Oh boy, another midwinter Sunday. A full day off and nothing to do. Too cold to go outside. Guess I'll just stay in. And do what? Read a book? Paint a room? Learn Albanian? (Just enough to get by in the major cities: hello, goodbye, can you please get your goat out of the intersection?) Nah. I think once again I'll indulge my favorite Dreary Weekend pastime, more or less watching golf on TV.
Visual Nytol. Video Valium. God help me, I love it so.
If I close my eyes -- and believe me, I do -- I can hear them now, the whispering tones of those anchoroos welcoming me to the lush, tropical splendor of Riviera or Eldorado or Torrey Pines or Pebble Beach, in a sunny or scenic or historic city like Miami, El Paso or Honolulu. We're in luck, they're going tee to green for all 18. Fluff up the pillows, it's a great day for golf.
At this time I'm horizontal. Strategy is crucial. Never watch golf sitting up -- you might get involved in it. (Personally, I favor a couch over a recliner, but feel free to make your own fashion statement.) By now they're going to the leader board, revealing how someone is clinging precariously to a one-shot lead, or holds a slim two-shot lead, or enjoys a comfortable four-stroke lead, or has opened up a wide six-shot lead on the rest of the field. And what a field it is: Morris Hatalsky, Jodie Mudd, Rex Caldwell, Larry Mize, Jeff Sluman, Alan Tapie, Mark Wiebe and my personal favorite, Bob Tway.
I have no idea what happens next. I'm already history. I'm gone. I'm out of here. Nod City. If I'm real tired, and I get real lucky because the name of the tournament is impossibly long, like the "Lloyd, Beau, Jeff and London Bridges Underwater Invitational," or "The Bakersfield Junior Chamber of Commerce, Isuzu, Buick, Conoco, Denny's Pat and Debbie Boone All You Need Is Milk and God Celebrity Pro-Am," I can be asleep before we even get to the leader board.
Why is televised golf such a snooze machine?
Because, as Billy Murray had the campers chant, It Just Doesn't Matter!
The opening shot of the golf course is drop-dead gorgeous. The greens and fairways are luxuriously manicured, the sand is soft, the trees and flowers are exploding into bloom. (What did you expect TV to show you in February, a ratty, nubby, snow-covered mound of dirt in Vermont?) But every golf course looks like this on TV. After the establishing shot you can't perceive a difference between Honolulu and Moline, Ill.
Not only doesn't it matter where they're playing, it also doesn't matter who's playing. Most of these guys seem so similar, so blond, bland and boring that the official food of the PGA Tour ought to be individually wrapped slices of processed American cheese. Did you ever hear their standard victory speech? Okay. So and so has just rolled in a "tricky three-footer" to save par, preserve his eight-shot lead and pocket $320,000. Here we go: "All I can say is I was real lucky to win this, and I appreciate you having me here. I'd like to thank everyone for a terrific tournament, the fabulous housing committee, the sensational sponsors, the wonderful groundskeepers. Most of all, thanks to you outstanding fans who came out to see us. I just hope you'll invite me back next year."
And you thought you had to go to the store to buy Sominex.
The announcers are part of the conspiracy, too. They've all got that same, soothing, late night FM, pulse check, half a decibel level whisper. Laid back? These guys are laid down.
But the great joy of sleeping through another televised golf tournament is that no matter when you wake up, if it's with two holes to go, with two strokes to go -- even if you wake up during the Sunday night movie -- It Just Doesn't Matter! It's like on the afternoon soap operas: the faces change, but the plots remain constant. You can doze off comfortably, secure in the knowledge that next week, same time if not the same channel, someone will be clinging precariously to a one-shot lead or will have opened up a wide six-stroke lead.
I can't get enough of the stuff. I'm hoping they put it on video cassettes. I'll go out and buy some, and pop them into the VCR whenever I need a nap. How about "Great Water Holes in the Northeast." Or "Vic Regalado and Dr. Gil Morgan Discuss The History of the Two-Iron." Or "Andymania! Andy Bean, Andy North and Andy Griffith Play The Andy Williams." Or an import classic, the "King Hussein Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan Fig and Pita Bread Desert Classic."
Let me propose a toast to golf: To the Scots for inventing it. To Arnold Palmer for popularizing it. And, of course, to television for televising it.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to lie down. I just heard the unmistakable sound of a five-wood being struck.