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« Bamberger On The Ball | Main | Video: Morgan Hoffmann On Morning Drive »

Golf On TV: Is It Time For More Second Screen Analysis?

Martin Kaufmann at Golfweek poses a fair question following last week's Hero World Challenge, where Morning Drive and Golf Central pre-game coverage followed Tiger Woods from the range through his first few shots.

As Kaufmann notes, the more analytical, observational coverage reminded him that most golf broadcasting is forced to state the obvious--Frank Chirkinian's worst nightmare--depriving viewers of more meaningful insights. On "eavesdropping" on Brandel Chamblee, Frank Nobilo and Trevor Immelman's discussions, Kaufmann writes...

From time to time, I’ve broached the idea of testing anchor-less coverage – just smart golf guys talking golf. There wouldn’t be any play-by-play because we can see what’s happening, but there might be a need for enhanced graphics.

There’s some precedent for this. Three months ago I pointed to an MLB Network experiment called a SABRcast – a play on sabermetrics – in which four analysts “called” a game in San Francisco from a studio in New Jersey. They didn’t do play-by-play; instead, their conversation was topical, based heavily on analytics. The conversation was smart and insightful, just as it was last week as Chamblee, Nobilo and Immelman watched Woods.

Kaufmann goes on to suggest it's time for a second screen alternative that let's golf fans stream or choose the feed analysis they want. Thoughts?

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Reader Comments (41)

Please let this be a thing. Pictures are words. Many additional words on top of picture words is a broadcasting epidemic.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPJ
Terrific idea...
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZokol
I agree with Kaufmann. Further to this, I've always wanted an option to turn the commentary off. I still want all the sounds of the event; just the option (every once in a while) to listen to the coverage without the broadcasters endlessly talking us through the shots. We sometimes come close to this with the amen corner coverage at the masters and also back in the days when the open was on bbc. There used to be gaps of "golden moments of silence" where presumably Peter Alliss was sourcing some more gin...

