TV blog: Strong commentary, audio mark coverage of Dunhill, Safeway

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship - Day One Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

TV blog: Strong commentary, audio mark coverage of Dunhill, Safeway

PGA Tour

TV blog: Strong commentary, audio mark coverage of Dunhill, Safeway

I watched a fair amount of baseball and golf over the past week, and heard commentators talking a lot about the same issue: slow play. It’s good to hear announcers addressing this issue directly rather than soft-pedaling it.

Consider the plight of poor Dale Hayes, who was the on-course reporter at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. It’s a pro-am, and Hayes knew he was looking at a long day. So it’s probably understandable that he started to wig out on the first hole Saturday morning at Kingsbarns when Tommy Fleetwood insisted on calling in an official to consult on his drop behind the green.

“It’s an incredibly simple ruling,” said a frustrated Hayes. “You take your nearest point (of relief) and drop it within one club length. He’s covered every inch of the (drop) area . … No wonder rounds take a while. This is incredible. … It’s an absolutely basic rule for professional golf, and it’s taken five minutes.”

Hayes didn’t stop there. Late Sunday at The Old Course, Paul Dunne was second to play in his threesome from the Road Hole fairway. Play was moving slowly, and the announcers were excited about the possibility of Ross Fisher shooting the European Tour’s first 59. (He finished with 61.)

After Luke Donald played his approach, microphones picked up Dunne discussing the shot with his caddie.

“He’s had 10 minutes to get ready, and they’re still discussing it,” Hayes said, exasperated.

“So true,” Sam Torrance said. “They’ve been there 10 minutes, literally, looking at this shot, and it’s their turn to hit and they’re not ready. It’s extraordinary.”

“They’re not even remotely close,” Hayes groused.

When microphones picked up Dunne’s caddie advising “the shot to get (the ball) close is a low draw,” Torrance scoffed.

“We might be a bit harsh on (Dunne) taking so much time,” Torrance growled in his deep bass. “He is the leader in Ryder Cup points, huge money this week, a birdie at the last would make a huge difference to him. But a low draw is not the shot here, trust me.”

Dunne’s approach stopped about 20 yards beyond the green to the left, though he did save par.

Meanwhile, Golf Channel opened the new season with some good on-course audio at the Safeway Open. Two examples jumped out at me during the second round, especially because they provided insight into club and shot changes.

On his approach to No. 8, Brendan Steele said, “I think it’s (a 52-degree wedge), but that breeze brings the spin into play. But I don’t think it’s going to spin too much. I can easily carry the number, or past the number.”

Steele’s caddie, Christian Donald, didn’t sound convinced, saying he thought it was going to spin back.

“The no-spin shot is just going to skip on, just keep going, right?” Steele asked.

Donald wanted Steele to play a little more club. “I think you can stop it right where it’s at,” he told Steele.

“Even with the pitching wedge? Even with less spin?” Steele asked.

Donald persisted and Steele switched to pitching wedge. “That’s a little safer,” Steele said, agreeing with Donald. “OK. . . I think this is probably the right play.” Steele ended up with a good look at birdie, though he didn’t make the putt.

Every tournament we see players standing in the fairway, talking with their caddies, tossing grass in the air, looking up at the trees. Is it crazy of me to think that perhaps viewers’ time would be better spent listening to what the players are saying as opposed to having announcers speculate about it?

Here’s another example: Chesson Hadley was chasing 59 on Friday. He had a 163-yard approach from the right rough on 13.

“There’s a lot of grass behind that ball, you know?” Hadley said to caddie Josh Svendsen, who agreed.

Hadley addressed the ball, then backed off. “There’s no wind. I gotta hit 9,” he said. Before hitting the shot, Hadley wanted affirmation from Svendsen. “You’re OK with that, right?”

“Absolutely,” Svendsen said.

Hadley stuffed the shot to 2 feet for birdie, and it was as if we were right next to him, watching it all play out. That was great TV, and hopefully a harbinger of what’s to come in the 2017-18 season.

(Note: This story appears in the Oct. 9, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

 

 

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