How Much Golf Did CBS Show On It’s PGA Championship Coverage?

How Much Golf Did CBS Show On It’s PGA Championship Coverage?

On Saturday night, there was a lot of discussion on golf twitter about just how little golf was shown during the PGA Championship, with some claiming that CBS didn’t show anything but putts and commericals. (note to self: spend less time on golf twitter).

“That can’t be objectively true,” I thought. So I decided to do a little survey of my own.

I took two samples: one over the course of an hour toward the beginning of the broadcast and another toward the end. In each, I checked off the number of tee shots, fairway shots, greenside plays, putts and advertisements shown.

Here were the results from the initial hour segment.CBS showed 66 shots in total.

Shot TypeNumberPercent of Total
Tee Shot1827.27
Fairway 1421.21
Greenside (bunkers, chips)34.54

Putts were thus nearly half of the shots they showed in the early sample. It is not as bad as many claimed, but it still not great for an overall golf viewing experience.

A couple of caveats for the online complaints: This was only one hour; it was Sunday, not Saturday; and it is possible I missed a couple.

All that said, there is no doubt it was heavily tilted toward putts.

More concerning to me, however, was the total number of shots.

I marked 66 shots over that hour. To find out how much live golf I actually saw, I timed twenty shot segments later in the round, and found they averaged 18 seconds each.

That means that in the course of the hour I tracked the broadcast, CBS likely spent a grand total of 20 minutes showing golf shots.

The remainder were ads (16 of them) and fluff segments talking about the history of the tournament, tournament overview segments, talking heads telling us how hard golf is, and so forth.

The distribution was different in the later hour.

Shot TypeNumberPercent of Total
Tee Shot2329.11
Fairway 2025.31
Greenside (bunkers, chips)911.39

In the later hour, CBS showed more shots (79 compared to 66), but also more commercials (26 compared to 16). Gone, however, was the fluff.

A small sample also found that CBS spent more time on each shot in the later hour. In addition to the shots, CBS showed lots of player prep, often following the player as the walked up the fairway or across the green. They spent fifty seconds on one Victor Hovland shot.

A small sample of twelve shots found that CBS spent 26 seconds (compared to 18) on each shot.

We also got quite a few shots of the players just walking or standing around.

I don’t begrudge CBS the advertisement time at all. Since they operate in an environment in which they have to show a profit, the ads pay the bills.

The earlier fluff pieces were too much, however. It’s as though the CBS producers have fallen in love with the sound of their announcers voices. The overwrought prose and aggressively sentimental clips are just too much. In my opinion, the PGA should be aiming for excitement, not sentimentality. Fireworks should be the order of the day.

One final thought. For all the talk from the LIV cultists about how shotgun starts with everyone finishing at the same time is the future of golf, there is no replacement for the tension over the last half dozen holes at this year’s PGA Championship. Watching DeChambeau making a birdiie on one hole, and then wondering if Schauffele would match it when he made it through the same hole was championship golf at it’s best. So much better than watching one finish on the par four tenth, while the other finishes on the par five fourteenth on the other side of the course.

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