Less talking allows for a special atmosphere to be built in my opinion, especially for the bigger events. Most viewers that know the game don't need to be told that "Tiger has a six footer on the first hole". We have eyes for that. I guess a bit more flexibility in the coverage would be good.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered Commenterlairde11
I rather enjoy the European commentators who will talk about what they had for dinner the night before or the type of aircraft landing on the adjacent runway. Keep it light; I can see the action.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterHardy Greaves
Personally, I love when I have the option to switch the audio to the SAP broadcast, which always just ends up being everything except for the commentary. It is much more fascinating to be able to hear the talk between the players and caddies and sounds much closer to what you would experience if you were actually at the event. These are the sounds that are always covered up by the constant babbling about how good of friends Spieth and JT are and other often-repeated narratives. I realize that I am in the small audience that would prefer this (golf nerds), but I wish it was available with every broadcast. Typically only works during the Golf Channel portion of the events.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMikal
Just like the SAP button for Spanish, I could see an additional audio channel with a TV guy and a complete novice non TV non media, ordinary person commenting and asking "uninformed" questions.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterZimmer
Except for majors, just show the Sunday round. Thank you. Problem solved.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSclaff & Foozle
Count me as supportive of this idea. I'd also like to see more time on the range with the shot tracer watching guys (and girls) warming up.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterSchlasser
Last couple of years Fanny Sunesson was visiting the reporter's booth at the Masters for an hour or two on one day. That has always been the best part of the entire tournament when it come to broadcasting. Discussions quickly drifted away from the action to more general insights about the Masters and the course. Her experiences and knowledge is amazing and she has the talent to talk about it as well. Bring in people that have something to tell and add to a broadcast and let them loose.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterExilgolfer
As old Monty Python would say, "Splunge for me, too". Great idea, would love to check it out.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterThe Big K
I'm all-in on giving this broadcasting format an audition as an alternative to the painful drone to which we are regularly subjected.....the mute button can also be a little boring at times but it is my trusty go to antidote....there are numerous innovative ways to incorporate this type of audio if one uses the imagianation....and I agree with Hardy Greaves - the European Tour commentators are far more interesting and pleasurable listening....they are often spontaneously humorous and that'a a good thing during a 4-hour golf broadcast.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKeith - NYC
Fine, as long as one of the jabberers knows golf history as fluently as Jim Nantz does.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterTom
I really did not need the breathless explanation of the announcers of every Tiger shot either. It was pretty clear when he was bombing a two iron what was going on. Also this was a limited field event, the broadcasters could show every shot by every participant while they are on the air. I am pretty sure there was some interesting golf being played by someone other than Tiger or one of the players in the last couple of groups out.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered Commenterrmppia
the idea is a double-edged sword. it would be great to have LESS of the obvious and meaningless (that one is going to break just a shade to his right, johnny.. uhh, that one stayed straight) but i still want to know club and distance (Tiger in fairway bunker on 18 at Valhalla - 205 with a 6 iron). What golf does not need is more graphics to fill in info not supplied by commentators- the screen is overcrowded already! Perhaps have the broadcasters, specifically the American broadcasters, re-think their role: Less chatter from the booth and more of the sound being picked up by the talented audio engineers all around the course.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered Commenterjack
Good idea. Just keep the piped in bird sounds at the Masters.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterLA John
For the last 4-5 years I watch less golf and when I do I mostly - say 75% of the time - watch it with my mute button fully engaged. I know I'm often missing the announcers getting all giddy when DJ or Rory hits one way out there but that's the price I have to pay I guess.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGreg
Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterGinGHIN
That's basically what twitter has become.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterDon
Love the Chirkinian reference. Frank was a pr*ck but that's what it takes when surrounded by people hogging oxygen because they love to talk in the belief it justifies their existence. The HR Dept would be on overload with complaints with a producer like him today. Instead they'll spend millions changing the format rather than hurt any feelings by kicking a few behinds.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
Love the idea. Another frame of reference would be the Masters streaming coverage offered via the Masters app. I love the non-network channel options for specific holes, amen corner, etc. The reason is that unlike the network coverage, there are periods of pure silence where you find your self just watching the players "play", with little to no commentary from broadcasters. I'm all for insightful perspective from former players and caddies in moderation as players are playing, but anything that better models the Euro Tour coverage, where less talking equates to a better viewing experience should be the goal.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPMG
PMG beat me to it. The only TV golf I can abide are the Live Streams from the Masters, either following a featured group all the way around or Amen Corner/15-16, in a window on my desktop. Kratzert and his colleagues are easy on the ears and know what they are talking about. Sunday morning EPGAT live when I have access to GC is also good. The rest? Play golf, America!
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
No network needs to pay anyone to sit in a booth, or walk the course, just to hear them cry, "Oh, that putt just missed." I can see the ball sitting 3 inches from the cup.

But the alternative might be watching a player hit a 100-yard wedge shot 40 feet from the hole and hear, "That was a good shot for Joe Schmoe, whose average distance to the hole from 100 yards is 43 and a half feet. Well done!"

The PGA Tour's not going to be enamored with that.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered Commenterrgw
But how will I live without knowing that "left to righters are the toughest putts for right-handers", or that the last shot "will really make dinner taste better/worse", or "that was an unforced error" ?? I mean, only experts know this stuff, right?

Club and distance would be nice to know and not much else. Faldo, who jabbers constantly and loses me completely when he goes Cockney, Jacobson, arguably the worst announcer in golf and Steve Sands, who many contend is a great interviewer, but is so gushy with respect to the players that I feel like taking a shower after 30 minutes of him, should all find something else to do.

If the camera work is good (and it usually is) and the graphics minimal but relevant, what else do you need?
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPops
ESPN has done something like this in football for the College Championship game the last few years. They have an option they call the Film Room. It might air on ESPN2, or U or whatever. A moderator and a few current coaches, watching the game like guys talking in a bar. They don't feel the need to talk every second, but when they do it's usually something interesting and not really over the heads of serious fans.

