Capitalizing on Emphasis

By: Jeff Shelley


One of my favorite indie groups of the 1970s and '80s was called The The, which is, essentially, a one-man-band comprised of Matt Johnson. A talented sort, the Londoner plays most of the instruments on his albums. Besides the music, which is an acquired taste for sure, Johnson used the English language's most frequently used article for his band's oddly redundant-sounding name.

There's something refreshingly minimal about the name of Johnson's "band." It is not too far removed from groups such as Love, Man and The Who, each of which lent considerable musical ingenuity to the eras in which they created and performed.

Unfortunately, these days I'm seeing the word "the" all too often capitalized by golf courses and other golf-related entities. Golf courses old and new are paying big money to PR firms in the search for a new identity. Apparently, the de rigeur bang for the buck is the concept that their names be preceded by The, with a big fat capital "T."

The Forest Hills, The Riverview Muni, The Oaks at Forest Hills, The Elms at Riverview, or The Elmview at Riverwood's Forest Hills (all of which are fictional, of course).

Not only that, but these same PR firms - or their much cheaper in-house brethren - are making prime use of "The" in the newly updated and revamped names of golf-architecture firms and other golf-related businesses. (This overwrought stylistic tag is probably also spreading like a nasty virus into other areas of commerce.)

It's like, instead of just believing that a languishing brand will resuscitate itself by being identified through good, solid work, it needs to be given a little flair to get over the business hump. And, by golly, adding THE before a company name might do the trick!

To me, it sounds like these PR people have been watching too much NFL lately, especially the self-introductions on the big national broadcasts where the players recite the colleges they attended (with, I might add, no reference to their graduation rates). You know what I'm talking about:

"Joe Blow, THE Ohio State Buckeyes."

Or, "Fred Betz, THE U." We all know that reference (the University of Miami).

Or, "Patrick Maweeny, THE Pigeon Roost High School Dropkickers."

It seems as if, to fill the absence of creativity (let alone plain-speaking English and pride in one's school), the players must jive us TV viewers into believing they're all in on the same subversive gag that has become a trite ritual which tells us little of their backgrounds and where they went to college.

Now, disturbingly, golf is getting into this increasingly annoying act. In its recent press releases the PGA of America began calling itself The PGA of America. So, instead of reading it as simply the PGA of America, we're supposed to be saying to ourselves, THE (!) PGA of America. The association that represents club pros even extends this bit of nonsense to one of its premier events, The (THE!) Ryder Cup. The same usage has also been extended to The (THE!) Presidents Cup.

Another entity using the trite trick is the European Tour, or more accurately, THE (!) European Tour. Guess those on the other side of the pond are really into the NFL as well. And the Golf Channel takes the same tack as The (THE!) Golf Channel.

Even worse is the PGA Tour, which insists on citing its name as the PGA TOUR (all caps). Check out its website. Instead of pgatour.com, it's www.PGATOUR.com. The world's premier competitive golf entity has spent thousands of dollars re-branding itself so whenever viewers see that spelling, they're apparently supposed to say to themselves (or, better yet, aloud): The PGA TOOOUUUURRRR!

(Note that the insertion of a different letter at the start of the word "tour" will create an altogether different sound, taking that slight revision far from an exact homonym. For example, "dour" would come out entirely differently, but it might come out sounding more emphatic if it were all capitalized. For example: "That crabby guy is so DOUR!" Here's another: "FOUR, I swear you got a FIVE on that hole!" Or, "POUR me another bartender, and I mean right now!")

Similarly, the minor-league women's tour calls itself the Duramed FUTURES Tour. Not the Duramed Futures Tour, but the Duramed FUTURES (!) Tour.

For crying out loud, calm down. Isn't this a genteel sport played by demure young ladies?

The PGA Tour is so fussy about its proper spelling that it devotes a word-checker on all stories written by staff during tournaments and, presumably, a couple more such fussy personnel at its offices in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. While attending last year's U.S. Open at Torrey Pines (thankfully, not THE Torrey Pines), I was directed to a person by one of the PGATOUR.com writers - who shall go unnamed - that: "She's the one who makes sure Tour is capitalized. She checks every article I write before it gets posted."

Perhaps the PGA Tour's affiliated Champions and Nationwide tours should follow suit. That way, there'd be two more jobs opening up in this BAD economy.

(On a side note, Cybergolf, along with other reputable news sources, refuses to go along with this program; we all lower-case -except the first letter, as in "Tour.")

Adding to this silly season of capitalization is the SKINS GAME, a version of which is played on both the regular PGA and Champions Tours. You can tell by how these all-capped hit-and-giggle events are presented that they're screaming to be taken seriously.

I've also noted that the newly retired Annika Sorenstam hired the same geniuses who, not to be denied their singular brilliance, wracked their brains and capitalized on this momentous branding idea. The Swede's charitable organization is called the ANNIKA (ANNIKA!) Foundation, her teaching facility in Florida is the ANNIKA (!) Academy, and her annual tournament is the ANNIKA (!) Cup. Her new fragrance is even called ANNIKA (!) and is quite suitable, apparently, for people with overt body-odor issues.

Isn't this all kind of loud and ostentatious for such a naturally shy and thoughtful Swede? Maybe that's why she's stepping out of the bright glare of the main stage to devote more time to her family and career.

All this sudden need for a heightened identity seems downright silly. I don't know, maybe the golf world needs to scream a bit these days to get noticed among other sports.

Frankly, I just wish golf would follow the simple instruction on the signboards carried at thousands of tournaments over the years and just be QUIET!


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