road to return
"We have a long way to go before we get to his utopia of packed sports stadiums and thronging galleries at golf tournaments. But it also showed us that the phrase 'where there's a will, there's a way' is no empty cliché"
Last Updated: 19/05/20 8:48am
Sunday's skins match may have been tournament golf unplugged but the sound from Seminole was sweet soul music for our troubled minds.
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Nothing was perfect about the golf or the television production, but the overall effect was a soothing balm to ease away worry and tension. More than that, it may have given us the confidence to look ahead and realistically anticipate the return of proper golf.
In times to come, we will perhaps look back on the day a bag-carrying Sunday fourball on the east coast of Florida looked out at the Atlantic Ocean and turned the tide in sport's favour.
Maybe it's too optimistic to think along these lines and perhaps too soon after so many deaths, but we have to start somewhere and the impact of a gentle afternoon stroll around the hallowed grounds of Seminole should not be underestimated.
Four golfers and a small entourage of officials and television crew took a calculated risk to raise more than $5m for the people most in danger and, at the same time, provide much-needed entertainment for millions of sports fans. Part of the fun was seeing how awkward the whole occasion was for everyone involved.
For a start, the players were wearing microphones most likely designed to pick up light-hearted chit-chat but, given the rustiness of their games, the outcome was more likely to be a series of swear words. To their credit, they maintained their composure and I enjoyed their quiet exchanges about the line and weight of their putts.
That's all that was needed because there's nothing worse than sportsmen trying too hard to be funny and after a couple of early attempts at humour, the players seemed to sense it wasn't the right time anyway.
Which brings us to the inclusion of Bill Murray as a guest. For such a likeable, intelligent and comedic individual, Murray has the surprising ability to be remarkably unfunny.
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I know we should be grateful he was willing to get involved but perhaps someone should have taken him to the Skype practice range and given him some tips about speech delays which, in fairness, also caught out some of the professionals on the broadcast.
None of that, of course, troubled President Trump when he called in from the White House just as the players were approaching the turn.
His conversations tend to be a shade one-sided at the best of times so he was very much at home with the latitude afforded by a sports environment. As he warmed to his theme of the American economy and the millions of virus tests being achieved, I tried to imagine what percentage of the TV audience was changing channels or turning off.
NBC's Mike Tirico tried to politely keep him on point about the return of golf and even risked a reference to Rory McIlroy's criticism of the President's performance over the last two months.
Trump brushed that aside easily and carried on regardless. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I thought the President was noticeably more fluent and coherent in the context of a sports broadcast than he is in the more chaotic political arena.
Having said that, he still used up his entire month's supply of the words "great, tremendous, and incredible" in 10 minutes. I'm sure someone in the NBC production team must have thought about patching President Trump straight through to Rory, but that moment of sheer bliss for us would surely have ended badly for everyone on the ground.
Instead, the greater good prevailed and, generally, that was the essence of the whole day, an occasion when the players and the TV people and us, the viewers, tolerated something far short of perfection in return for a few hours of gentle therapy.
It showed us what we may have to get used to in the coming months because, despite Donald Trump's obsessional optimism, we have a long way to go before we get to his utopia of packed sports stadiums and thronging galleries at golf tournaments. But it also showed us that the phrase 'where there's a will, there's a way' is no empty cliché.
Rory, Dustin, Rickie, and Matthew were the stars of a show created by people prepared to go the extra mile, even if the eventual outcome was not as slick as they would like it to be.
We should be grateful to them all but, equally, we should not forget one key ingredient that brought dignity and stature to the whole occasion. Seminole Golf Club was everything I had hoped it would be. On the one hand, grand, magnificent, and manicured, on the other, simple, modest, and natural.
The commentators described it perfectly as a club that does golf and nothing else. How fitting that an old course in one of the smallest plots of land anywhere in the world should have played its part in getting us back on the road to golf's big future.