Grouchy Golf Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2005 at 8:28 PM

NBC Golf - Light on Humor, Heavy on Innovation

NBC is one of the big 3 over-the-air U.S. television golf broadcasters. NBC's point man is Johnny Miller, an interesting commentator because he has many opinions that he's not afraid to voice. For that, I respect him. But he and his compatriots are about as funny as my foreign-speaking grandma that I don't understand. Because I value wit and humor in my golf coverage, NBC is my least favorite golf announcing team.

However, NBC makes up for it somewhat with technological innovation. While CBS has and ABC has , these are really just super slo-mo cameras. NBC will do the generic slo-mo every once in awhile, but they also experiment with new camera angles and viewpoints. Remember when NBC affixed a miniature camera on the bill of Tiger's Nike cap at the Williams World Challenge several years ago and called it the ""? It was the first time someone not named Tiger could see the game's best swing from a first-person perspective.

Then in 2002, NBC introduced the Matrix-inspired, wraparound-angle camera effect called "Swing View." The technology utilizes more than 30 cameras to capture golf swings in motion from different angles. Johnny Miller used the technology quite effectively to slo-mo a golf swing, stop it, and then swing the camera around to another angle to break down a player's swing. While it was a little rough around the edges, it was another great innovation.

At last year's U.S. Open, NBC debuted the Bunker-Cam, a microscopic camera embedded in the lip of the front bunker that can pan and tilt by remote control. It's kinda cool, but no real value.

NBC was supposed to introduce another innovation to golf coverage at last weekend's Players Championship. Called the "Cable Cam", it features a camera on a cable that is capable of moving up to 60 mph as it tracks the shots on the par-3 17th. I watched most of NBC's coverage, but I didn't notice any shots from the Cable Cam. I assume the weather prevented NBC from using it, a real shame.

I applaud NBC for taking technology to golf coverage. My only complaint is that they don't use this stuff often enough and on a consistent basis. Maybe one day, golfers will play tournaments wearing "Eye of the Tiger" cameras. If that ever happens, you can be certain to see it on NBC first.


Blogger Erik @ The Sand Trap said...

Actually, it was used to provide some of the camera views. It never really "tracked" shots, though, which is what I thought it was supposed to do.  


Blogger Mr. Shanks said...

I agree. NBC has far and away the best golf coverage. I'd like to see what they could do with The Masters if given the chance.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if a golf ball were to hit the cable? I don't know but that stuff seems like a bunch of fluff to me. Just show me the golf and give me some intriguing commentary.  


Blogger Evil Chasmodian said...

Speaking of light on humor...Whatever happened to Gary McCord? He used to do some on-course commentary (which I really enjoyed) once in a while and I miss him! I like the NBC crew but I wish they would lighten up a bit more, right, Rog?...  


Anonymous Birdie Burrows said...

Why is that whatever channel is covering a major golf championship we only see the US competitiors play?
Take the current US Open at Winged Foot. There are 3 US players in contention. The viewing public are not informed - unless the leader board is analysed that a dozen or so overseas players are also in contention.
NBC focuses on Mickelson, Stricker and Fyurk and almost ignores the rest of the field.
I find this not only frustrating but misrepresentative of the talent on the course.
No wonder that it comes as a surprise that when the USA loses Ryder Cup after Ryder Cup!  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I despise NBC coverage simply due to the fact that they spend more time on flashbacks and various other distractions than they do on the tournaments they cover. I am watching the US open right now and I just whitnessed a single put in between two commercial breaks. They rarely show the full scoreboard during play, giving viewers no way to track they're fav's. They are forced to show more replays than live shots with they're choice in player coverage.
I wish NBC would sell all of their heart felt flashbacks and side stories to the Golf Channel. They'd fit nicely in between some 3am infomercials. When I want to see the US Open, I want to see the US Open damnit.  


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