Golf on TV: Trinity Forest steals show during AT&T Byron Nelson

May 20, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; Low clouds hang over the 18th hole, forcing at the time a one hour delay prior to the final round of the AT&T Byron Nelson golf tournament at Trinity Forest Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports Ray Carlin/USA TODAY Sports

Golf on TV: Trinity Forest steals show during AT&T Byron Nelson

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Golf on TV: Trinity Forest steals show during AT&T Byron Nelson

There were several good storylines at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but unquestionably the best was the debut of Trinity Forest Golf Club on the PGA Tour schedule.

Trinity Forest was a welcome respite from the humdrum, week-to-week procession of target-golf courses that we see on Tour.

“You’re getting people to talk not just about golf, but about architecture,” Frank Nobilo said on Golf Channel during the second round. “You’re actually making people think. This has the added bounce that you don’t normally see on the PGA Tour. Personally, I think it’s refreshing.”

Ben Crenshaw, who designed Trinity Forest with business partner Bill Coore, joined the CBS crew in the 18th tower Saturday, and anchor Bill Macatee asked if he had any trepidation about the reception the course would receive.

“Bill Coore and I were nervous because we deliberately set out to do something different here,” Crenshaw said.

They needn’t have been nervous. Maybe some players don’t like Trinity Forest, but that reality is trumped by the value of presenting a different challenge to players and a different kind of course to fans.

CBS’ Nick Faldo seemed energized by the spectacle, saying, “I can see St. Andrews out there, I can see Royal St. George’s, a bit of Pine Valley.” Later he added, “The other thing I enjoy is you have to read the approaches into the greens. … They kick left, they kick right, they’re uphill, they’re downhill.”

OK, all of that that is fine. But what specifically reminds Faldo of St. Andrews? Of Royal St. George’s? Of Pine Valley? What are the most difficult approaches to read?

At the risk of sounding pedantic, here’s the thing we always have to remember: TV is a visual medium. We were told repeatedly that players have a lot of “options” at Trinity Forest. Do they putt from off the green? Do they go high? Do they go low? Where do they need to land it? Where are the problem spots?

“One of the sneaky things Ben has done, which is kind of like the modern hazard for modern professional golfers, is basically clean up everything,” Faldo said. “Send them flying off the green – left, right and center. That has a bit of scare factor.”

That’s interesting, but it’s hard to visualize when you’re watching on TV. This would have been a good week for CBS or Golf Channel to get Faldo or Nobilo out on the course, talking about the design of key holes, perhaps hitting some chips or pitches to illustrate the course’s challenges. This would have been good information for viewers and a good way of reinforcing the analysts’ expertise on architecture and strategy.

Instead, we got a lot of talk about all of the “options,” and we were left to imagine what those options might be.

Toptracer pays big dividends at Trinity Forest

CBS’ expanded use of Toptracer paid even bigger dividends at Trinity Forest, which is not just a new Tour venue, but also one that I found difficult to discern from ground level. One suggestion: Add an oversized flag on approach shots, along with some yardage signs on the bunkers, to help viewers tell whether the ball has been struck on the proper line. I found, particularly on longer approaches, that the flag, and even occasionally the entire green, were difficult to identify.

Missed opportunity

Heather Cox handled the interviews capably at Trinity Forest, with one obvious exception. After his second round, Jordan Spieth talked with Cox about his putting.

“I made an adjustment that I had been talking about making with Cameron (McCormick) and we liked, and I almost forgot about it yesterday,” Spieth said.

What was that “adjustment”? Not a clue. Cox didn’t ask.

When you’re doing an interview, you always have a list of questions in mind. I’m sure that’s true even if you’re in Cox’s position, and only have time to ask two or three questions. But the interviewer always has to listen to what the subject is saying and react. When Spieth said he had “made an adjustment,” I wanted to know exactly what he was talking about. But Cox didn’t ask. Gwk

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