Golf on TV: What the PGA Tour could learn from the NFL

Nov 26, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; A Fox television camera during a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Golf on TV: What the PGA Tour could learn from the NFL

Digital Edition

Golf on TV: What the PGA Tour could learn from the NFL

Sunday, Sept. 9 marked the first day of the rest of the golf season. The NFL is back in full force, which means coverage of the PGA Tour, with a few exceptions, will migrate from the networks to Golf Channel for the next four months.

The NFL has lost a lot of momentum in recent years; much of that reflects weak management, poor decisions by players and the declining quality of the on-field product. Despite all that, it remains the nation’s dominant sports league on television.

With the final round of the BMW Championship postponed, I watched some of Sunday’s NFL coverage with this thought in mind: What could the PGA Tour learn from the NFL? Here are five things that came to mind.

5. Time for the ‘Ticker’

It has been 32 years since NBC introduced the “Ten-Minute Ticker” during its NFL coverage. Unlike today’s scroll at the bottom of TV screens during NFL games, scores of all active games were simply laid over the full screen during breaks in action in 1986. It wasn’t an elegant presentation, nor was it always on time. One reviewer quipped, “After two weeks of timing NBC’s Ten-Minute Ticker, I’ve decided that no one at NBC can tell time.”

Remember, though, this innovation predated the internet, DirecTV or other means of easily tracking scores around the NFL. It helped pave the wave for the “Fox Box,” with fixed on-screen scoring, the scroll and similar formats used in other sports.

Except golf. NBC and CBS still won’t showing scrolling scores; instead, they stop airing live action to show the leaderboard, much like we saw in the 1970s. Does that make any sense?

4. Better use of on-course reporters

During football games, we often see the sideline reporter providing an injury update or giving viewers a sense of the mood on the sidelines. It’s not always great information, but at least it gives viewers the sense that those reporters are close to the action.

No sports reporters are closer to the action than golf’s on-course reporters, but the only time we see them on camera is if they’re forced to do a post-round interview. Occasionally it would be nice to see Roger Maltbie or Peter Kostis show us a bad lie in the rough and explain the player’s options.

3. In-game interviews with everyone

On a similar note, in football (particularly NCAA games) we often see field reporters doing in-game interviews with coaches. (In the NBA, those interviews often are done with players.) The only time we see these done in golf is on the Web.com Tour, when play is backed up on a par 3, or the occasional walk-and-talks with PGA Tour Champions or European Tour players.

The ironic thing is that the interviews we see during football games often are rushed and uninformative, whereas in-round interviews I’ve seen with golfers – Jamie Lovemark, Billy Andrade, Padraig Harrington and Fred Couples come to mind from recent years – generated thoughtful, sometimes amusing responses. Maybe that’s because the golfers were relaxed and had time to kill, or perhaps they realized it was beneficial to their sponsors.

There’s no reason why the PGA Tour should be the lone league whose players balk at doing these interviews. The networks need more value from their Tour contracts, and the players and sponsors could use the exposure as well. And the interviews wouldn’t always have to be with the game’s biggest stars. Imagine if, say, Chesson Hadley (currently No. 36 in the FedEx Cup standings) were to stop for an interview near the 11th tee because there’s another group on the tee. That’s good for Hadley – who always seems to have something interesting to say – his sponsors and viewers, who will learn more about a young player they might not otherwise see on camera. In theory, everyone wins.

2. Standardize key technologies

When I watch an NFL game, I know I’m going to see the line-of-scrimmage line and the first-down line on every play. When I watch golf, I might see shot-tracing technology or putting graphics on a hole – or I might not.

Rather than golf producers teasing viewers with cool technology here or there, let’s identify two or three of the best technologies, then put all of the sponsorship dollars behind them so that we can see them on every hole.

1. Mic ’em up

I’ll reiterate an old favorite: Start putting microphones on PGA Tour players or their caddies. NFL Films has been doing this for decades. We don’t necessarily see the benefits of this on Sundays. But it produces great content for weekly highlights shows and season-ending anthologies. That sort of peripheral programming takes fans inside the game and helps them learn more about the players. Gwk

Latest

More Digital Edition
Home