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
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?