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Tee Box with a View: ‘Fore left!’ or ‘Fish on!’ – is TV and pro infighting causing us to choose?

by Peter Fibiger

For an endeavor to be classified as a sport, you’d assume that it would involve a certain amount of physical challenge.

It’s been said that the second favorite sport of golfers is fishing, and that the reverse is also true. But let’s qualify that statement by adding that for either pastime to be considered a sport, the golfer should be walking the course, and the angler should be waist-deep and casting lures into a river or a sea.

Peter Fibiger served as PNGA president from 2018-2021. “My frustration of watching golf on TV does not diminish my enjoyment of the game. At least, not yet.”

I can already hear the howls of protest from cart-riders and troll-boaters alike; but I’d argue that there’s no more exertion required to exit a golf cart and swing a club than there is to sit in a boat for hours on end waiting for that rod-tip to start bouncing.

Admittedly, the angler will, on occasion, put in an anxious 10 to 30 minutes to wrestle his quarry to the net; and they may have to hike themselves up from a seat now and then to swap a lure or clear some weed from a line.

And sure, the golfer might have to wander around in the rough here and there in search of a golf ball.

But, really, how much of a consistent sweat do either of those jobs raise?

But I digress.

What both golf and fishing share is something unique in sport: the challenge to an individual to accomplish a goal on their own, without the need of competition. Tennis may be a (largely) one-player sport, as may be bowling, but in both cases you need an opponent. With golf, the course can be, and in my case almost always is, the opponent. And of course with fishing, you’re up against, well, a fish.

At the professional level, both golf and fishing share a certain amount of TV exposure, although there’s no doubt that pro golf occupies a far wider swath of air time than does its angling counterpart.

As we’re all well aware, golf these days at its highest level is beset with controversy, infighting, and a wealth of varying opinions on money versus morality. This small commentary is not the place to add fuel to that fire, but I will say that all of the noise surrounding the various tours is dimming my interest in watching the grand old game on television.

Truth be told, for me it started with that most detestable of all aspects of televised sport, the “Playing Through” split-screen advertising craze. To be hammered with no less than three promotions on one screen with an insignificant bit of “real estate,” as the Madmen call it, crammed onto the screen in the guise of continuous coverage, is nothing less than an insult to those many of us who understand that all they’re trying to do is keep us from running to either the fridge or the medicine cabinet in search of something to dull the senses of those of us who are writhing in this trap. Rather, I now purposely mute the sound while this travesty plays out, and I fear that this may be just the first step in turning completely away from televised golf.

As I mull all this, I realize that the pro game has literally nothing to do with the enjoyment I take from the game I play. If I never watched another televised golf tournament, my enthusiasm for the game would remain undiminished. And I’ll happily make an exception for amateur golf, college and otherwise.

So what, then, to do with all that new-found time that’s until now been frittered away on Golf Channel? The options are endless, but maybe it’s just time I learned to tie a fly.

Peter Fibiger served on the PNGA Board of Directors for 18 years, including 12 years on the Executive Committee and more than a decade as the PNGA Communications Committee Chairman. He also served as PNGA President from 2018-2021. He lives in Victoria, B.C., and will tell a few tales over a Guinness. Click here to read the full article on Peter’s impact on the PNGA and the golf community.