TV blog: Sometimes crew has to clean up Pat Perez’s mess

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - OCTOBER 15: Pat Perez of the United States celebrates with his caddie on the 18th hole after the final round of the 2017 CIMB Classic at TPC Kuala Lumpur on October 15, 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images) Stanley Chou/Getty Images

TV blog: Sometimes crew has to clean up Pat Perez’s mess

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TV blog: Sometimes crew has to clean up Pat Perez’s mess

Regular readers know I have something of a fetish when it comes to capturing on-course audio during golf tournaments. It’s a relatively simple, inexpensive way for networks to create a better experience for viewers.

There is one downside to this audio, and it can be summarized in two words: Pat Perez. Even while cruising to a four-shot victory, Perez kept Golf Channel’s announcers on their toes.

“Pat should have to, but as is customary, we’ll apologize for the language right there,” anchor Rich Lerner said after Perez punctuated a poor bunker shot with an f-bomb on No. 6 Sunday.

Perez went to his favorite expletive again on No. 11 when a poorly struck tee shot barely cleared the water. “As Rich said, maybe we shouldn’t have to, but we will apologize for Pat Perez and his comments he made there,” said tower announcer Phil Blackmar.

After Perez missed a birdie putt on 15, Lerner said, “He might have as many expletives as birdies by the end of the day.”

“That would be a lot,” quipped analyst Frank Nobilo.

On 18, when Perez and playing partner Xander Schauffele were having an animated discussion on the fairway, the announcers talked over them, as if they were concerned about what Perez might say. In that instance, the announcers probably made the right choice.

Those episodes don’t change my views on the importance of on-course audio, but I do wish Perez wouldn’t leave it to the announcers to clean up his mess.

Fox entry spurs competition

The European Tour just completed the Italian Open, the fifth of eight tournaments in its Rolex Series. It was striking how different – in a good way – the production was from what we used to see.

We saw extensive use of tracers from tees and fairways. (It was amusing to hear Tony Johnstone fretting “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear” when the tracers showed approaches drifting well right of the greens.) We saw tracers overlaid on hole graphics during some tee shots. We saw an Aimpoint-style putting line. (When Francesco Molinari started his putt on No. 8 well outside the putting line, we knew immediately that he wouldn’t have a simple tap-in for par.) And we saw graphic signposts showing yardages to hazards and pins.

There’s only one reason we’re seeing these upgrades to golf coverage: new competition. Allow me to quote myself from Aug. 9, 2013, the day after the USGA announced it was shifting its TV contract to Fox Sports after two decades with NBC:

Televised golf is, on the whole, a dismal, stale medium desperately in need of fresh blood and new ideas. Will Fox deliver that? Who knows, but it’s worth a shot. At the very least, the new competition might force other golf broadcasters to elevate their games. …

Here’s the bottom line: I haven’t the slightest clue whether Fox Sports will be good for golf or our national championships. But I’m not going to belittle Fox just because it’s new to professional golf. Many view that as a liability; I think it’s an asset because it might promote a fresh approach.

I often get emails from readers sharing their frustrations with TV coverage.

“Tell the networks to use more tracers. Tell them to stop talking so we can hear what the players and caddies are saying. Tell Gary McCord that his jokes haven’t been funny for 20 years.”

I tell all of those readers the same thing: None of the people who televise golf care what I write. I could use this space to channel readers’ frustrations from now to eternity, and the people who produce golf would yawn and keep doing what they do.

What will get their attention is new competition.

To his credit, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus acknowledged this following the 2015 PGA Championship, where his network touted the introduction of some new technology.

“I think that (Fox’s entry) made all of us sit up and say, ‘What can we do better than has been done before?’” McManus said. “I think it’s great that they came in. I think it’s great that they pushed us. I applaud them for some of their innovations.”

That’s the proper attitude. Hopefully the networks will embrace the competition and continue to push one another.

(Note: This story appears in the Oct. 16, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

 

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