Call me a fool, but I’m a sucker for any U.S. Open, be it tennis or golf, men or women. With so much on the line with every shot, you find out who has the nerves and the skill to be the best. Over the weekend, Fox broadcast all four rounds of the Women’s golf U.S. Open with mixed results. Here are a few observations.
- Fox showed they were very aware that Korean women today are dominating the tour. They were also hoping to keep American viewers tuned in by following American Lexi Thompson’s every shot. Thompson is a 25-year-old vivacious blonde who is also a top tour player. Fox covered her as if she were Tiger Woods. Even after she fell out of contention on Sunday, Fox stayed with her every shot, to give the American audience a rooting interest. This wasn’t the Olympics. Some of that time could have been put to better use telling us about the players who were actually battling down the stretch.
- Analysts Paul Azinger and Julie Inkster had very good days on Sunday, especially when the entire leader board began bogeying nearly every hole at the start.
- “We all have a little ‘choke’ in us,” Azinger said bluntly. Inkster followed with, “When that happens you’ve got to get conservative. Hit a fairway, then a green. You can’t try and make it up in one hole.” Azinger continued to criticize freely throughout the day with comments like, “Oh no! Not a very good shot at all.”
- Fox covered the event with nine broadcasters plus a media expert, but of the ten only two were women. You’d think with a top women’s event like this they’d find some competent ladies to discuss. ESPN floods its women’s tennis coverage with female broadcasters.
- Saturday, after broadcasting for more than five hours, Fox cut away from the completion of the round in New York and Boston, with several leaders still on the course, to broadcast the first pitch of the Yankees-Red Sox game. As a viewer, I was prepared to go to Fox Sports One or another Fox channel to see the finish but it wasn’t an option. Instead, a crawl told viewers to go to the Fox app or (in many cases) open one. Maybe that was a marketing ploy, but not a good one. Besides, who wants to watch golf on their phone?
- Fox’ graphics seemed inferior to CBS’ golf graphics, with names and scores appearing to be too small. Also, in many cases, it was difficult to see the hole on putting greens Sunday. Some white paint might help.
- Fox’s Shane Bacon switched off with Joe Buck doing play-by-play. Sunday, he threw it to Joel Klatt who did a nice promo for the USGA’s campaign to support women ‘s golf. Klatt in turn threw it back to Bacon, who responded, “Great stuff Joel!” Really? Do we need to hear these self-gratifying compliments of each other’s work, especially while doing a promo. These days we’re hearing plenty of game announcers and analysts slobbering all over their production crews after a good replay. For Pete’s sake, it’s their job!
It would be difficult to identify a dozen big-name broadcasters as talented as these gentlemen who’ve done one event through the years. If there’s one that some of the greatest network broadcasters in history have covered, it’s the biggest one on the golf tour, The Masters. These are glittering names.
Verne Lundquist (Holds record – 37 years and counting)
Other big broadcasting names who’ve covered golf: