The Local Knowlege


The U.S. Open on television: Ready for drones, rail cams and robotics?

The U.S. Open is the centerpiece of Fox Sports’ entry into golf coverage, the reason why the network reportedly is paying $100 million a year to televise USGA events. It begins Thursday and includes prime-time coverage.

Joe Buck will anchor the telecasts, with Greg Norman serving as the lead analyst.

Among technologies it will introduce (see video below) are drone flyovers, drop-down remote robotics cameras around the course, a small remote-controlled car with an HD camera attached to it and “set loose on the grounds at Chambers Bay,” rail cams and augmented reality graphics.

“We are going to try and do a lot of things there to make the viewer feel like they are playing the golf course right in front of them,” Fox coordinating producer Mark Loomis said. “We’re trying to get some dimensions to the greens, increase the audio from the course, and give you a better look of what the shot looks like to the golfer from the golfer’s view. The technology is part of the experience. It’s not the experience.”

Here is the television schedule for Fox Sports/Fox Sports 1 and Golf Channel coverage of the Open at Chambers Bay:

Fox and Fox Sports 1 (all times EDT)

Thursday and Friday (first and second round)
12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1
8 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fox

Saturday (third round)
2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fox

Sunday (final round)
2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., Fox

Note: In addition to the above, will have three live-streaming channels (featured group, featured holes, and U.S. Open 360) from 1 to 10 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Golf Channel (all times EDT)

7 to 9 a.m.: Morning Drive
2 to 6 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
7 to 9 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

7 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
3:30 to 4 p.m.: Golf Central Special, Live From Seattle
4 to 5 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
7 to 9 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

7 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to Noon: Live From the U.S. Open
Noon to 1 p.m.: Golf Central Special, Live From Seattle
1 to 5 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
7 to 9 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

Thursday and Friday
7 to 9 a.m.: Morning Drive
9 a.m. to Noon: Live From the U.S. Open
11 p.m. to 1 a.m.: Live From the U.S. Open

9 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
10 p.m. to Midnight: Live From the U.S. Open

9 to 11 a.m.: Morning Drive
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Live From the U.S. Open
10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.: Live From the U.S. Open


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The Top Ten memorable golf moments on "The Late Show"

Before we say a final farewell to "The Late Show with David Letterman" Wednesday night, let's countdown the funniest golf-related moments, Top-Ten lists and interviews from the past 21 years. We're going to miss you Dave!

10. The 2003 British Open champ Ben Curtis debuts the long-standing tradition of tour players chatting with David Letterman.

After winning the 2009 U.S. Open, Lucas Glover presents the "Top Ten Things Lucas Glover Would Like To Say After Winning The US Open."

In 2008, Annika Sorenstam appeared on The Late Show to read the "Top 10 Reasons Why Annika Sorenstam Is Retiring."

On April 11, 2011, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel was the topic of the Top Ten list.

. Justin Rose appeared on the show after his 2013 U.S. Open win at Merion. He presented this Top Ten list, "The Top Ten Questions People Ask Me About Golf."

5. In 2014, while promoting "The Hunger Games" trilogy Jennifer Lawrence appeared on the show and mentioned how much she loves going to the driving range.

. After his 2012 Masters victory, Bubba Watson sat down with David Letterman to talk about winning his first major, the advantages of being a lefty, his early influences in the game and more.

3. Jordan Spieth celebrated his record-breaking 2015 Masters win with a NYC media tour that included an appearance on the Late Show.

Back in 2008, David Letterman talked about competing in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and being paired with Ernie Els. It turns out he played much better than expected - he shot a 62!

When Letterman brings down the curtain on his last broadcast tonight, he'll have a hard time topping his final NBC show, "Late Night with David Letterman" that aired on June 25, 1993. It featured Tom Hanks recalling how he broke legendary comedian Slappy White's golf clubs:

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This commercial for the Hammer X driver should be the standard for all other golf commercials

We're not really sure where to start with this retro commercial for the Hammer X driver, so let's just count down its many levels of awesomeness.

1. Spokesman and former long-drive champion Jack "The Hammer" Hamm grunts "Boom!" or "Wham!" upon impact of every shot. Why isn't there more of this in golf? Maybe because not enough people are playing the Hammer X.

2. The random footage of the Space Shuttle, and other rocket ships, presumably a symbolic reference to the Hammer X's immense power. Either that or a well-struck drive REALLY DOES SET OFF THE SPACE SHUTTLE. That would seem distracting in the middle of a tight match, but maybe that's just me. 

