Feb 25

Downton Abbey and the PGA

PGA Similarities in Place to Downton Abbey

In a contradiction of old and worn out stereotypes, the women of the LPGA are beginning their season, as they did the last one, focused on competitive golf, without a lot of side entertainment. They’re not boohooing over literal or figurative hangnails, mental breakdowns, team captain crises, or where fan love is or isn’t going. Certainly, emotion underlies such a spirited environment on any tour, but the LPGA is, in most cases, channeling its efforts into its own health, and the individual players are intent on winning tournaments, not vying for a spot in the cast of Downton Abbey.

The men, however, those bastions of the stiff upper lip, testosteronic, warrior class, have put together a melodrama worthy of the popular British soap. They are, in many instances, behaving in precisely the way in which they have accused women throughout history. To some of us in the gallery, PGA antics look fragile, distracted, weak, and filled with mediocre over-acting. If they’re going to do that, they might as well take a lesson from Downton Abbey, and start doing it right.
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There are a lot of similarities in place for such a comparison to the Crawley family saga – to begin with, famous old institutions like Saint Andrews and Augusta. With the benefit of history, PGA golf has its complete set of lords, ladies, and commoners, the latter trying to gain entrance to the elite, and crowded into one green space where they can’t avoid each other. Perhaps we should pity the LPGA for lacking a story such as a crippled and Downtonesque Tiger Woods, part Lord Grantham, simply because he ruled without challenge for so many years, and part Mr. Barrows for his ruthless demeanor and intrigues that have finally caught up to him.

da I read an article this week despairing of Rory’s lack of love from American fans, and couldn’t help but think of Lady Edith. We revel in the tragedy of this talented young man, brilliant beyond compare, but too internally finicky to take the tour by the throat and win out week after week like Lord Tiger did. We suffer along, and like Downton, wait for the next week when things might be better. The wait seems interminable, but we do it. Rory seems seems to have been born under an unlucky star. He can’t become the next Lord Grantham until he straightens out his love life and sets his confidence on track. Meanwhile, Lydia Ko, who may watch Downtown Abbey, is acting more like Rambo, and a good crisis is hard to find in her life, outside of the occasional missed putt.

For all the noise that was made over Tom Watson’s inadequacies with the Ryder Cup team, real or imagined, much of it voiced by Phil Mickelson, one might liken the tiff to a staff breakdown in Downton’s lower floors, with a Mr. Carson, expertly played by Jack Nicklaus, looking on disapprovingly. Meanwhile, the somewhat younger Dowagers, perhaps played by the Lady Ochoa or Sorenstam, are out there doing constructive work for the game

It is the Solheim team that more closely resembles the efficient Downton staff when at its best. They compete ferociously, but understand that life is lived in the now, and seem to enjoy it, with a less strained camaraderie than in PGA dynamics. Like the aristocratic women, they are sometimes brilliant by speaking through omission, but by enlarge, they are a happier, more disciplined bunch.

With the loss of Woods, and the growing doubt over his return, the PGA lacks, for the moment, a true heir, and since PGA golf is not captivating us as it once did, the men appease us by playing out lesser unrefined melodramas until they can get their act together again, and another blue-blood arrives.

They are, for the moment, a tour of whiners, finger pointers and fainting hearts among the leading players. The LPGA only offers us weekly head-to-heads with Lydia, Jessica, Stacy, and the rest, with the dramas of holed out eagles, tense photo finishes on the 18th and interesting episodes to look forward to the next week. The Downton Abbey thing doesn’t work for them – they’re playing golf.
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