Sport on TV: You can't see the Woodzzz for the Teletubbies

I DON'T think the people watching on television can really understand what it's like out there," Greg Norman said after hacking and scrambling his way around Carnoustie on Thursday. Oh yes we can, possum. Norman, Sergio Garcia and the rest of them had their problems with the wind and the waist-high rough, but at least they get paid for it. Not so those of us sat on sofas for hours on end, as the verbal undergrowth from certain members of the BBC's commentary team grew tall enough to tickle the chin.

Nor was it just the adults who had it tough. There was a difficult moment for Britain's toddlers too last week, as they tried to adjust to the unexpected appearance of a fifth Teletubby. There they were, thousands of them, having just waved goodbye to Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po when suddenly, a round, colourful figure came plodding back over the top of the hill. Eh-oh, it's Monty, and he's eaten all the Tubby custard. Many of those young minds were probably scarred for life.

Some of the puzzles for grown-ups were just as bewildering. Why does Steve Rider, whose diction is otherwise impeccable, insist on referring to Britain's leading player as Colin Muntgummery?

Then there's Howard Clark, who seems to be doing an impression of John Virgo on valium. Is it for a bet? And will he make it all the way to the final green this evening without, like Alice's dormouse, falling asleep in mid-sentence? If he starts referring to Tiger Woodzzzzzzz, you'll know he's succumbed.

Above all, there is the on-going mystery of why so many golf commentators feel the need to remind us what it is we've been watching for the past six hours. You never hear John Motson remark that David Beckham has just played "an inch-perfect football pass", or Bill McLaren referring to a "crunching rugby tackle". Yet when someone puts a five-iron to eight feet, it is almost inevitable that someone will describe it as "a great golf shot".

Or, in the case of Jerry Pate, a great gaalf shot. Jerry has the worst habit of all, spraying gaalfs all over the place in much the same way that Sergio Garcia did his tee-shots on the opening day. "Now this man," he'll say, "has a great gaalf swing". This seems to imply that the swing in question would be useless for, say, killing rattlesnakes. So far, though, Jerry has kept that to himself.

If you looked very hard, of course, there was some fairway there somewhere, usually whenever Peter Alliss reached for the microphone. As one great player after another vanished into the heavy rough like Stanley setting off in search of Livingstone, his range of sighs, chuckles, groans, ho- hums and a-has was stretched to its sublime limit.

So too were his powers of description. "Here's Jesper Parnevik," Alliss said on Friday, as the Nutter with the Putter strode on to a green with a cotton wool bud in each nostril. "He seems to have two cloves of garlic up his nose today, just to clear his head." What a pro.

There were two schools of thought about Carnoustie's severity, with some observers feeling that it was the ultimate test of a golfer, and others siding with the players, and their complaints that it was unfair. Anyone who watched Under The Sun: Home Running (BBC2) the previous evening, though, would have had little time for the whining of golf's multi-millionaires.

This film should be a point of reference when any professional sportsman complains about anything at all, from the amount of football they have to play, to the state of the pitch at Edgbaston. For that matter, we should all carry a little of it in our hearts, as a reminder that most of life's troubles are really nothing of the sort.

Its subject was four young men from the Dominican Republic, whose only chance of rising from grinding poverty and a life packing bananas is to play baseball well enough to make it to the Major League. "In America," one of them said, "you can earn $116,000 a month. Here, you make $120 a month, and that's not enough to feed even one person."

Nicandro, at 13 the youngest of the four, started the film sitting out practice. He could not play, because his trainers had fallen apart. He was saving for a new pair by shining shoes on the street and, every Friday, working at the local cock fight. Nicandro was employed to finish off and then gut the losers, at 75 cents a time. On a good night, he earns $3.75.

Meanwhile, two brothers from Nicandro's team were trying out for the LA Dodgers' Academy. Both failed. The fourth hopeful, though, got a three- year apprenticeship at $850 a month, plus a signing-on fee of $15,000. Even if he gets no further his life, and that of his family, will be changed forever.

Nicandro eventually got his new shoes, thanks to a generous neighbour. At the end of the film we were told that his coach considers him one of the most promising 13-year-olds he has ever seen. If a pitcher called Nicandro emerges in the Majors in 10 years time, I for one will remember him. In truth, though, it is far more likely that one day I will, without knowing it, eat one of his bananas.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea