MediaJune 22, 2015

10 ways Fox Sports can improve its golf broadcasts

How did Fox Sports do with its initial foray into U.S. Open broadcasting? Let's start with the premise that it's a thankless job. If social media were the sole arbiter of what constitutes quality sports broadcasting, well, then no one does it well, whatever the sport, whoever the anchors and analysts.


Fox did fine. Not great, but OK for a first effort, and nothing that would cause heads to explode. Or longing for ESPN and Berman.

So, with that said, here is my two cents (which at that price is probably overvalued) on 10 things Fox could do to improve:

  1. Holly Sonders was underutilized and in the wrong role as interviewer. Not a strength. She'd have been better in the role of moderator, as she did for Golf Channel, which leads us to…

  2. Curt Menefee, an otherwise outstanding broadcaster and host of Fox NFL Sunday. But his limited knowledge of golf became apparent early in the week. Sonders would have been a better fit.

  3. Less USGA worship. It's not going to happen, of course, because the USGA is Fox's "partner," as they like to say. To its credit, though, Fox did not shy from reporting on course criticisms, which by extension were USGA criticisms.

  4. What to do about Greg Norman? He's an identifiable brand in the lead analyst's chair, and that's fine. But he tended not to lead the analysis, but to follow points made by other commentators. Maybe less Norman and more Brad Faxon, who is underrated?

  5. Less talking, period. Do we need to be told that the second shot Jordan Spieth hit to the 18th green on Sunday was a great one, when we could see it for ourselves? Cutting to the set for roundtable discussions was overdone, too. Show the golf.

  6. More Hanse. Adding a course architect, Gil Hanse, to the team was a novel and successful idea, even while recognizing that an architect is not likely to criticize too harshly a member of his own fraternity or their design. But his insights on the course still were a nice addition, and he could have been utilized more during the meat of the telecast, rather in the early hours of it.

  7. Lose the big screen television during interviews. We don't need a picture in a picture, and it made for awkward exchanges between Sonders and her interview subjects.

  8. Where'd the ball land? Fox made excellent use of its shot tracer, employing it frequently and all around the course, but it would have benefitted from cutting away from it and showing the actual ball landing.

  9. The remote-controlled robotic camera was there…why? It's a novelty that served no useful purpose.

  10. Increase the use of its graphics showing the location of the hole and the distance to it. It's hard for the viewer to ascertain where the pin is from cameras behind the golfers.

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