Grouchy Golf Blog

Friday, March 23, 2007 at 6:23 PM

NBC HD and NBCee It Is Not Must See TV

I was ecstatic to learn earlier this year that CBS is broadcasting all of its golf coverage now in glorious high-definition (HD). It looks spectacular on my 6 month-old 1080p Sharp HDTV. Well it turns out that the only other national golf television broadcaster, NBC, is broadcasting in HD too! Naturally, I expected NBC's HD coverage to rival that of its competitor, especially after they were able to see several CBS golf broadcasts. Sadly, it appears that the has lost some of its tail feathers.

Anyone who owns a high-def TV can appreciate the enhanced resolution that HD content presents over standard definition (SD). Some say once you go HD you never go back. The clarity can be amazing, but only if the content is originally shot in HD. In fact, due to rescaling and resizing, normal old SD content looks especially bad on an HDTV.

I've watched virtually every NBC golf broadcast this season, and it's obvious that they are only employing HD cameras in about half of their coverage. It appears that they use HD cameras in their towers and SD cameras on the course. One minute the picture appears as if you were there at the tournament observing through a glass window, and the next it looks like your viewing through a screen door.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that NBC is improving their golf coverage quality. However, I'm a bit irked that they are billing their presentation as HD when it is clearly only partially HD. Compared to CBS' full HD offering, NBC's "HD-lite" comes up woefully short.

But it also seems that NBC is losing ground on the innovation front. We all love CBS' Emmy award-winning to analyze golf swings. Earlier this year, NBC introduced "NBCee It" to combat SwingVision. In short, it simply enlarges any small part of the picture, like a magnifying glass over a photo. Unfortunately, the resolution of the magnified area is painfully low. It resembles the Atari 2600 game "Breakout". Disaster isn't the word. Not only does it look horrible, but it does little to enhance the swing analysis.

Then there's NBC's golf announcement team. What can I say? If not the most elegant speaker, Johnny Miller does know golf. But there's just not much exciting going on with his supporting cast. They're kind of like parsley on a dinner plate, they neither enhance nor detract from the main course. They definitely don't inject any amount of wit and humor like that of the CBS golf crew. You would have thought that NBC would have landed an interesting personality in the aftermath of the ABC golf breakup. Instead it was CBS who bolstered an already excellent crew.

Like most things, it probably boils down to money. It's clear that NBC is spending much less on it's golf coverage than CBS; much less on technology, equipment, and talent. If NBC wants to compete with CBS, they need to step up and show me the money! If they do, then maybe I'll watch more NBC shows than just "The Office" and "Heroes".


Saturday, March 10, 2007 at 10:23 AM

I am Tiger Woods (on the Wii)

Technology moves at a quick pace. Video games has been a major beneficiary with the introduction this year of the "next-gen" gaming consoles the Nintendo Wii and the Sony PS3 to do battle with Microsoft's Xbox 360. Probably the coolest innovation is the Wii's motion-controlled controller, the Wii Remote. Instead of simply moving a joystick and mashing buttons, you control the action by motioning the controller itself.

This technology greatly expands the possibilities for video gaming. Take golf games, for example. Now it's possible to play a golf video game by actually "swinging" the controller. Can you say, "a golf simulator in your living room for around $300?

Check out this video of EA Sports' Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007 in action on the Wii in the hands of the great Tiger Woods himself. It's well worth a couple of viewings:

If anyone has played this game, please let us know your thoughts.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007 at 8:42 AM

SwingVision - Justin Leonard Driver

For all of you SwingVision junkies out there, I dug up this SwingVision of Justin Leonard hitting his off the tee. I believe it comes from the 86th PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2004 where the sadomasochist of golf, , exacted his revenge on the best golfers in the world. I'm sure that you can recall how ridiculously difficult the course played over those couple of days. Just getting your ball to remain on the green was a great accomplishment. It's a great example of how it is possible to set up a golf course so hard that it's unfair.

Anyway, below is the video. Justin Leonard has a very identifiable golf swing and it is characterized by his Johnny Miller-coined "chase" move through the ball. The video also highlights how contact with the ball should be high on the face of modern drivers to maximize launch conditions (high launch, low spin). Enjoy!

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