Rebooting Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf
Last week, Golf Channel gave golf fans a great Christmas present if they turned on their televisions: a marathon of Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf, featuring broadcasts from both the original run in the 1960’s and 70’s and the most recent reboot from the 90’s and early 2000’s. In case you’re unaware, Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf was a made for TV event featuring players going head to head with interviews throughout the round and it provided some local knowledge as well, frequently talking about any tourist attractions in the area or anything else that would be of interest to the viewer throughout the hour. For an idea of what it looked like, take a look at a tiny portion here from 1968 where Sam Snead took on Roberto DeVicenzo at Congressional.
While I was sitting down and watching it periodically throughout the day, it made me realize that this is something we could really bring back and have some fun with given the current crop of players in the game today. Much like the One Club Challenge, it would be a lot of fun to do this with mic’d up players and it would be a nice diversion from what we see now on the PGA or European Tour. The wraparound schedule really makes this impossible at the moment, but I figured we’d have a little fun and dream up the ten best possible combinations, in no particular order, for players and courses if we were to reboot the series in 2016. Here are the guidelines for each event:
- I’m considering this as the “first season” of the reboot, so I’m only using each player and course once.
- Golf Channel/NBC would probably have to be the home of the reboot just based on logistics with broadcasting, so their team will be handling the play by play and colour commentary. My suggestion would be to have David Feherty and Frank Nobilo on every broadcast in some capacity.
- Typically, if there was an international course used in the original series, one of the players was from that country so we’re going to try and follow that, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.
- There would be plenty of Pro Tracer.
Adam Scott vs. Justin Rose at Royal Melbourne
Royal Melbourne is probably my favourite course in the world to watch on TV, and there’s really no better idea than having two of the best ball strikers in the world take to the course and have some fun. My only concern about this pairing is that from an entertainment standpoint, they can both be kinda bland, but the quality of play and Royal Melbourne should wash away that concern pretty easily.
Sergio Garcia vs. Miguel Angel Jimenez at Valderrama
Whenever you can put Miguel and Sergio on TV, you’re going to be entertained and taking them both to their home country and the most famous course in the area is a no brainer. Sure, Miguel’s English isn’t the best but he would more than make up for it in other areas, plus you’d be able to throw in tons of Seve related material, which is always a positive.
Rory McIlroy vs. Henrik Stenson at Royal County Down
I was beyond excited when it was announced that Royal County Down was getting the Irish Open earlier this year, but it really felt like we were deprived of something even better when Rory ended up firing an 80 in the opening round and missing the cut. Taking him back to one of the best courses in the world and matching him up with Stenson, who is not only one of the best players in the world but also one of its most entertaining, is a perfect match.
Bubba Watson vs. Phil Mickelson at Augusta National
I’m 99.9% sure that Augusta National would never allow this sort of thing, but hey, we’re in a dream world here anyway, so we might as well go for it. It’s pretty obvious that right now, the two players who seem to thrive the most at Augusta are Bubba and Phil, so putting them out there makes a ton of sense from a talent standpoint, not to mention that the two of them being mic’d up would be fun as well. I’d also demand that both Phil and Bubba attempt the same shot as the one above because a) who wouldn’t want to see that? and b) I’d love to hear a longer explanation from both Phil and Bones, which I think would go something like this:
- Phil: “Well, I had a line and the lie was pretty good.”
- Bones: “I thought you were crazy and still do. You weren’t up by much and if you put it in the water, you bring a lot of guys back into the tournament.”
- Phil: “I thought about telling you to pull the flag. Honest.”
Rickie Fowler vs. Hideki Matsuyama at Cabot Cliffs
Cabot Cliffs has been called the ‘Pebble Beach of Canada’ and from watching the above video, it’s pretty easy to see why. Selfishly, I’d just love to see more of the course and it probably wouldn’t even matter who you put out there to play eighteen, but Fowler vs. Matsuyama is something I’d watch regardless of where they’d tee it up, so this seems like a good fit.
Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie vs. Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson at Pebble Beach
We see Pebble Beach all the time, and while the Pro-Am is something that is basically a travesty at this point that needs fixing, it has nothing to do with the course itself which you can argue is the most photogenic piece of property in the world. Having four LPGA Tour players take to it would be an interesting twist as well, as you never get to see them on the same courses as the PGA Tour and there’s no better group of four to put out there than Ko, Wie, Park and Thompson.
Jordan Spieth vs. Justin Thomas at Cypress Point
One of the biggest tragedies in golf from a television standpoint is that the Pebble Beach Pro-Am hasn’t been at Cypress Point since 1991, so people never get to see what many believe is the best course in the world. Why Spieth and Thomas together? Well, you probably haven’t heard this before, but Thomas (#JSGB) is actually really good friends with Spieth and he loves to get under his skin. Having the two of them needling each other at Cypress would be must watch TV, not to mention that they’d have a great match.
Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter vs. Luke Donald and Graeme McDowell at North Berwick (West)
Admittedly, this sounds like an odd pairing of players and course, but hear me out. These four guys have known each other forever and they all have good sense of humour, which is something they’ll need at North Berwick, a course that requires creativity and shotmaking that you frankly just don’t see very often anymore. The course has been around since the 1830’s and just isn’t shown on TV enough anymore because technology has made it kinda obsolete, but in a setting like this, it’s the absolute perfect venue to bring it to a new audience of fans.
Jason Day vs. Patrick Reed at Shinnecock Hills
The last time we saw Shinnecock Hills was back in 2004 when Retief Goosen took the U.S. Open, and I’m already looking forward to the USGA going back there in 2018. There’s so much variety at the course that it’s impossible to get bored while watching, and having two of the best ball strikers in the world going head to head for 18 holes would be a dream. Patrick Reed mic’d up? Jason Day hitting moon balls into the Long Island atmosphere? Sign me up.
Tiger Woods vs. Geoff Ogilvy at the Old Course (backwards)
Ahead of the Open Championship earlier this year, Tiger mentioned that one thing he would love to do is to play the Old Course backwards, which sounds crazy until you realize that it’s totally something that you can do and have a ton of fun with. Why Geoff Ogilvy on the other side? No one in the game speaks more eloquently than him and with his golf course design business, I’d be fascinated to hear his thoughts alongside Tiger’s as they play it backwards. From a television standpoint, you can do so many things with this as well with comparison shots of the routing and there’s no better person in the game to walk you through it than Tiger. I’m actually upset that this hasn’t happened already in some fashion.