10 things that bug me about TV golf coverage

Despite this article’s title I will continue to watch golf tournaments on TV. But as my list of complaints about golf coverage grows, I’m finding myself watching less golf these days. I could have included a few more on my list of grievances but for now, rather than bore you in the manner that TV golf is starting to bore me, I won’t digress further.

#1 We rarely see the ball flight.

The Pro Tracer technology displaying pretty red or blue lines that show us the flight and shot shape is nice but I’d rather see the ball as if I were standing right next to the golfer instead of watching a video game.  Understanding that golf can be challenging for the camera to pick up that little white ball against an oft white sky, it has been done before. In the 2012 US Open we could clearly see Jim Furyk hook his tee shot into the trees on the 16th hole, ending his hopes of a victory.  I’ve watched various videos on YouTube where you can see a golf ball’s majestic flight against the background of a distant tree or mountain face. What it takes is for the camera at the proper distance behind the player at the proper height, the proper lens, and good experienced cameramen. At times the networks hire freelance operators who aren’t as adept at covering golf.

#2 Show me the golfer not the hole.

When a player sinks a 60 foot putt or holes a long chip, we see a camera shot of the hole for about 5 seconds.  Wouldn’t we rather watch the reaction of the player and the fans, you know, yelling, screaming, fist pumping?  I don’t need to keep staring at a hole for five seconds; I know there’s a ball at the bottom, thank you very much.

#3 Way too much putting.

I estimate 75% of golf coverage focuses on putting. I like watching putting and while it’s educational to study how the pros go through their pre shot routines, attempt to keep their heads still, and react to a missed 3 footer, I believe most of us would like to see a greater variety of shots. Chipping from poor lies, pitching from tight lies over bunkers, sand shots, and watching more full shots to small greens surrounded by hazards would be more interesting than watching a putting competition week in and week out. These are the shots that we amateurs really struggle with.

#4 Don’t say hazard.

This may sound childish but when a golfer hits a ball into the water, I don’t want the announcer to use the word ‘hazard.  That doesn’t sound penal enough for me. Certain hazards like ditches, gullies, banks along a river inside red stakes are playable. When the ball goes into a body of water I want the announcer to say, “the ball went into the water, the pond, the ocean, it’s drowned, dead, done like dinner!” Let us feel the finality of it.  I want to hear the announcer articulate what goes through my head when I see my ball heading towards that lake!

#5 Let’s see the clunkers.

Can we see the really bad shots please?  I’ve been to professional golf tournaments. Believe me I see plenty of tops, chunks, shanks, bladed bunker shots, attempted shots from the woods that hit limbs and go sideways. In other words, golf shots that we mortals make on a regular weekly basis. Unfortunately we usually only see the players who are playing well, hence good shots.  At times I think the networks don’t want to embarrass the players. Naturally we tune in to see good golf, but we also want to see train wrecks. We the golfing public need to know that PGA players are as human as we are so we can feel better about ourselves! At least I do, which is why I enjoyed watching Jordan Spieth’s train wreck at the twelfth hole at Augusta last year.

#6 It’s a great effort.

There is one thing about Ian Baker Finch’s commentary that bugs me.  When the player misses a 40 foot putt by 12 inches Finch will say, “not a bad effort”. C’mon Ian, it was an excellent effort, one that you couldn’t make in your dreams, which is why you gave up your number one world ranking for spot duty in a TV booth.

#7 Let’s kill the Konica Minolta BizHub Swing Vision.

The segment with Peter Kostis’ Konica Minolta BizHub Swing Vision yadda yadda…I respect Kostis as a teacher but the swing analysis rituals he performs each week sound all the same to me.  No matter how many lines he draws, each tour player essentially does the same thing: remaining level at impact, turning hard into their left side, use of their lower body, etc.  I’d rather you cancel this segment and replace it with ‘things the players say on the course that we don’t get to hear’, like the time I heard Ernie Els use the F word when his chip came off short of the green. That would be far more entertaining.

#8 Commercials, commercials, commercials.

Five minutes of play time, two minutes of commercials. Seriously, I’ve counted with my stop watch. Corporate America is getting greedier by the week.  Honestly though, how can you watch a golf tournament today without the use of PVR, Masters excepted? I’m pretty sure this is never going to change, so if you don’t PVR the tourney, I’m guessing you’re a gold medalist at channel surfing.

#9 Stop covering the grumps.

Wouldn’t we all be in heaven if we could play golf for a living? Imagine going to an office everyday that was outside in the sun under a canvas painted with lush green meadows and sparkling lakes, getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to beat a little ball around?  I’m tired of having to watch grumpy elites like Jason Dufner, Davis Love, Bubba, and Jordan Spieth look as though they were stuck with Ed Norton’s job working in a sewer everyday. Please show me happy faces.

#10 Where are the Canadians?

I was going to elaborate on my tenth complaint, that being the minimal coverage Canadian golfers receive, but thanks to Adam Hadwin’s win last week at the Valspar Championship, I’ll put that complaint on hold for now. Well done Adam!

A question for my readers; the same question I’ve posed to my therapist: Johnny Miller is my favourite commentator; does that make me a bad person?

David Goodman
David is an overgrown kid still who still believes he can play a decent game of squash and hockey when he’s not on the course or range working on his game. Long gone from the medical industry, David loves studying the social/psychological implications golf has on the lives of its participants.

9 thoughts on “10 things that bug me about TV golf coverage

  1. All your points point to a fundamental lack of understanding of how coverage of a professional golf tournament and television works. So you can complain all you want but you may as well just stop watching then because it will never change.

  2. I’d like to see less time spent on guys preparing for shots (think Jordan Spieth) and more actual shots. Could probably double the number of shots we see and not hurt coverage at all.

  3. Too much analysis and too much focus on the practice green when most of the field is on the course. Talking heads: we want to watch golf or at least give us split screen.

  4. For me the absolute worst part of TV golf is the inability to see the whereabouts of the golf ball once it reaches the green and rolls. Enjoyment of golf at that point is gone. There are times when it is easy to see it if the light and cameras are just right. With all the technology available to highlight the ball so that it appears easy to see I am baffled why the powers that be have not made this part of the game enjoyable to watch. It is just a joke. Being a member of the older class also makes it even worse for me However, when my grandchildren ask me how I can watch golf because they cannot even see the ball I feel a lot better.

  5. How about the ” Golf Playing Through.” They split the screen with the golf 40% and advertising 60%.
    No sound either. How ridiculous is that. You can barely see anything. Why would I watch that and I’m
    sure as hell not watching the commercial either. So everyone is getting ripped off.

  6. It is so frustrating to see endless coverage on perhaps 5 players (usually US), and perhaps several of the balance players finishing hole 18.
    For goodness sake, how about covering more players.

  7. As to complaint number 10, currently wathing 4th round of Dell Match play, only 8 matches going on, been watching for over an hour, have yet to see any coverage of Conners vs Kanaya, I often wonder if there is sponsor payola going to the the networks.

    1. Not sure about payola Mike but a friend of mine who works part time for NBC says they show top ranked players first, then Americans, then anybody else. Their worst fear is a final match between two non-American, lower ranked players. I guess they don’t think it would play well with American audiences.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *