I love the Master's golf tournament, but sadly it's not perfect. I'm referring to a major flaw (see what I did there?) in nearly all golf tournaments. I'm talking about the television coverage.
Following the Masters on television is simply horrific and horrible for the future of golf.
Much has been made of golf's survival without Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Known as the "Tiger Effect," it's an accepted fact that ratings are significantly higher when either of them play in a tournament.
The PGA attempted to rally behind the performance of their younger stars in waiting like Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Nick Watney and Anthony Kim. After helping these players develop a following, sometimes they get little to no television coverage based on their tee times.
I follow a few players because I like to watch the guys who hit it 300-plus yards. I like watching guys with marvelous short games. I like watching players that graduated from the Nationwide Tour. I like watching players similar to my height and build in hopes I can apply their techniques to my swing. Some players I watch, like Freddie Couples, because I'm just a fan.
Why force us to turn from our favorite flat screen television, surround-sound equipped entertainment center to watch live events on a computer monitor?
The Golf Channel broadcast says "Live from the Masters", but before and after the tournament, it's actually a two-hour broadcast that is then replayed about nine times. When the event is being played, their live coverage is four reporters sitting around a fireplace. They can only provide a few shots of players warming up on the practice tee.
This isn't a Master's flaw, but a PGA Tour tournament flaw. Imagine your favorite nephew or grandson in their first PGA event and you only see their name scroll across the bottom of the screen. As they say, "It's an outrage!"
The people behind the Masters are innovators. They were the first golf events to be broadcast in 3-D, which by the way is so pretty, I was tempted to take a six pack into my local Best Buy for the afternoon. If I can see every game of the World Cup and see the view from the cockpit of any NASCAR vehicle, I should be able to follow individual golfers around a course.
The best fix would be for the PGA Tour to start its own television network. With every tournament, they could offer a pay-per-view of every four pairings for 99 cents. The PGA Tour has talked about creating "dream" pairings, which would be great for a pay-per- view format.
This would also provide an additional revenue stream from advertisers and customers, which is always good. They would control the implementation of ideas like miking the golfers and caddies. This won't replace regular television coverage, but it could supplement it.
Television coverage goes to those at the top of the leaderboard especially on Sundays. This idea for a pay-per-view network is for those with earlier tee times. This Sunday, a few pairings that started prior to the 2 p.m. live coverage were Nick Watney and Ernie Els, Paul Casey and Aaron Baddeley, Ryo Ishikawa and Dustin Johnson, and Alvaro Quiros and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
They may not get big air time during the final round, but they are definitely fun to watch and would be worth my 99 cents.
The biggest question is, "If they build it, will you watch?"
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