3. Hamm, who has the type of hair Jordan Spieth would kill for, literally swings himself out of his shirt. Notice how it gets untucked in the back? Why does he even bother with a shirt at all? Shirtless Jack Hamm yelling "Boom!" and setting off the Space Shuttle might be too much for the Internet to handle.

There's plenty more, so see for yourself. The Hammer X is non-conforming, by the way, but conforming seems to be the least of Jack Hamm's concerns.

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These guys built a floating golf course and it's awesome

Andrew and Kevin Buckles are brothers who live in Nova Scotia and who are admittedly hack golfers. They're on a TV show called Brojects that's in its second season and airs on networks in Canada and Germany. On the show, they do monster do-it-yourself projects at their lake house -- like making outdoor gyms and pizza ovens.  A few episodes ago, they built a floating golf course on the lake, which is pure genius.  

Obviously, I had to chat with these guys. Andrew says the idea came from a few beers, some floating golf balls, and pondering the age-old first world problem associated with lake houses: Being on the lake is so much fun, it's tough to leave it to go to the golf course. The solution? Build a floating golf course on the lake. You get to play golf, and you don't have to leave your sanctuary.  

First, they built a floating cart. "It contains a putting green, a tee-box, a rooftop 'rough' as well as a scoreboard, bag holder, BBQ, and beer on tap hidden inside an old golf bag . . . . essentially everything you need for a round of golf.  The cart seats 4 comfortably. It is powered by an electric trolling motor," Andrew says.

floating golf course.jpg
Next, they floated 9 "pins" out in the water, and surrounded each with a floating circle. You hit off the tee box on the floating cart and try to get it in the circle. You're not going to get it in the circle on the first try every time. So, if you miss, you scoop up the ball and hit again from the floating cart, either from the tee box or from the rooftop rough. Once you get the ball in the circle, you putt on the green that's on the floating cart. 

Since you have total control over how long the holes are, you can set up a different course each time you play. All in all, this seems like a very solid way to play golf without ever setting foot on a course. 

floating golf map.jpg
Andrew says the game is admittedly new: "We are still refining the rules of play. However I can tell you we both love the idea.  It really is just like golf.  You can take full strength drives, enjoy natural scenery, escape from the house, have a few beers, and engage in some friendly competition." 

Feast your eyes on all the glory that is Lake Golf below:

Notice the giant water jug and wooden pole as a make-shift flag. The water jug is anchored to the bottom of the lake so the course doesn't float around. 

floating golf roof.jpg
Missing the green means you have to challenge your short game... and your balance. 

floating golf pensive roof.jpg
The roof is also really good for pondering the meaning of life. 

floatinggolftwilight.jpgTwilight golf: flat visibility, but low winds and low waves. Also it's just really pretty. 

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Golf Channel salutes Ben Crenshaw at the Masters: 'It's the most meaningful thing in his life'

It it high praise indeed that it can be said of Ben Crenshaw that those who know him tend to appreciate him to the same degree that he does Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters.

“In terms of accomplishments, the number 18 is known to us all,” Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee, a fellow Texas Longhorn, said last week. “Eighteen major championships. That’s the highest bar. But in terms of comportment, that’s a less obvious aspect of this game. But like the number 18, which took Jack Nicklaus 24 years to achieve, it takes a lifetime to achieve a reputation.


“And that’s what we’ve seen in Ben Crenshaw, a man who’s experienced great highs and great lows in this game. But he’s handled those two with equal grace, which is very much like the man who founded this golf tournament, Bobby Jones. The same was said of him. If I can borrow a line from Ben, My goodness has it been to fun to listen to him, to watch him, and my goodness this golf tournament is going to miss him.”

The tributes to Crenshaw, a two-time Masters champion who played his final competitive rounds at Augusta National last week, have been numerable, but one more remains, the Golf Channel documentary, “Ben Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta,” that airs Monday night at 10 (EDT).

Crenshaw’s love and passion for the game generally and the Masters specifically is infectious. It often moves him to tears. “It occupies a lot of my thoughts,” he said. “It has for a long time and it always will.”

As his wife Julie put it in the documentary, “It might be an obsession, but that’s all right. It’s almost like he’s got green blood in him rather than red. It’s just the most meaningful thing in his life.”

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News & Tours

The dulcet tones of Jim Nantz attracted more viewers to CBS' Masters coverage (or maybe Jordan Spieth has something to do with it)

It's widely known the Masters is the most watched golf event of any year. We base that not just on hard data, but the number of people in the Golf Digest office who say this is the one tournament that some non-golfer in their family sits on the couch and watches tour pros chase the little white ball.

