Throughout much of a sleepy early-season weekend – as Patrick Reed coasted in the American desert, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson came up short in the Arabian desert – I was lamenting the fact that there wasn’t more drama to add life to this space. Then I flipped over to the NFC Championship game Sunday night and caught the execrable post-game histrionics of the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman – the classless taunting of opponents, the graceless I’m-the-greatest rant.
Upon further review, I decided that coverage from Palm Springs and Abu Dhabi looked pretty good by comparison. Despite golf’s individualistic nature, it’s not a game for shameless self promoters, and TV’s efforts to create golf personalities tend to fall flat. At Kapalua, NBC tried NFL-style player introductions, which quickly became redundant.
At Abu Dhabi, each player, when introduced, turned toward the camera and folded his arms. Someone in marketing might want to tell the production guys that if they want to accentuate players’ personalities, then don’t portray them as robots. Abu Dhabi had great story lines, if not great theater. Announcer Julian Tutt wondered Sunday if “locals realized we were teeing off a little bit early,” so sparse was the crowd.
European Tour Productions’ work was similarly sluggish. Anchor Dougie Donnelly began each telecast by talking about the unusually thick rough, but none of his colleagues bothered to illustrate the problems it created. Mickelson’s left forefinger was taped because of “an incident,” but don’t ask what that incident was. And how can you not give Mickelson’s approach yardage on 18 when he needed eagle?
Things were slightly better in Palm Springs, where there was excellent use of video to illustrate a quirk in Reed’s swing. Speaking of video, Golf Channel’s Jerry Foltz found himself in the middle of a ruling when official Steve Rintoul asked him what cameras showed on James Driscoll’s approach to No. 10. Foltz relayed word from Nick Faldo in the 18th tower. Finally, some drama.