To be honest, the Bay Hill Invitational has become an almost sickening tournament to watch. The golf itself has been fine. The problem is the syrupy deification of Arnold Palmer that permeates the TV coverage. As he gets older, every year the Bay Hill turns more and more into a four day Arnie schmoozefest.
This is made all the worse by the fact that Palmer seems unable to conjure up even a modicum of false humility. The last couple of years he has started spending hours of broadcast time in the booth, allowing Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks to fawn over him like harem girls waving palm fronds over an obese sheik.
Of course, given his lengthy stint last weekend in the broadcast booth, his royal highness was inevitably asked to pontificate on the Tiger Woods scandal. He said the following on air:
"(He needs) to bring them (the press) in and talk to them, and talk to them like a man. That's the only way you're going to accomplish what he wants to accomplish right now. He needs to open the door, let them come in and talk to them like he knows them."
Arnie doesn't seem to realize there has been a big change in the relationship between celebrities and the press since his heyday in the early '60's. John F. Kennedy was a guy from his era who was renowned for his great relationship with the press. He had an "open door" to the handful of correspondents that tagged along with him. He talked to them "like men" and talked to them like "he knew them".
The result? All his press friends looked the other way while the Commander in Chief of the United States, a young guy with a wife and small children at home, committed repeated acts of adultery that might have made even Tiger Woods blush.
Boy, those sure were the good old days. We'll never know what kind of transgressions the young Arnie committed while being protected by his drinking buddies in the press.
Arnie.....dude.....you have no idea what Tiger's world is like. None of us do. He's been forced to put up barriers between himself and the outside world, otherwise he would get eaten alive by a horde of two bit hustlers trying to profit off an association with his name or image.
Given the predicament he has brought on himself because of his third leg's illicit rampage through a significant portion of America's womanhood, opening up to the press now would be even more suicidal.
This is my message to NBC golf television producers: Arnold Palmer is not Jesus Christ. He's just a another guy chasing a little white ball around an oversized lawn. He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like the rest of us. OK, in his time he got it in the hole in fewer strokes than most guys. Does that mean we need violins, tinkling pianos and teary salutes for four straight days every time the Bay Hill rolls around?