For me, it's my Mom, who couldn't help but call Sunday night and start to gush about that nice young man who was wearing that green coat. "What was his name again, Jordan Speech?" she asked. ("Spieth, Mom. It's Spieth.")


So just how many non-golf fans joined my Mom in making the Masters their yearly golf indulgence? CBS didn't break down its ratings numbers that specifically, but it did tout in a Monday press release that its final-round viewership was up 23 percent from 2014, pulling in a 9.6 rating and a 20 share for its average household metered market numbers. (Each rating point is roughly a million viewers and the share is a percentage of the number of overall viewer watching anything at that time who were watching that specific program.) Not surprisingly, viewership peaked from 6:30-7 p.m. EDT, just as Spieth's coronation became official, with a 11.5 rating and a 22 share.

CBS also offered an interesting note highlighting the five top markets on Sunday:

Fort Myers (Fla.), 15.1/27
Greensboro-High Point Winston-Salem (N.C.), 14.6/25
Greenville-Spartanburg-Ashville (N.C.), 14.4/26
Tampa-St. Petersburg (Fla.), 13.3/24
West Palm Beach (Fla.), 12.9/26

Apparently that nice young man who tied the Masters 72-hole scoring record did connect with some other non-golfers' moms . . .  or maybe just retirees in Florida and North Carolina.

CBS' Saturday third-round ratings also were up from 2014, rising 48 percent (Tiger Woods' presence on the leader board certainly helped as well). Earlier in the week ESPN said its numbers rose for coverage of the Par-3 Contest and the first and second rounds. And Golf Channel also said its pre-game and post-game ratings were the highest in its history.

Thanks again, Mom, and all the rest of you non-golf fans. Don't be afraid to come back for the U.S. Open in June. Chambers Bay is beautiful.

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Sunday's must-watch TV: Two football games and a new Jack Nicklaus documentary

Jack Nicklaus won 18 professional majors, but what he considers the most important putt of his illustrious career happened before any of that. That's just one of many insights from Nicklaus and his contemporaries that will come to life in a new documentary chronicling the "Golden Bear's" life.

Produced by the USGA and Ross Greenburg Productions, "Nicklaus: The Making of a Champion" will debut in the United States at noon EST, Sunday, Jan. 18, on Fox prior to its pre-game coverage of the NFC Championship game. In other words, get ready to spend even more time on your couch on Sunday than you planned.

Related: Jack Nicklaus' lifeteim principles for playing great golf

"I never really paid a whole lot of attention to what I did, but to have somebody sort of exaggerate, glorify it you might say, is very flattering," Nicklaus said during a conference call on Wednesday. "It's been years since I've done any of that stuff. To go back and look at it and see some of it and see some of the shots you played, it's kind of fun."


The documentary's premier is all part of an exciting stretch for Nicklaus. On Monday night, his alma mater, Ohio State, won the college football national championship and Nicklaus will celebrate his 75th birthday three days after the film is released.

"We're proud to celebrate Jack's legacy as the 'Golden Bear' approaches a milestone birthday," said Thomas J. O'Toole Jr., USGA president. "His influence on golf can be seen in every player who followed him and every fan who enjoys playing and watching the game. This film tells the story of one of the game's greats."

The USGA also announced the Jack Nicklaus Room will open at the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., on May 27. Nicklaus will join Arnold Palmer, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Mickey Wright as golfers to receive this honor.

So about that putt. . . part of the documentary will tell the story of Nicklaus' springboard win at the 1959 U.S. Amateur, his first USGA title. It was there at the Broadmoor in Coloroado where Nicklaus made an eight-footer on the 36th hole for a 1-up win over Charles Coe.

"That putt I believe gave me the confidence and belief that I could do it when I had to in the future," Nicklaus said. "And so I think that was probably the most important putt I've ever made. . . . That was a big putt."

Related: A look back at all of Jack's Golf Digest covers

Nicklaus finds singling out his favorite major win, however, a bit more challenging.

"I think that obviously you can't pick your favorite child or the favorite golf course you did. I can't really pick a favorite major," he said. "I think they were all significant and all my favorites. Every time I won one, it was certainly my favorite at the time."

Here's a preview trailer for the film:

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News & Tours

Steve Stricker hits chip shot from top of scoreboard at Wisconsin's Camp Randall Stadium

During halftime of today's Wisconsin, Illinois football game, Steve Stricker found himself tethered atop Camp Randall Stadium's scoreboard hitting chip shots in front of 80,000 people. No, it wasn't torture for the former Illini, it was for one lucky fan. Stricker was attempting to land the 135-yard shot onto the Motion W at midfield from a platform above Section K. If he hit it, Bob Beggs of Fitchburg would win two VIP Wanamaker Club tickets to the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Why Bob you ask? Beggs was selected at random from thousands who registered to win.

