The Forecaddie: Fox bifurcates booths to provide more perspective

OAKMONT, PA - JUNE 17: A Fox Sports cameraman is seen during the second round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on June 17, 2016 in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images) David Cannon/Getty Images

The Forecaddie: Fox bifurcates booths to provide more perspective

Forecaddie

The Forecaddie: Fox bifurcates booths to provide more perspective

Fox Sports will offer viewers a fresh look and a new, if very familiar, face on its broadcasts this year.

The 18th tower has been home to anchor Joe Buck and analysts Paul Azinger and Brad Faxon for two years, ever since Fox dumped Greg Norman after its first season airing USGA championships. In 2018, Fox Sports is splitting into two booths: Azinger with Buck, and Faxon alongside rising star Shane Bacon.

The Forecaddie recently caught up with Mark Loomis, Fox Sports’ coordinating producer for golf, who says he began thinking about bifurcating the booth at last year’s U.S. Women’s Open, when Juli Inkster joined an already crowded anchor desk.

“Nobody had enough time to talk,” Loomis said. “It became clear to me there were different times to do different things.”

Loomis explained what viewers can expect to see at Shinnecock Hills in June: “On Thursday and Friday at the U.S. Open there will be hours when it’s just Shane and Brad, and hours where it’s just Joe and Paul. On the weekend, there will be times where Joe and Paul will get two holes, Nos. 1 and 2, and Brad and Shane will get two holes, Nos. 3 and 4. It adds up to 10 holes for Joe and Paul, eight for Brad and Shane. Because people don’t see us all year, it allowed us to be a little simpler in figuring out who’s talking for the viewer.”

The Man Out Front asked Loomis if he fears a perception that Faxon is being ousted from the 18th tower.

“That’s so far from the truth. The perception is that he’s not sitting in that 18th booth with the other two. The reality is that he’s going to be used more,” Loomis insisted. “When it’s just Brad and Shane, he becomes the voice.”

Michael Breed, who departed Golf Channel at the end of last year, will work on the digital broadcast for the U.S Open, U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Women’s Open, and as an on-course reporter at the Curtis Cup and U.S. Junior Amateur.

“There will be a couple of times when you see him on the main broadcast talking about someone’s swing or the way course is playing,” Loomis tells the Forecaddie. “He’s so good at demonstrating golf that I’d be remiss if I didn’t use him there.”

Inkster, who previously combined working the booth on women’s events with being an on-course reporter at men’s tournaments, will work only as a booth analyst on USGA women’s events in 2018. Loomis expects he’ll see a lot of the 57-year-old legend this summer, especially at the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club in July.

Fox Sports has an all-star lineup of venues this season. In addition to Shinnecock Hills and Chicago Golf, USGA championships will be contested at Quaker Ridge (Curtis Cup) and Baltusrol (U.S. Junior Amateur). And of course Pebble Beach, which celebrates its centenary with the U.S. Open next year after hosting the U.S. Amateur this August.

“Getting to spend a week at Pebble the year before the U.S. Open is going to be invaluable for us to get a really good feel for what we want to do there,” he said. Gwk

(Note: This story appears in the May 2018 issue of Golfweek.)

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