Call me shallow, simple, unsophisticated if you must, but I won’t apologize for preferring Norman Rockwell’s paintings to extremely abstract art. Rockwell’s art tells stories to which we all can relate. Wildly abstract art is not nearly as inclusive.
Similarly, I much prefer to watch golf tournaments played on courses that don’t look thirsty, don’t have multi-colored greens, don’t need dots to inform where the fairway ends and the green begins.
Traditional golf courses, lined with trees, lush grass of different heights, greens with fringes, guarded by bunkers filled with bright, white sand, play better on television.
Chambers Bay, site of the U.S. Open that Jordan Spieth won Sunday, proved a fair test of talent, given that the leaderboard was stuffed with the biggest names in golf. But beautiful? Not on TV. Relatable? Watching it made me want to crawl into my boob tube with a hose so that I could water the greens, or at least with a can of spray paint to remind everyone why putting surfaces are called greens and not “browns” or “measles outbreaks” or “rainbows.”
Yet, even a stage on the ugly side couldn’t kill the drama of a tournament in which Spieth made double-bogey on the par 3 No. 17 and prepared for the possibilities of finishing second, moving onto a playoff, or winning as Dustin Johnson studied a 12-foot eagle putt. Johnson rolled it about four feet past, meaning Spieth at worst would have a shot at winning in an 18-hole playoff. Johnson missed again and one of the first things Spieth told his proud, congratulatory father on Father’s Day was that he felt “terrible” for Johnson. That’s precisely what any father would want to hear his son say at such a moment.
Spieth and Rory McIlroy, replacing Tiger Woods and still-strong Phil Mickelson, are the world’s two best players, but those on tour believe Johnson to be the most talented. His time will come if he doesn’t get in his own way.
With such great young talent battling in majors, golf’s in a great place. In next year’s U.S. Open, the young talent will battle on an old, traditional, green course, Oakmont Country Club in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yes!
By then, Tatum Gretzky Johnson, son of Dustin and maternal grandson of the great Wayne Gretzky, will be one year closer to world-class-athlete status. And Johnson, with four near misses in majors, might already have won one.
Greg Norman, near the end of the Fox telecast, in timely fashion shared what the great Tom Watson once told him: “Once you bite that snake’s head off, that snake’s dead forever.”
Rare is the golfer who doesn’t know the feeling of having a snake wrapped around his neck.