Unfortunately, Stricker wasn't able to get it done for Bob, missing the W. Looks like he'll need a few more videoboard reps before Whistling Straits. Still, it's hard to beat that view.
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News & Tours

As you watch the rest of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, here's the guy who decides what you're actually seeing

When you think of sports television and storytellers, it's the people in front of the screen that come to mind. But the work of those behind the scenes is equally important, and among the most skillful at that brand of storytelling is Tommy Roy, the lead producer of NBC's golf coverage.   

loop-tommy-roy-518.jpgRoy, 55, has won 29 Emmys over his career, including the best sports broadcast of the year for the 2008 U.S. Open coverage of Tiger's win at Torrey Pines. The University of Arizona graduate began working at NBC in the late 1970s as a runner during coveage of the Tucson Open and has gone on to cover some of sports' biggest moments, including three Super Bowls as executive producer, the Olympics, NBA Finals, World Series and many more. 

Roy will be busy in the next few weeks as NBC/Golf Channel broadcast the final three FedEx Cup events of the 2013-14 season and all three days of the Ryder Cup for the first time. We spoke to him last week for Golf Digest Stix about the FedEx Cup, Ryder Cup, Tiger Woods and even John Elway. Here's an extended version of that Q&A.    

Golf Digest Stix: What separates a golf telecast from other sports?  

Roy: The biggest thing is that it's not on one court or one field. Golf is played out on 18 holes spread out over acres of property. So logistically it's much more challenging. And the competition never stops. If you're doing a football game, when you go to a commercial, they're not playing. In golf, it becomes much more complicated to go to break. You try to do it while the leaders are walking in between shots so you don't miss anything crucial. But inevitably, you do. And of course, during commercial breaks in football or basketball, you can catch your breath and regroup before the action starts, then you're ready to get going. But in golf, you're working during the break to figure out what we're coming out of the break with, if we're going to be live or if we're going to show a shot or putt on tape delay. So there's that factor.  

And then one of the biggest things is the number of athletes in a golf event. If you're doing, say, a Denver Broncos game, you absolutely know the storyline coming in is Peyton Manning. But if you're doing a golf event, you have hundreds of players, and so coming into it you're preparing yourself for hundreds of stories that could unfold over the final days. But that's where our announcers do such a great job. Bringing out the stories in these events, and giving our viewers a reason to care about these athletes.  

Golf Digest Stix: Given all those differences, do you think golf's the most difficult to broadcast?

Roy: Other than the Olympics, I think it is the most difficult to cover. And the only reason that the Olympics tops it is the sheer size, and you have a thousand athletes spread out over multiple cities. That's just gets even more massive with everything that you're doing. Auto racing, too, is very difficult when you have to stop and go to commercial. And I've been an executive producer on a Daytona 500, so I know how that works. I definitely think golf is the second most difficult to do.  

Golf Digest Stix: NBC has covered the FedEx Cup for a while now. Given the complexities of the points standings and players advancing to the next event, what are some ways you try to make it sensible to the viewer on TV?  

Roy: I think graphically, you have to keep explaining it over and over and over again. Every single telecast since this has been in existence, we've been pointing it out in the graphics. We've made green and red good and bad, whether you'll make it to the next week. We literally go back to square one every single telecast just to re-explain to people, to tell people what the graphics are explaining. And then once we get to the Tour Championship, we bring in Steve Sands to further explain it. We were using the Tim Russert white board originally to help the people at home to understand it.  

I remember the year that Phil Mickelson won the Tour Championship but Tiger won the FedEx Cup [in 2009], we had explained it ad nausea, in what I thought was an effective way. After we got off the air, I actually talked to my mom and I asked her, "You knew how that whole thing worked, right?" That Phil won the event but Tiger won the Cup, and she said, "Nope. I had no idea." So I realized then that we hadn't done a good enough job. That's when we brought in Steve to do the Tim Russert thing, and I can say that since then, my mom has understood it, so I feel pretty certain that the average viewer gets it now.

Golf Digest Stix: Mom knows best, right?  

Roy: Yeah, it's true.  

Golf Digest Stix: You will also be broadcasting the Ryder Cup. How do you think the Cup compares to a regular stroke-play event?  

Roy: A regular stroke-play event plays out over four days. But in the Ryder Cup, every single point is just as valuable as every other point. So you have all these mini tournaments that are lasting 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Just a normal day of stroke-play golf on a Thursday or Friday might get tedious on a given week, but in the Ryder Cup, there's finality after the morning session, after the afternoon session, and then golf on Saturday and Sunday.

