Outspoken Victorian Geoff Ogilvy has backed the right of golf commentators to air their opinions and called on his fellow professionals to stop being so "precious."
Ogilvy says the media have the right to act as a watchdog for the game and it is important they be free to give their opinions and not just basic facts.
The former US Open champion’s comments came after Golf Channel reporter Brandel Chamblee accused world No.1 Tiger Woods of cheating during his five-win 2013 season.
Ogilvy wrote in Golf World that he did not agree with Chamblee’s assessment but nevertheless supported his right to a viewpoint.
"While I’m not sure exactly how many times I’ve been paired with Tiger Woods, it has been often enough to convince me of his basic integrity as a golfer," he wrote.
"Yes, Tiger is ultra-competitive. Yes, he can be accused of playing with "blinders" on during tournaments. But I have never – not once – seen him attempt to gain any unfair or dubious advantage. And that fact has me convinced there was neither ulterior motive nor inappropriate intent lurking beneath his involvement in various rules incidents this year.
"So I can’t say I agree with what Brandel Chamblee had to say about Tiger. Not completely anyway. His was a pretty strong point of view, one I would hesitate to replicate when talking about anyone, never mind the best player of this generation. I certainly don’t think Tiger is "cavalier" with the rules."
However Ogilvy said the backlash against Chamblee was also unfair.
"While he used language that was, in places, too hyperbolic for my taste, the principle of him being able to share with us his expert assessment is too important to be abused," he said.
"To my mind, Brandel is one of the best things on Golf Channel. And let’s be clear: He isn’t employed to give us facts; he is there to offer opinion. So he should be allowed to do so. That’s what frustrated me most about this entire affair: the idea that someone in the media should somehow not be able to call it the way he or she sees it. That doesn’t sit well with me."
According to Ogilvy many tour players are simply "too spoiled."
"Because we are pampered in so many areas of our lives, we perhaps have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the media. In general we’d be better off not being so precious about what appears in print and on-screen," he wrote.
"Our relationship with the media should be similar to what we have with our parents or closest friends: one where absolute frankness is best for all concerned. We all watch Golf Channel and read magazines like this one – or at least I do – in order to be more informed about what is going on in our little world. If that material is clouded by a need to give only a sanitised view, then the whole thing is failing in its intent.
"I like the notion that the press in all its forms exists to hold tour players accountable for their actions. Journalists and broadcasters should not be mere cheerleaders. There’s too much of that in golf right now, to be honest. And not nearly enough untainted honesty.
"If correspondents do nothing more than claim how great everything is, any semblance of reality is lost. Good things happen on tour every day – and bad things too – which is how it should all be reported. I have to believe that’s what most people want, an accurate representation of events and issues. Anything else is an insult to our collective intelligence."
However Ogivy also criticised Woods for continually giving boring, colourless interviews and said he needed to be more expressive.
"Much of what went on between Tiger and Brandel could have been avoided if Tiger would give open answers to questions – "real" interviews, not just "nothing" interviews.
By: Robert Grant