Ben Allan Smith
Before the PGA Tour returned June 14 from the forced break in the season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, live golf had already been played in front of a TV audience of millions a few weeks prior.
First, on May 17, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson faced off against fellow PGA Tour pros Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in TaylorMade Driving Relief. Then, the following week, in somewhat of a sequel to last year’s match between Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, the two faced off again.
But this time each had a famous playing partner. For Capital One’s The Match: Champions for Charity, Mickelson teamed up with Tom Brady and Woods played with Peyton Manning.
According to the same article on Deadline.com, Champions for Charity “delivered an average of 5.8 million viewers across TNT, TBS, truTV, and HLN on [May 24.] The network said it was the most-watched golf telecast in the history of cable television.”
The first match, according to Golf Channel, drew an average of 2.35 million viewers across all channels and streaming platforms, which is similar to an average final round Sunday on The Tour.
While the first match was geared toward the avid golf fan who tunes in every Sunday to see who that week’s champion will be, the second event was for the casual sports fan.
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By bringing in two well-known athletes who are not professional golfers, The Tour appealed to more than just golf fans.
Brady struggled on his first nine holes, which provided social media platforms with a good laugh. He hit a few “shanks” and took numerous penalty drops. On the golf course, perhaps the six-time Super Bowl Champion is not immune to a bad shot.
“It’s kinda crazy seeing that Tom Brady is human,” senior golfer Alex Schaake said. “He dominates on the football field, but I think it’s great. He obviously didn’t play very well on the front nine. I feel like there are some people out there that don’t want to go play golf because they won’t play very well.”
The second event, like the first, was very intimate for the viewer as all four players were mic’d up during their rounds and their audio was broadcast live.
The accessible audio created some great smack-talk moments including when Hall of Fame basketball player Charles Barkley, known for his atrocious golf swing, challenged Brady to a match after Brady hit a bad shot. Brady proceeded to hole his next attempt from roughly 100 yards away.
“You could see that [Brady] was enjoying it out there,” Schaake said. “He was talking a lot of smack with the guys and to Charles Barkley, even. That’s definitely good for the game and I think more so for the professional athletes now than the people who are watching professional sports.”