Last Sunday afternoon, four Dads in their mid to late 40s are looking to get out of the house, away from their kids and play a relaxing round of golf at the local muni course. The Michelob Ultra beverage cart is loaded up, and they undoubtedly have some terrible jokes lined up to attempt to flirt with the cart girl, who will laugh at their jokes because she gets paid by tips. Really, it’s just like when we go play golf.
This foursome, however, includes 20 major championships, 8 Super Bowl rings and is being televised for the world to watch. So, maybe not exactly like our usual foursome.
Last time we saw “The Match,” Tiger and Phil were playing each other for $9 million on a golf course in Vegas. It was on pay-per-view at a time when there was plenty of other sports to watch, and it just felt a bit too much like a cash grab for two guys who rank 1 & 2 on the all-time golf money earners list.
This time, we added a couple amateurs, put in on regular television for anyone to watch and raised a bunch of money to support people in actual need. So, from the start, we’ve drastically improved the product and no one has hit a golf ball yet.
Friend of Hangover JJ sends a text prior to the start asking how good at golf are Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Great question. Without going too technical, they both have single digit handicap indexes, which is one way to measure golfers against each other. The other is height.
Regardless, a quick google search will tell you that the average handicap in 15, so both are significantly above average, which you would expect from two of the greatest players in the history of the NFL. Essentially, a player with a single digit handicap likely shoots in the high 70s any time they tee it up. Of course, there are ways to manipulate your handicap by being a little cavalier with the rules of golf. But, fortunately, none of the competitors in this match have any history whatsoever of being a little morally ambiguous when it comes to the rules of their sport.
We also were treated to some stars in the broadcast booth, namely Charles Barkley and Justin Thomas, who served as an on-course reporter.
We’ve never tried this before, but stealing from a Mel Kiper Jr post-NFL draft column, let’s hand out some grades to everyone involved with The Match:
Tiger Woods: C
He’s the most impactful golfer of all time, he’s the most popular golfer of all time and there is little in sports more impressive than Tiger was during his peak. All that said, we’re pretty sure he’s kind of a geek. He spent his entire youth and most of his adult life focusing on an individual sport with a level of intensity that we can hardly even fathom, and it worked to become the golfer he became. But, that doesn’t leave much time for socializing.
So, between the goofy chin-strap beard, the cargo shorts and the awkward, “pards” calls to Peyton, he really didn’t add a whole lot to the broadcast. He played by far the best, most consistent golf of anyone. But, if we’re being honest, the golf was secondary to the entertainment value, and he didn’t do much for entertainment value. But, we look forward to all the analysis of how great he hit the ball and why that means he will win at least 5 majors this year.
Phil Mickelson: A-
If we’re talking about entertainment, Phil is the guy you want involved. He’s absolutely ridiculous in a way that is endearing but also makes you roll your eyes. For one, he never shuts up. At one point, Tiger mentioned this is what he deals with every time he plays with Phil. Which is probably why he hated playing with Phil for most of his career.
But, in this situation, he’s perfect. He kept things interesting on the course, he coached Brady through a rough round to make it competitive, he gave fans watching on TV chipping lessons and on the back nine played some pretty incredible golf. The short par 4 11th was classic Mickelson. We tried to type this out, but it’s a lot easier to just click on this link and watch the video. It’s just an outstanding combination of great golf trash talk, mixed in with some Dad jokes from a 50 year old who’s pretending he is 25. Good stuff all around.
Peyton Manning: A
From a golf perspective, Manning is the MVP. Other than his drive on the first hole – what would you know about pressure?! – he played really solid golf. In a match like this, the amateur makes all the difference and he clearly outplayed Brady. Key difference, Brady is trying to get ready for a football season and Peyton is playing golf at any of the dozens of clubs at which he is a member. A personal highlight was watching him search for his golf cart after making a birdie on the 6th hole. Most relatable segment of the day from Peyton. If we had just holed a 20 footer with Tiger Woods as our teammate, we would have walked off the course and never touched another golf club the rest of our life, because there’s no way we’d have a better moment in golf.
