Golf on TV: Fresh look from Golf Channel at Houston

HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 14: A NBC Golf Channel camera operator is seen during the final round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 14, 2018 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Golf on TV: Fresh look from Golf Channel at Houston

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Golf on TV: Fresh look from Golf Channel at Houston

Some thoughts on the weekend’s TV coverage:

Golf Channel welcomed two new announcers into the 18th tower during the first two rounds of the Houston Open. Mark O’Meara served as lead analyst Thursday, followed by Tom Lehman on Friday.

It’s not clear why O’Meara and Lehman worked the 18th tower as opposed to a regular member of the Golf Channel crew, such as Curt Byrum, who was on the Houston announcing team. Word is that with some Golf Channel announcers already on their way to Augusta National, it was a good opportunity to test new talent who might be able to help in the future on tournaments or news coverage.

But it’s probably safe to speculate that the Golf Channel/NBC team also was using the tournament as an opportunity to do some due diligence on prospective candidates to replace Johnny Miller should he choose to retire.

This was the second time I can recall seeing Lehman in the 18th tower. He joined the Golf Channel crew once in 2017 in Hawaii and seemed to fit right in with the crew. And O’Meara, who lives in Houston, always has had a folksy, media-savvy manner.

For what it’s worth (and that ain’t much), I doubt that either O’Meara or Lehman are viewed as potential replacements for Miller, though that’s purely speculation on my part. Both play it safe in their public comments. Neither has that edgy demeanor that will make viewers think, “Hmm, I wonder Mark or Tom would say about that?”

Both men, however, have won the British Open, the only men’s major championship broadcast by Golf Channel and NBC. So while I’m just speculating again, I wouldn’t be surprised if O’Meara and/or Lehman have a role in coverage of this summer’s Open.

Too many words, not enough question

One of the issues I’ve raised a couple of times recently is the manner in which post-round interviews are conducted. Golf Channel’s Steve Sands is a fine interviewer, but recently I’ve noted that he’s gotten long-winded in his questioning.

Lisa Cornwell might have one-upped Sands. Late in the third round of the ANA Inspiration, she interviewed Amy Olson after Olson had played her way into the final group on Sunday.

Cornwell had two questions for Olson. By my count, the first question was 96 words, the second was 63 words.

That’s just too long. A good rule of thumb when interviewing someone is: Don’t talk more than your subject. That’s especially true when players still are on the course. The interviewer has to be prepared, distill the questions to their essence, and ask them concisely, so that the producer can get back to coverage of live action.

This is a problem that’s easy to rectify with a few words of advice from the producer. My concern is that too often producers give their announcers too much leeway, or too little direction, and the problem only gets worse.

The Telestrator has a new Czar

The Telestrator, according to Professor Wikipedia, was first used in the late 1950s on Chicago public television. It was popularized in sports in the late 1980s and early 1990s by John Madden on NFL telecasts and Mike Fratello (“The Czar of the Telestrator”) on NBA coverage.

Apparently, NBC’s Gary Koch is the new czar. Koch occasionally uses the Telestrator to illustrate ridges and falloffs on greens. I suppose the technology still has some utility as a cost-effective, stopgap measure. But after all these decades, I can’t help but wonder: Shouldn’t the medium have advanced beyond the Telestrator to new technology?

‘I can’t believe I just made that mistake’

I loved the on-course audio during the final round of the Houston Open after Jordan Spieth’s wedge shot sucked back off the green and into a swale on No. 10.

“I can’t believe I just made that mistake, Michael (caddie Greller),” Spieth chastised himself. “I can’t believe I just made that mistake.”
There’s nothing Johnny Miller could say to improve upon that.

Final word

Judy Rankin after Jessica Korda holed a difficult bunker shot on 14 Sunday: “That is the best way to stop that shot out of the bunker. There is my expertise of the day.” Gwk

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