The skepticism with which many greeted the news that the USGA had turned over its championships to a golf upstart won't dissipate with one telecast, but it's not likely that Fox Sports did much to reinforce it, either.
Joe Buck with Fox analyst Greg Norman
Not that too many would notice. Fox chose an inconspicuous vehicle to enter the golf business, the Franklin Templeton Shootout, part of the silly season, or, as anchor Joe Buck called it in deference to the PGA Tour, the Challenge Season. It didn't have much with which to work. But give the network credit for its opener that included what seemed to be an acknowledgement of the skepticism.
"I realize one thing," Buck said. "People at home don't care who's covering it. They just want to sit on their couch and watch golf. There's only one real way for us at Fox to start this venture and that is humbly.
"When you get into this situation you realize how hard it is to cover golf and make it look seamless. I want to tip my cap…to the fine folks at CBS and the work of Frank Chirkinian in changing and revolutionizing the way golf is covered on television. And that's up to present day, whether it's NBC and Golf Channel, or ABC and ESPN or TNT.
"Right now we are not worthy. Someday maybe we will be. We hope to innovate. We hope to have some fun. But most of all, in the promise we made at Fox to the USGA, is that we're going to respect this great game."
The scrutiny that Fox generally and Buck specifically are going to receive was conveyed by Buck to former USGA executive director David Fay, its rules expert.
"David, you're well aware of this," Buck said, "Kim Kardashian tried to crash Twitter, and evidently Twitter almost crashed when I introduced you as the executive director of the USGA. I thought it was assumed that you were the former executive director of the USGA."
A cursory check of Twitter turned up no mention of it. Twitter criticism of Buck doing golf, meanwhile, was extensive, and over the top in many cases. Buck is an avid golfer who plays to a handicap index of five (it was 3.6 earlier in the year) and knows the game.
Buck, incidentally, will be calling the Seahawks-49ers game in Seattle on Sunday, no doubt inviting more criticism. It goes with the job. And in the end, what Buck said about golf telecasts, that people at home don't care who's covering it, has an element of truth, whatever the sport.
The quality of the competition carries the telecast, not the voices describing it, even Buck's.