Golf has a chance to be the talk of the sports world

I have some simple advice for the players and broadcasters as PGA Tour events return to our TV screens this month:

Banter amid the birdies.

Byplay or the highway.

Otherwise, you’ll be no match for The Match.

Those four hours of bliss on May 24 spoiled golf fans. Tiger Woods tweaking Phil Mickelson about Lefty’s U.S. Open heartbreaks. Charles Barkley bringing the barbs out of anyone who would listen – and Tom Brady and Justin Thomas most certainly were listening.

So was the viewing audience. We were listening intently. We couldn’t get enough of it.

It went right to the heart of what I’ve been preaching for years: Our great game is fun. It should be filled with laughter and joking and just pure, unadulterated joy no matter what your score is.

Yes, I know it’s not a laughing matter for the pros – their income depends on it. But with the four major sports still trying to figure out how and when to return, golf has a chance to be center stage for a few weeks and bring in fans who otherwise would be more concerned with runs and points and goals.

It is an opportunity to show some personality.

It is an opportunity to show how they bounce back from bad shots with no crowds to deflect the ball back into play.

It is an opportunity to show how good they truly are.

But, most of all, it is an opportunity to connect with the only audience they’ll have – the people watching on TV.

I want to see on-course interviews regularly.

I want to hear what they’re saying to each other.

I want to feel as if I’m right there with these interesting, witty guys. Because that’s exactly how I felt during The Match.

Especially when it came to Mickelson.

Listening to him coach Brady through every chip shot and putt from just off the green was like getting a free lesson. He was analyzing every blade of grass, seeing things that most of us can’t comprehend.

And when Lefty had a chip shot of his own, he took the viewer on a journey through his mind as he described what he was going to do and then did exactly that.

Frankly, I could listen to Phil talk all day about shotmaking, strategy and wedge play, complete with his wonderful golf vocabulary. I wonder how many people now are referring to all their good shots as “salty.”

Could you imagine a better on-course reporting team than David Feherty and Phil Mickelson? How about a better booth pair than Lefty and Gary McCord?

Of course, we probably won’t be seeing Mickelson in an off-course role anytime soon because he still has a lot of game, as The Match demonstrated. He should be able to continue to compete on the PGA Tour for years, and then, if he wants to move over to the Champions Tour, I have no doubt he’ll dominate the old guys.

What does this have to do with you and me and our intense desire to tee it up as often as possible? Simple: The more we drink in golf’s delicious elixir of beauty, challenge and camaraderie, the more we want another … and another … and another.

Make it fun, guys. Make it salty.

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