By Michael Davis
PARDON this self-indulgence.
But I am more than a little peeved at the mainstream media’s never-ending snub of golf at a time when the game is experiencing a hitherto unseen surge in participation and interest.
Do the news editors, sports editors, producers and content creators have their heads buried in the sand when it comes to golf?
Or are they just so dumb, introspective and ignorant that they have no idea what’s happening in the real world?
For example, consider my former milieu – tabloid and broadsheet journalism – and their coverage of golf.
You struggle to find a line anywhere about the game even when the ‘majors’ are in full flight. And when they deign to publish something about golf, it appears so far back in the paper, or is given such little prominence on the respective websites, that it might as well not be there.
It is extremely short-sighted of the media ‘barons’ calling the shots. There is an audience out there starved of golf news.
Television is culpable too, with fans having to pay for golf content these days because the game has migrated behind the pay-tv wall.
There are a few exceptions, but why has free-to-air TV stopped bringing us the ‘majors’ live?
There was a time, too, when all media covered the game from grassroots to the majors.
Weekly golf columns abounded, golf pros gave lessons on sports shows, and each outlet had its own golf reporter at the big events in town and sometimes overseas.
Every paper in the country had a designated golf writer and the scribes travelled with the tour. And readers and viewers lapped it up.
I am happy to stand corrected. But to my knowledge there is not one specialist golf writer in the country working in mainstream media.
Take a look at what mainstream media bombards us with instead of running legitimate golf stories.
Have a glance at the garbage that is written on a daily basis about the two main football codes in Australia – Rugby League and Australian football.
I am a genuine fan of both codes. But spare me the rubbish that is written during the week about them.
And now we have to endure it during the off-seasons as well. The AFL – a body which is given to severe bouts of in-house self-adulation – thinks itself quite clever to have ‘hijacked’ the sports pages year-round.
More fool the media gurus for allowing it to happen. It’s lazy journalism putting your name on an AFL press release that amounts to little more than self-aggrandisment from the governing body and then calling it a ‘story.’
Spare me, too, from the practice so common in AFL reporting whereby it is deemed a ‘news story’ if a former player or coach – usually on the payroll of a television network – offers a comment about the game.
The footy journalists are to be pitied. They are governed by their limited bosses who cannot see past the football codes.
But we digress. This subline ignorance of golf in the mainstream media can and must be addressed.
In the first instance, the game’s professional and amateur governing bodies need to reset their goals. Coming together under the one umbrella at Sandringham, in beachside Melbourne, is a massive step in the right direction.
For a while, it has also appeared that Golf Australia had yielded in the battle to gain some mainstream media traction after many years of trying.
Instead, it decided to become a ‘news breaker’ in its own right, possibly losing sight of the body’s charter to grow the game of golf.
The game has to recalibrate under the guidance of the new boss, James Sutherland, a man who takes very seriously his new position as the game’s head honcho.
Sutherland is on record in this publication as recognising golf is in the midst of a participation explosion among all age groups and genders.
He knows he has been presented with a massive opportunity and is taking very seriously the weight of the responsibility resting on his shoulders.
Sutherland is aware of what it takes to grow a particular sport after 17-years at the top of cricket in this country.
Cricket was unrecognisable from when he first joined Cricket Australia to where it was when he departed.
It’s time for Sutherland to lead the charge. He has to reclaim the rightful, hard-won territory golf once held in the mainstream media.
All of us who love and play this great game demand it.