Maybe not something for the masses, but a good niche for those who watch enough football they don't really need the play by play.
I have to admit I've stopped watching after hearing Mr. Wadkins state for the 1821st time: "Jimmy....he's got a lot of green to work with here so I expect him to get it close." Meanwhile said player is standing 319 yards away from the hole......
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterCroDad
Was just about to mention that, Patches. The Film Room is absolutely terrific. I learn a heckuva lot. The Tour could really use this for the regular events. Everyone's watching the majors anyway including me, but I need something more to watch The Travelers on a nice Saturday afternoon.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
It doesn't matter. Tape and fast forward.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterFC
LMAO...yes lets make TV golf just for the hard core "analytical" golf fan. Bad idea...if you want golf on TV. Everyone can mute the TV anytime they want.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered Commentermarmooskapaul
Interesting idea and I’d watch but the networks will never do this. Too much $$$ invested in their talk way too much talent
Multiple audio tracks makes this fairly easy to do from a technical standpoint.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik J. Barzeski
Having a second channel available with no announcers would be a great option from a consumer standpoint. I'd use it. But as there would still only be one video feed it'd be nice to be able to go back to the talking heads if they were doing a meaningful interview.

Some may recall the NFL Jets v/s Dolphins game back in Dec 1980 with no announcers. Interesting experiment but they never did it again.
12.6.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJupiter
I want to know
- who is playing the shot
- distance and club selection
- Any other important or relevant info

The worst are some of the Aussie commentators who try to be "clever" - Wayne Grady is a prime example
Punx, I didn't know Grady was trying to be clever. that's cause I'm still trying to figure out who is "SCotty" (Scottie?) that he is referring to. Adam Scott? Scott Hend? Francis Scott Key?

A good announcer can speak and enunciate and move seamlessly through it with a producer in his ear. A great announcer knows when to be quiet.
12.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterPat(another one)
Most people are multi-screening when they watch TV -- they're also texting with friends or watching something else on a tablet or whathaveyou. Many people watching football also have Red Zone or a fantasy screen up on another device. Raise your hand if you've had the main Masters feed on your TV with Amen Corner running on your iPad.

The battle for sports leagues isn't just to own the main TV but also to get on those secondary devices that are being used.
12.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
Would love to hear Peter Aliss in his prime, one more time! Problems solved.
12.7.2017 | Unregistered Commentermeefer
@Erik -

I agree ... in theory (about the multiple audio tracks) ... not too many average viewers will be able to switch that on the fly if its TV-based though. Would be solid on the mobile device though for sure.

There's lots of older threads on here where some people really put thought into this whole broadcast angle. ;)
12.7.2017 | Unregistered CommenterConfused
Why not simply watch sports events with mute button on? If something unusual or interesting occurs, rewind, hit play and switch off the mute Regardless of the sport (apart from Mike Emrick calling a hockey game or Mike Pereira interpreting NFL rulings) talking heads don’t add to my enjoyment of sports broadcasts.
Hell to the yeah. Back in ye olde tymes that's how the British broadcasters did it, assuming the viewer already understood golf and mostly shut up, tut-tutted or called a fine shot when one happened.

And let's be clear -- there are cameras following several groups and the director calling what goes to the feed. Screw that. I want to direct my own show and pick what groups I'm watching.
12.8.2017 | Unregistered CommenterMajor Paine
I'm with ya @lairde11. Lets have a chance to mute the announcers but keep the crowd noise and on course mics. This would be even better to sports like Hockey, Basketball, Baseball etc.

But I guess muting the announcers means we wouldn't be able to hear all the promos.
12.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterJordan Caron
Smart and insightful and Chamblee in one sentence doesn't feel right
12.9.2017 | Unregistered CommenterOliver

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