For years, golf has struggled with its image as a fuddy-duddy sport for the elite that is, above all things, very, very slow. But now, the US Golf Association, the most serious-minded group in an often humourless golf community, has decided to embrace the game’s most comic and caustic critic, the
very one whose satire helped create the stereotypes that once made the golf establishment bristle.
In an attempt to shake golf out of its slow-playing doldrums, those who help run golf will unveil a new campaign Wednesday celebrating “Caddyshack”, the raucous 1980 movie headlined by working-class comedian Rodney Dangerfield that lampooned golf's stuffy country club reputation.
More than 4 million golfers have given up golf in recent years, and the primary culprit, research-ers say, is the tedious pace of play. Desperate for a solution, golf's leaders, on the eve of this week’s national championship, have turned to “Caddyshack”, resurrecting one of Dangerfield’s zingers in the film and making it the linchpin for a campaign aimed at rescuing the game.
The centerpiece of the videos and the faster-play movement is the line Dangerfield’s movie character shouts as he watches his antagonist, Judge Smails, fidget, twitch and delay as he prepares to hit a tee shot. “Let’s go,” Dange-rfield says. “While we're young.”
The USGA initiative includes five comedic 30-second videos st-arring Tiger Woods, Clint Eastw-ood, Arnold Palmer, Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer. Woods is seen painstakingly pausing over a putt as he might at this week’s US Open. A wider camera angle reveals he is instead at a miniature golf course where children waiting behind him yell: “Hey, while we’re young.”
Palmer says the same thing as Eastwood overthinks a shot standing along the ocean, drawing one of Eastwood's best Dirty Harry-like stares. Sorenstam and Creamer are seen labouring over how to best deliver Dangerfield's renowned line, an impersonation that includes tugging on an imaginary tie, Dangerfield style.
”People start playing golf because they think it will be fun,” said Rand Jerris, a USGA managing director. “It's discouraging if people are leaving because it isn't. So we have to intentionally restore an element of fun.”
But the long-term consequences for the golf industry are serious. According to a poll, more than 70 percent of golfers believe pace of play has worsened lately and half have admitted to walking off the course in frustration during a marathon round.
New York Times