MEDIA WATCHDOG: Grading CBS Sports Golf Coverage

Street Talk MEDIA WATCHDOG: Grading CBS Sports Golf Coverage

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The Commentators:
Booth: Jim Nance & Nick Faldo
On Course: David Feherty, Ian Baker-Finch, Gary McCord, Peter Oosterhuis
Watching golf is like cutting your grass; you either like it or you would rather suffer through a root-canal at the dentist’s. Personally, I enjoy golf on TV if it’s done the right way and CBS Sports shot under par during its final round coverage of the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach.
I understand if you don’t play golf how it’s hard to believe a sports fan can sit down on a Sunday afternoon and watch for three hours when Tiger Woods is not in the field.  But guess what?  Without Tiger in the field these days there is more drama and with a location as gorgeous as Pebble Beach you could talk someone into watching the grass grow on the 18th hole.
The broadcast opened with a nice beauty shot from the par-3 7th tee into the ocean.  This really set the tone for the rest of the day as Pebble Beach is arguably the most beautiful course on the planet and you would think the producer told his camera guys to find the sun, surf and sand as much as possible.
Keep in mind when watching the final round of a non-major PGA event that you are coming into the game when it’s already almost half way done. CBS picked up with the last group on the 7th hole and did a fine job of recapping the earlier action and went to break with an update on the leader board. I felt up to speed within the first five minutes of the broadcast.
Another nice touch, although expected, was the full screen graphic detailing the course stats. This event is one of the few on the PGA tour where multiple venues are used and it’s helpful to see how the courses compare in yardage.
The in-booth team of Nick Faldo and Jim Nance are smooth and professional.  Faldo is almost the anti-Lanny Wadkins. While Wadkins was often accused of being too harsh on the players, you can quickly see that Faldo critiques in a much softer way.  He might call a shot “horrid”, but he rarely brings the hammer down.  My one issue with Faldo is that he often uses words or phrases that are so English that sometimes you need subtitles to translate the meaning into American.  There were several times Gary McCord had to ask Faldo to explain what he was saying.
I also give kudos to CBS for knowing when to use the blimp cam. You really can’t have too many aerial shots of Pebble Beach and this broadcast delivered again and again with amazing scenery.
The highlight of the day for me was watching as Gary McCord called the 9th hole when eventual winner Steve Lowery hit his approach shot from a fairway bunker 223 yards away.  Lowery stuck his 3-iron on the green to within 15 feet and then made the birdie putt on a hole that had not seen a birdie the entire day.  McCord was in awe of the shot and predicted the birdie putt before it happened as if the golf gods had whispered in his headset. Nice job Gary!
I like Gary McCord and when teamed with David Feherty they can make low-action situations more bearable with their comic banter.  You get the feeling either of them would have a beer with you at the 19th hole on any given weekend. 
Unless you watch The Golf Channel regularly you won’t be familiar with many of the foreign players in most PGA events. CBS used solid player profile graphics to introduce new faces to the viewers.
When it became clear there was going to be a playoff between Vijay Singh and Steve Lowery, Nance was quick to add that both of Lowery’s PGA wins came in playoffs.  Again, not a big deal, but little nuggets like that separate an average telecast from a really good one.
I only had two minor issues with the broadcast. This is the second year for the FedEx Cup and there was no standings update until over an hour into the show. Would a NASCAR event not give you the standings for that long?  There also could have been more info given on putt lengths.  The Golf channel provides this on almost every putt while CBS did it sporadically at best.
Grade: A-
Thumbs Up – Ken Weinman filling in for Anita MarksDon’t you think it would take the execs at 1300 AM only a hot second to figure out they should replace Marks with Weinman on a full-time basis?
Thumbs Down – The Fighting Ungers sit in for Bob Haynie: One piece of advice for WNST. Don’t ever let Haynie go on vacation again.

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Scot Kleinfeld

About Scot Kleinfeld

Scot is a Baltimore native, a Towson University graduate, and has followed sports since the early 1980’s. Scot likes to go inside the numbers and get the real “411” on the wins and losses,  hence his Behind The Numbers column.

Besides being an avid sports fan, Scot has been involved with televison sports production as an Associate Producer since 1993 for WMAR, ESPN, ESPNU,ESPN2, and the former Home Team Sports network.  In addition to his television work Scot has written articles for Baltimore Magazine, Lacrosse Magazine and Patuxent Publishing.  These experiences make him a natural as the creator of the Media Watchdog, another of SK’s fine contributions.

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