And there's much more emotion generated at the Ryder Cup than virtually any tour event, and I'd say even greater than most majors. You're sitting in the production truck and you hear a huge roar. If I'm doing a stroke-play event, I can look at the monitor right away and know right away where it came from. But in this, I'm scanning the monitors and I'm not seeing anything. And all that happened was the fans reacting to a scoreboard change from another match and they let out a roar. It's great drama and great energy. And I have to say, the European fans are the ones who really bring the energy. All of that chanting and cheering irritates the American fans, so they try to respond. So it's great stuff.  

Golf Digest Stix: When something big is happening at a Ryder Cup and you feel the electricity on the course, how does that play out in the truck?  

Roy: Well, you have to stay impartial. We can't be rooting. But I will say that certainly when the energy level on the course is at its highest, our announcers can feel that, so they go up. And consequently, our energy level in the truck goes up too. It's just natural. But at a Ryder Cup on a Sunday, we are rocking in the truck. Because you have all these matches going on, and key shots are happening in multiple matches at the same time, we're bouncing back and forth. The thing is, there's a lot more information for our announcers to spit out. So it's not, "To 17, Tiger for birdie." It's: "Tiger for birdie, his opponent missed his birdie attempt and still has a four-footer for par. And the match is all square." So there's a lot more information you need to get out for the viewer to understand the full situation. What I'm saying in the announcers ears pretty much doubles during the Ryder Cup.  

Golf Digest Stix: For the average TV viewer just watching and not appreciating what's going on behind the scenes, what's one thing that maybe they aren't aware of that gos on to have a successful show?  

Roy: When you're sitting at home watching a golf telecasts, and the announcers are talking in a low, muted voice, and the fans are hushed, in the truck, it's LOUD. It's semi-chaotic and people are shocked when they come into the truck what's going on. But because there are so many storylines, so many players, so many balls in play spread out all over the place, there's so much communication that's required to get everything on the air.  

Golf Digest Stix: Being that you've produced Super Bowls, NBA championships, the Olympics, what have been your favorite broadcasting moments?  

Roy: I have a few. I got to produce Michael Jordan's first three championships. That's when the NBA was absolutely electric. In primetime, these games were just incredible. And then, getting to produce the Super Bowl when John Elway finally won it after losing three of them [XXXII]. Getting a chance to do three Super Bowls, you know you have every eyeball in the United States who has any interest in sports at one particular time. That's probably the only time I've felt a little bit of pressure is doing that Super Bowl. I love being on the air and I really never feel any butterflies or anything. But I did for that Super Bowl for that one time.

But, the greatest thing I've had the chance to do was working when Michael Phelps won his eighth gold medal [at the Beijing Olympics in 2008]. That was one of the things that, maybe someone back in the day had some rare feat, but it wasn't documented. I consider Phelps to be the single greatest sports accomplishment of any individual. Those events were beyond description and how cool it was to be a part of that.  

Golf Digest Stix: Wow, as a sports fan, we're on the edge of our seats watching these historic events, but you're the one controlling what we're watching. It's so cool.  

Roy: Absolutely. And by the way, Tiger Woods in 2008 U.S. Open is right up there. I remember going off the air on Friday, he had played great and we had a terrific telecast. It was a combination of ESPN and NBC, and we all thought it was great. And then Saturday topped that -- that's when he eagled 13 and 18 and chipped in at 17. That usually doesn't happen with a U.S. Open because the course is set up so hard. But I remember getting off the air on Saturday thinking, 'If only this was the final round, it'd be the greatest thing ever.' But then Sunday topped Saturday, and then the Monday playoff topped it all. It was like four consecutive days of absolutely incredible drama.

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Learn (and laugh) a lot from this parody bio video of Babe Didrikson Zaharias

When you just examine the golf accomplishments (82 wins, including 14 in a row at one point and 10 majors) of multi-sport female star Babe Didrikson Zaharias, you get the feeling there's not enough coverage of her remarkable career. But on Tuesday night, her amazing story was told to the masses on. . . Comedy Central?

Related: Check out this photo of Babe Didrikson and Babe Ruth kissing

Yep, the cable network tackled Babe's story of being a pioneer in women's golf during an episode of the parody show "Drunk History." Here's the hilarious clip that actually teaches viewers a fair amount of Zaharias history, from her prolific winning, to her relationship with fellow golfer Betty Dodd, to helping found the LPGA. "L stands for Ladies. It's pretty genius."

Great job by Emily Deschanel (co-star of "Bones") in the video, although we're pretty sure the real Babe had a better golf swing. . .

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