He was the unexpected star of the Players Championship TV coverage last year, but the trophy-topping turned celebrity graphic Gold Man may have taken his last graphically designed swing on our screens, with reports he’s been dropped for this year.
We’ll find out soon enough if the most sparkling swinger at TPC Sawgrass will be seen again, but reports on social media claim that NBC will not be using Gold Man’s services in their coverage of the PGA Tour’s showpiece event.
The solid gold golfer that usually adorns the top of the Players Championship trophy was brought to life by NBC last year and was a polarizing figure among golf fans – but whether you loved him or hated him you simply could not ignore him.
Fans flocked to social media to either sing his praises, make some smart jokes about him winning the tournament, or just simply complain about how annoying it was seeing an animated statue plastered all over their TV screens.
Some serious (and heartbreaking) golf TV news: A network source has confirmed to me that Gold Man is dead.After a controversial introduction in 2022, he will not be utilized during NBC's coverage of this week's Players Championship pic.twitter.com/NqG5Ob2RuQMarch 8, 2023
PGA Tour pro Dylan Frittelli wasn’t a fan, posting: "Why are we spending money on this? Someone needs to answer to this terrible decision.”
Maybe, due to budget cuts at the PGA Tour to pay for the huge increase in prize money, Gold Man has been melted down, maybe TV bosses had too many complaints, or maybe even he’s quit to go and join LIV Golf?
Whatever the reason, it looks like he won’t be lighting up our TV screens (or just really annoying us on them, depending on your point of view) for this year’s Players Championship – but we’ll always remember that golden spring of 2022.
"He became his own person this week," Andrew Isaacson, the executive vice president of Gold Man creators The Famous Group told the Golf Channel after last year’s event.
How ‘bout that, huh? 🐅 pic.twitter.com/IVhDPqm0DXMarch 13, 2022
"He came to life, born of the physical Players Championship trophy, meant to be an amalgamation of all past champions, but over the course of this week he developed a personality of his own."
Gold Man had his own golf cart at TPC Sawgrass and we saw him recreating some of the great shots and putts from Players history including those from Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler – he was even seen with a giant gold squeegee on the 17th green when the inclement weather hit.
Even Tiger approved having seen the video: "That was the proof of concept for us," said Adam Berger, mixed reality producer at The Famous Group. “Tiger approves, and that's as good as it gets in the golf world."
Gold Man was a surprise and a success in terms of gaining attention, not everyone liked him but he certainly did the trick of grabbing the headlines – and if he isn’t there this year, maybe he’ll be back bigger and better than ever next year.
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Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website. Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.
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