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Fri, April 10, 2015

Masters Ramblings: Observations after two days of golf's greatest event

I’m not sure there’s anything inherently controversial in what I’m about to say. In reality, it’s merely an amalgam of observations in the spirit of golf’s greatest tournament. As the best golfers in the world prepare to enter the weekend at August National, I’m reminded of the PGA’s old marketing tag, “these guys are good.” How do I know this slogan to be true? I’ve spent the better part of my life in and around sports (i.e. playing them, working in them and covering them for media) and no sport has ever caused me as much pain and distress as golf – not even close. I’ve always considered myself at least mildly athletic – relatively speaking, of course – but with golf, it’s at times as if I have zero coordination to speak of. Oh sure, there are days where I’m feeling great about my game – multiple pars with a birdie here or there – only to follow it up a day later with multiple trips to the sand and seemingly endless supply of water hazards. And I’d rather not mention the number of times I “chunk” a shot. There’s just no ‘mastering’ this game. Yet, somehow, the men on tour come as close as humanly possible. And that’s what makes this tournament known as The Masters so much fun to watch. It’s an appreciation for the difficulty of the game – and the players’ ability to overcome its most difficult circumstances.

The story of the tournament to this point is Jordan Spieth, a 21-year-old that makes us all feel just the least bit embarrassed to discuss what we were doing at such a young age. I assure you I would have been more than thrilled to contend in an online tournament of Golden Tee (if you’re confused, look it up). Yet, there is Spieth, making it look easy versus men twice his age, many of whom he undoubtedly grew up watching on TV. It’s stories like this that bring me back every year. Two years ago it was Adam Scott – avenging the heartbreak of a collapse at the 2012 British Open by winning his first green jacket. The list goes on. With so many great stories each year, I’m left scratching my head when talking about golf’s declining television ratings. Sure, it’s easy to point to the decline of Tiger Woods and suggest that alone is responsible. But I’m not convinced it doesn’t run deeper. Woods decline began several years ago now and even when he is playing decent golf (which is rare these days by his standards) the interest just doesn’t seem to be there. With so many young superstars and the game being played by more people than ever before, it would seem logical that more that people watch the game on TV. Perhaps golf, like baseball, has been victimized by the social preference for a faster pace. It’s easy to see where a younger generation might consider golf, with its lack of contact and low-talking commentators, to be boring. I’m not here to offer a wealth of suggestions on how to fix it (sorry), and I’m not sure there is an easy way to do so. A talent the likes of Tiger Woods – with his ability to transcend race and gender – comes along once in a generation. So for now, golf must continue to market its young stars while tweaking where necessary. There’s no need to create drama like some cheap reality TV show -- it exists organically. And let us never forget just how good these guys really are.

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Marques Pfaff's Bio
As someone who grew up in Holmen, Wisconsin, I – like most people in this state – have spent a good portion of my life rooting for every team that calls the Badger State home. As a kid, I would make the weekly, fall pilgrimage from Holmen to Madison to take in Badger football games with my dad at Camp Randall Stadium. I was there when Jump Around debuted, I was there when Jamar Fletcher picked off Joey Harrington three times in a win over Oregon, and I was there when Ron Dayne broke college football’s all-time rushing record. They were some of the most exciting experiences of my youth and may likely contributed to my choosing UW-Madison for college. While there, I was given the opportunity to walk on to the football team. I didn’t stay long but I did have a chance to put the pads on and run out of the Camp Randall Stadium tunnel. It’s something I’ll never forget.

It was during my college days that a passion for radio would also develop. After spending three years working for WIBA and WTSO in Madison, I took my first full-time job with WSSP radio in Milwaukee. This was a tremendous experience as I had a chance to cover virtually every team I loved watching. That said – despite my love for all things radio – I was offered a great opportunity in Las Vegas to work in public relations for many of the major sporting events that came to town. I took it and would wind up spending the next six-and-a-half-year in the desert. Many of those years saw me working in college athletics at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV). It was a tremendous experience and one that will always lead to me referring to Las Vegas as my second home.

All of these experiences have contributed to my perspective on sports and I look forward to sharing that with you every day from 2 to 5 p.m.
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