Fox's initial foray onto the hallowed ground of golf coverage—traditionally tending to whispers and being overly flattering of the sponsors, out of gratitude for still having them—drew mixed reviews, and rightly so. There were some hiccups during the network’s U.S. Open coverage, including instances of commentary that did not come trippingly off the tongue and an insistence on spotlighting the vertigo-battling Jason Day as he walked between holes, presumably in case he lost his balance and fell down again.
Shots of golf balls were hard to follow, but that had a lot to do with the Chambers Bay course’s brown background (though perhaps a ball halo, like the hockey puck tracker graphic, could be added to the tracer line for tee shots).
Having Greg Norman calling much of the action proved to be a plus, given his insight into heartbreaking losses at the majors, which proved to be the story line yet again—that and griping over the course’s finicky greens and fan-unfriendly layout on Washington State’s Puget Sound. But Norman could have provided a bit more information on his own epic struggles. Painful territory, yes, but he is there as a voice of experience.
We weren’t sure the “green shading” graphic technique worked. But as with the puck-tracking technology, Fox is not afraid to push the graphics envelope, and more power to them. Norman told us that if there had been 3D TV when he lost to Sir Nick Faldo at the Masters, maybe the viewers would have seen the undulations of the greens and better understood how tough they were to putt on.
All in all, golf coverage on TV could use a little less reverence and a little more attitude, particularly if it wants to start skewing younger than the walk-in bathtub set.
And even for a fan, eight-plus continuous hours of golf may be too much, particularly given that the Open leaders didn’t tee off until almost four hours after coverage began. That may be a nod to the grazing characteristic of today’s viewing, assuming nobody is going to watch every hour Fox offers up.
On balance, it was a first golf outing for Fox as uneven as the Chambers Bay fairways, but Fox can learn from its mistakes and lower its handicap.
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