Golf TV - The Future?

By: | Mon 29 Oct 2012 | Comments

So I sat down to watch the start of the Golf Grand Slam event in Bermuda. Set my sky to auto change to Sky Sports 3 for its scheduled 9pm start and to my shock when the channel changed what I found wasn't the golf. In fact it was the Swiss ATP Tennis event between Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Serbian Viktor Troicki in the round of 32 in front of 30 people, at best.

I know, that's exactly what I thought.........

Then to my horror I saw this tweet from SkySportsGolf.

Ok. Fair enough, it must be just finishing. No. 1st Set. 2 games all.

If this match goes to ties breaks and 3 sets the golf will be finished by the time it 'goes live'.

Luckily Dimitrov got the job done in double quick time and the Golf eventually came on just over an Hour after it was scheduled. As a Golf nut this is unacceptable.

It's not the first time. It won't be the last.

The week before I had tuned in to find that 'The Golf will start after the conclusion of the Speedway meeting'. I understand that Golf doesn't have a given right to be a priority over these sports. I can accept that due to contracts/sponsorship these events have to be shown live on Sky.

At this point I'd like to point out that I am not a particular fan of either Tennis or Speedway, but fully understand there are those who do follow these sports and would have been quite happy with the extended coverage.

Now looking at a different sport in the shape of Formula One.

Again, for me, not a fan. But I have to stand back and admire the job Sky Sports have done with their dedicated F1 channel. I'm sure F1 fans will back me up in saying they have taken the coverage we get here in the UK to another level. And for those out and out F1 nuts it provides some kind of coverage/replays/analysis around the clock. It's a great model. And one which has no doubt generated, not only continuing viewing from the die hards, but also new viewers.

Now, back to Golf. Firstly the European tour.

A good job is being done. I say good through somewhat gritted teeth. If you’re like me, which I know a lot of people are, it pains me when I have to wait for coverage to start at 2/3pm when I know there are some world class Golfers playing on world class courses at 8/9am and this coverage goes unseen, apart from the 2 minute highlight reel on the European Tour website.

Surely more coverage would potentially attract more viewers?? This could then be a snowball effect and may attract - who knows? - more sponsorship, more young golfers picking up a club, bigger tournaments in the UK, maybe even the top players would want to be involved with the European Tour?.......I'm sure the list is endless.

As we know Sky Sports get their coverage from the US broadcasters (on the PGA tour).

Hands up who has sat down to watch the golf, obviously following a delay due to the Tennis or Speedway ;-) , only to see 5 mins of coverage before they do that horrid 'fill the next half hour while our broadcasters change over'

The PGA tour undoubtedly is where the best players want to be. I can deal with that and due to this this most of our coverage will start at 7/8/9pm sometimes going into the early hours. Which again for some maybe is an issue?

So what do we want??

It's easy for anyone to say 'Sky should have a Golf channel' but obviously it's not that simple. Agreed it’s the way forward though.

Viewing figures for majors and In particular the Ryder Cup are at all-time highs. Golf trade shows are becoming more and more popular with visitor numbers ever increasing. Golf popularity is on the up. Money in the game in on the up. Talent in the game is on the up. Youth in the game is on the up. The competition is on the up. All is backed by the fact that come the Olympics in Rio 2016 golf will once again feature after a lengthy absent.

With the correct people involved the market is surely there for a dedicated Golf channel in the UK. The sponsorship and funding will obviously be a stumbling block somewhere along the line. And maybe is a discussion topic for another time. I'm also not the best person to comment on this as my knowledge on starting a TV channel is nil. But it happened pretty sharpish with the F1 so why not Golf?? I'm sure the likes on Monty, Roe, Pugh and Coltard to name but a few would give it their backing and give them, potentially, their own 'feature slots'......ok not so much Roe. ;-)

Other areas may also benefit from this. Ladies European Tour, Challenge Tour, Disabled Golf. I know these all get some (very small amount) but would it also be great to see our sport growing in these types of areas as well? The possibility of sponsors sitting up and taking note of these could be a massive advantage to all those involved. After all these are still all forms of top quality golf.

With our much loved sport currently in its strongest period in the modern era surely it's time to act on it now?

Where Next

Well what can we do? What are the possibilities?

Not a great deal. We can obviously push our case via social media - Facebook, twitter and the likes, but will it gets noticed? Probably not.

With coverage of live sport in general on the BBC becoming less and less there is no point going down that route.
Maybe the possibility of an internet based TV channel to get the ball rolling. The [email protected] coverage we sometimes get on the PGA tour website could be a good starting block? Having said this we see full coverage of only 2 holes on the course but it’s better than nothing whilst waiting for Sky coverage to start. Maybe the European tour can look at this model and work on something with Sky? Surely it will only benefit ALL parties involved?

If the results there are good then who knows what it may lead to? As said, this would only be a starting block.

Or we could keep voicing our opinions in the hope that someone listens?

Maybe we have to leave it to the powers that be to realise for themselves that there could be a massive opportunity to help grow and promote our sport?


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