Media column: The silent 16th: Does it even need an announcer?

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 04: Fans enjoy the action on the 16th hole during the third round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, at TPC Scottsdale on February 4, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR) Chris Condon/PGA TOUR

Media column: The silent 16th: Does it even need an announcer?

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Media column: The silent 16th: Does it even need an announcer?

Some thoughts on coverage of the Waste Management Phoenix Open:

Last year a production executive suggested to me that the par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale would be a good hole to show without any announcer. There’s so much activity within the confines of that stadium setting that there’s little that an announcer can add. And now, with CBS’ expanded use of Toptracer, viewers know what is happening on the tee shots.

CBS takes the opposite approach, having Gary McCord on No. 16. McCord, as we know, seems determined to cram as many words and tired jokes as possible into each on-air hit.

Having spent the weekend listening to McCord, I’m more convinced than ever that using no announcer on 16 would be a worthwhile experiment.

Toptracer update

CBS has been hyping its use of Toptracer this season. This unquestionably is a big, if overdue, enhancement to the coverage. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing how Toptracer will improve CBS’ coverage of the Masters. (For insiders, that’s what is known as sarcasm. Come April, I fully anticipate that CBS executives will tell us that Toptracer is great everywhere – except at the Masters.)

Two observations on the Toptracer: If you’re going to use the tracer, you need to, you know, show it. There were repeated instances, particularly on the 18th hole at TPC Scottsdale, when the tracer would be cut out of the split-screen image.

Also, midway through Sunday’s coverage, CBS showed all of the tracer images from earlier in the day on No. 16. (NBC sometimes does the same thing.) The problem is, viewers don’t learn anything from that. A better use would be to replay the tracers from, say, the two best shots of the day, or the two that had the biggest hook or draw. Then viewers can focus on how players attacked the hole.

Graphic description

Here’s a good use of a graphic. On Sunday’s pre-game show, Brandel Chamblee wanted to illustrate Jon Rahm’s advantage over the field with his driver. So Chamblee showed the position of each of Rahm’s drives on three holes to illustrate the lack of dispersion and consistency in distance.

“He’s playing with Phil Mickelson (the first three days),” Chamblee said. “I promise you, Phil, after watching these shots come off the tee, went, ‘My goodness, I wish I could do that.’ He leads the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee. His driver is a weapon.”

It’s one thing to say Rahm is a great driver, but that graphic hammered home just how precise he is with the big stick.

Plenty of slow play to go around

When Golf Channel’s early coverage went off the air at 3:45 p.m. ET Saturday, Justin Thomas was sitting at -10, two shots off the lead through 12 holes at T-4. He had birdied his first six holes to get into contention. When CBS’ coverage came on the air an hour later, Thomas had fallen to -7, T-18 on the leaderboard.

CBS’ coverage was preceded by the Kentucky-Missouri basketball game, and there was still 11:27 remaining when the Phoenix Open’s coverage window was scheduled to begin. The basketball game didn’t go off the air until 4:41 p.m., with no overtime.

And you thought golf had a slow-play problem.

Perfect not-so perfect

I think I might add a recurring element to this weekly column on words that I hate to hear announcers use. This week’s word is “perfect” – as in, the course conditions are “perfect” (per Matt Gogel) or Rickie Fowler’s putt has a “perfect roll” (per David Duval).

Both statements are manifestly inaccurate, but announcers continue to misuse the term rather than making the effort to describe the action with more precision. Gwk

 

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