Aside from the golf, he provided some great commentary. From saying he couldn’t wear red and black so Kirby Smart couldn’t put it on Twitter to making a Bull Durham and Top Gun reference on the same hole, he added a lot to the broadcast.
To top it all off, he proved why he’s the best spokesman in sports with the litany of hats, shirts, jackets, logos on his golf cart, bags in his cart and even his belt. Hello, Honors Course. All around a top notch effort.
Tom Brady: B
This grade was tough because he played terrible…in the words of Mrs. Hangover…”Tom Brady sucks.” But, also had the best shot of the day when he holed out from the fairway on 7 . He didn’t provide much interesting commentary, but delivered one of the best one-liners of the day – Suck on that Chuck.
Ultimately, we’ll be generous because, like we stated above, he’s still an active quarterback in the NFL, starting with a new team so he’s probably a little busy with that and not exactly working on his golf swing. Not to mention, he’s playing a ridiculously difficult golf course in even more difficult conditions. Plus, he split his pants midway through the round. Just a tough day all around.
But, there’s entertainment value in seeing someone one of the greatest athletes of all-time struggle in an athletic pursuit. We were also impressed with how he realized he was struggling, leaned on Mickelson for help and came through with some clutch shots. For someone as competitive as Brady, we can only imagine he was seething for most of the round. And unlike football, you can’t just slam your helmet on the bench or scream at a receiver who ran the wrong route or illegally alter the equipment to give yourself an advantage. Instead, he just had to battle through it and hope that Mickelson could carry him to victory. It almost worked. Maybe next time he should have filmed the opposing team ahead of time.
Charles Barkley: A+
Barkley’s commentary was the highlight of the event for us. A few of our favorite moments:
Mickelson hits a shot out of a fairway bunker and yells, “Be the one.” The shot lands short and right of the green…not exactly close. Barkley’s response: “Be the one? What the hell you looking at?”
Barkley and Justin Thomas (more on him in a second) had some great exchanges:
JT: “I’d like to to see your fat ass try to dunk right now, Chuck.”
Barkley: “JT, you can’t call me fat on TV. That’s bullying. I’m gonna call HR on you.”
And yes, we realize it’s funnier to watch than to read me type it, here he’s a link to the video.
Between Chuck, JT, and Peyton there was plenty of SEC banter, including Barkley’s line to JT, “We’re so proud of all you Alabama people who got your GEDs.”
Didn’t realize Auburn was such an academic powerhouse….
Justin Thomas: A
JT was a bit of a revelation during this, and has started to set himself up well for an announcing career when his playing days are over…which should be in about 30 years. Playing the long game. Impressive.
We really enjoyed his commentary, from giving people a perspective on how difficult certain shots are, to being able to joke around with the players and Barkley. It was honestly the most likable we’ve ever seen JT, who always came across to a bit overly arrogant to make up for the fact that he’s so scrawny. You know the kid who was always the first to run his mouth and then go hide behind someone bigger than him? That’s kind of what we always imagined JT was like, but listening to him during this definitely improved our impression of him.
Medalist – Incomplete
It was a little difficult to really get a feel for the course since it was pouring down rain. But, in some ways that helped to level the playing field, as it is Tiger’s home course. But, as he mentioned, he doesn’t play it very often in those conditions. Nevertheless, was a fun glimpse into the course that is home to so many Tour pros. That said, we’re fairly confident many of our readers are members there so if they’d like to have us there to give a proper review, we’re confident we can elevate the stature of the course.
As you can tell from these grades, we really enjoyed this. It could have been the fact there isn’t anything else to watch, but the production and commentary really made it. Hopefully, some of these elements will get worked into actual golf broadcasts in the future. Whether it is adding someone who can provide some actual comic relief or having more access to player conversations. Maybe you mic up a caddy or two? Or maybe we just don’t wait until the next global pandemic to have more of these events? After all, most of what made this interesting was the amateurs. The more we can watch the greatest athletes in the world struggle at something athletic, the better we all feel about ourselves.