■ I got a text from a friend Saturday: “I think (Fox producer Mark) Loomis needs to remind his guys about talking over player-caddie conversations.”
Loomis has made this a point of emphasis, and Fox has been pretty good on the whole. But sometimes his announcers just can’t help themselves. On Saturday, Fox’s cameras stayed with Paul Goydos and his caddie for 70 seconds as they discussed an approach shot. For the first 25 seconds, the Fox crew handled it perfectly; they sat silently as the course microphone picked up Goydos’ conversation.
Then anchor Joe Buck identified Goydos’ caddie, and that opened the floodgates.
“Joe, it’s just a guessing game with this wind. It’s swirling,” said Shane Bacon, who was walking with Goydos’ group.
“That’s the 10th green behind the eighth green,” Paul Azinger said. “You see the flag moving there.”
Bacon: “Paul, this is a hole location you can’t get cute with. Front left. Everything short and everything left will fall off the green. You’ve got to play up there to the right.”
Buck told us Goydos’ regular caddie was out with a back injury. Then Bacon said: “Looks like they’ve decided on 8-iron.”
If the crew simply had remained quiet, Goydos and his caddie would have told viewers what they were thinking about yardage, wind conditions and club selection. There wouldn’t have been the need to speculate.
■ I often talk about the need for consistency – to do the little things that enhance the viewing experience. Here’s an example: The Fox announcers kept referencing the wind during the third round of the Senior Open. Curtis Strange estimated it was blowing “15 to 20.” Others suggested it was gusting stronger than that, and perhaps even affecting putts. It clearly was affecting play.
So what was missing? A simple wind gauge, which would have removed all the guesswork and helped viewers understand the playing conditions.
■ It’s hard to overstate the value of Fox’s liberal use of shot-tracking technology, particularly on approach shots, where the network has differentiated itself from the industry. The tracers, in combination with the oversized yardage signs, are a huge benefit to viewers.
Beyond that, though, it’s been important for the industry; I noticed during the French Open that European Tour Productions had adopted the big yardage markers. That’s another example of how competition forces everyone to adapt and improve.
■ Here’s something else interesting from the French Open: the use of Aimpoint, or similar technology, on putts. Regular readers know of my love of Golf Channel’s old Aimpoint putting line, which showed the putting line before the putt was struck. Golf Channel won it’s first Emmy for that game-changing graphic, but later dropped it. We haven’t seen it for years.
It’s not clear whether the technology used at the French Open was Aimpoint or a proprietary technology developed for European Tour Productions, but it sure was good to see. (Golf Channel and ETP did not respond to emailed requests for information Sunday.)
■ Fox’s Brad Faxon was a much better listen at the Senior Open than he was at the U.S. Open. Two weeks ago there was little nuance to Faxon’s work. The urgency in his delivery, on even the most mundane shots, was exhausting. Faxon was far too amped up early in the Open coverage, which left him nowhere to go when the tournament was being decided.
At the Senior Open, he was more measured. Faxon opened Friday’s coverage by noting that New England experienced heavy rains in May, leading to a double-digit decline in rounds played. Then he explained the significance to the Senior Open at Salem Country Club. “When you have a Donald Ross course like this . . . (he) made a lot of back-to-front sloping greens. If you have softer conditions, it’s really hard to get balls back to those back pins. And then, we saw a lot of problems with these false fronts.”
Faxon also shared a good anecdote about Bernhard Langer. Faxon noted that Langer recently played for the first time in the CVS Charity Classic, which Faxon co-hosts. Langer, Faxon said, sent caddie Terry Holt two days early to chart the course. It was a good insight into Langer’s meticulous nature.
■ Olin Browne introduced a new term into the golf lexicon: “degreened.” That was his description for hitting the ball over the green, then putting off the front of the green.