As I was watching the Phoenix Open this past week, I realized that there has never been a better time to be a professional golf fan. Even as CBS and NBC were otherwise occupied, there still was more than enough coverage to satisfy the die hard aficionado.
The Golf Channel was of course the primary spear carrier for the week. As they do with nearly every tournament now, the cable network provided coverage of the Thursday and Friday rounds, once live and once on a replay later in the evening. Then, in the absence of regular network PGA Tour late round coverage, the Golf Channel stepped into the gap and covered the Phoenix Open on the weekend, too.
There’s been a lot of grousing about the quality of Golf Channel broadcasts (including more than a little by this writer), but they’re either getting better, or I’m getting used to it. I suppose it takes a while for any performer to find his “voice.” Whatever your opinion of The Golf Channel’s work, it’s worth remembering that just a couple of years ago, there was no coverage of the early rounds on any station. Nor would we likely have enjoyed full coverage in the face of a conflicting premiere sporting event.
ESPN also has stepped up its game, offering extended coverage of the Masters, the US Open and the Open Championship. TNT takes up the slack with the PGA Championship. Live streaming means that you can watch anywhere you have an internet connection (and that’s practically anywhere these days). Add to that TGC’s European Tour and LPGA coverage, and there has never been more golf on television.
Television is only half the story, though. PGA radio is available on Sirius/XM at all times of the day and night. The PGA Tour website offers a nifty shot tracker application which gives a graphical play-by-play of individual players and groups. Dozens of websites offer live leaderboard updates. Mobile apps bring scores and updates directly to my Blackberry.
Thanks to the web, I have access to the golf coverage of many hundreds of newspapers and “old media” columnists. I get to read Jim Bohannon or Doug Ferguson’s columns whenenever I wish, and not just when my local paper (actually, there is no local daily in Detroit any more) decides to syndicate one. I can read about golf in the New York Times, The Scotsman or The Hindu. Type “golf” in the search box on the Google News Page, and it returns thousands of up-to-date articles from around the globe.
And then there’s the “new” media. Twitter and Facebook let me get updates directly from players. The Tour broadcasts daily tournament highlights from YouTube. And that’s not to mention the opinion pieces written on the tens of thousands of golf blogs around the net.
It’s professional Tour overload. And I’m really enjoying it.