Golf on TV: Proactive approach pays dividends for Lanny Wadkins on Champions Tour broadcast

CBS TV Golf Coverage, for use in any tv/golf media column. (Dan Kilbridge/Golfweek) Dan Kilbridge/Golfweek

Golf on TV: Proactive approach pays dividends for Lanny Wadkins on Champions Tour broadcast

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Golf on TV: Proactive approach pays dividends for Lanny Wadkins on Champions Tour broadcast

Golf Channel analyst Lanny Wadkins picked up some good audio on the 16th hole of the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic. Steve Flesch’s caddie recommended a 7-iron, while Wadkins said Flesch initially pulled a 9-iron before going back to 8-iron.

It’s impossible to know what was going through Flesch’s head at that moment, but Wadkins told viewers a player doesn’t want any “negative thoughts” before a key shot. That seemed prescient given that Flesch pulled the shot long and right, chipped well past the flag and eventually made bogey. (Flesch birdied 18 to reach a playoff, which he won.)

“It’s got to be the indecision between clubs,” Billy Ray Brown, following the players on course, speculated.

“Yeah, I agree, you and your caddie have to be on the same page,” Wadkins said.

It’s one thing to hear announcers speculate about poor shots after the fact. But Wadkins made good use of the audio to predict a possible problem before it occurred. I’ve been critical of Wadkins on occasion, but that was an example of exactly the sort of insight a viewer should expect from a former player.

Business as usual at Harbour Town

Over the years, every golf publication has written the story about Harbour Town Golf Links being the place where the PGA Tour comes to decompress each spring after the Masters. I suspect that the same is true for the CBS crew, which has to be on its best behavior at Augusta National.

Consider that a reader emailed me on Masters weekend wondering whether Nick Faldo would face a reprimand for noting that there was “rough” on the right side of Augusta National’s ninth fairway. That’s the sort of question no one would even think to ask the other 51 weeks of the year.

Augusta National is all about hushed tones and overly reverential commentary. At Harbour Town, CBS, unbound by the Masters’ ground rules, can get back to business as usual. That’s not always a good thing, but I found it oddly appealing to see Ian Poulter yukking it up in the 18th tower after Saturday’s round, and hearing Gary McCord, long ago banished from Augusta National, saying of a badly missed Si Woo Kim putt Sunday: “That was ugly right there.”

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a welcome return to normalcy.

Plenty of wind, not enough info

Tee times were moved up Sunday at Harbour Town because bad weather was about to hit the East Coast. So everyone knew the wind was going to be a factor during the final round. It would have been nice to know how much of a factor the wind was.

We were told that it was affecting all sorts of shots, even a delicate pitch shot that Luke List left short, in the bunker, on 14. Announcers speculated that the wind was blowing 10 mph on some parts of the course and perhaps more than 30 mph closer to the water.

When a network knows beforehand that wind is going to be a big factor in a round, wouldn’t it make sense to get the wind gauge out of the toolbox and use it as often as possible? That way, neither the announcers nor the viewers would have to speculate about the impact of the wind.

I make this point from time to time because our job in the media is to be as accurate as possible.

Not the phrase we are looking for

Here’s the latest phrase I’d like to banish from television commentary: “That’s not the shot he was looking for.”

I suppose announcers have used it for years, but I seem to be hearing it a lot recently during live coverage. My point here is: We can see it’s a bad shot. Try, as best you can, to tell us why it was a bad shot. Gwk

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