Date: October 15, 2012
Author: Ewan Porter / Golf Australia

Ewan Porter blog: time for our own Golf Channel?

Much has been made this year of golf’s biggest championships being broadcast only on pay television in Australia. The recent announcement by Golf Australia that Channel 7 will be showcasing our national championship in December is a positive step in the right direction for golf in this country. Within the past few days, I returned home from the United States where golf is placed on an extremely high pedestal. Golf tragics are able to feed their insatiable appetite by having a 24 hour channel dedicated entirely to programs centered around the sport. The Golf Channel was founded by the legendary Arnold Palmer in the mid 90 s and has since become home to all aspects related to the game. Here in Australia, a trend has developed on our television screens where gradually, more and more golf is being shown to the viewers. These programs include tournaments from around the globe alongside various packages highlighting the prominence of golf. Fox Sports has introduced the AFL Channel (Fox Footy) within the past few years which is 24 hours based solely on that sport. Sure, there are plenty of repeated telecasts but it s still going strong and caters for the public s demands. Golf is more highly participated than AFL and a downward trend in the popularity of our sport in Australia, I believe, over the past few years has been directly attributed in part to the negative press or lack there of by the top media outlets. As I write this article, Fox Sports 2 has featured only golf on its network today and it s now 10pm. Men and women, seniors, Asia, Europe and the United States have all been covered to some extent. Is this a sign of what is to come in the future? Earlier this year, I ventured to Hong Kong. During my stay there, I became aware that they possess a 24 hour Golf Channel that consists predominately of material from the same network in the United States with a lower percentage of the programs featuring both local coverage and advertisements. There is a total population in Hong Kong of just over 7 million. We have 15 million more people, so the question must be asked as to why shouldn t Australia boast the same product? In Australia, we, the general public, are fed golf-related articles and features for an approximate period of two months every year. This generally consists of the four major championships and our summer of golf. For the other months, the sport takes a considerable back seat to the football codes. In June, Victorian Marc Leishman, produced a scintillating victory in the Travelers Championship on the US PGA Tour. In the following days Daily Telegraph in Sydney, there was a small column 17 pages inside the back page briefly detailing his victory. In my opinion, the negativity displayed towards golf from the heavyweights of Australia s media is what initially sparked the downward spiral. Last year, interest boomed when we played host to a summer schedule not likely to be replicated anytime in the near future. But my underlying issue is that golf should be on display more frequently throughout the year and thus at the forefront of our minds on a more regular basis. Should Fox Sports create a channel solely dedicated to golf lovers, the population of our game would instantly grow. There really isn t a valid excuse as to why this shouldn t be the case. As mentioned, a nation much smaller in Hong Kong has a golf channel, we have an AFL network and that is a sport that really only has a strong culture in one, maybe two states. Golf ticks all the right boxes for Australia to be the next nation to incorporate this move. Similar to the US Golf Channel, there should be live coverage of golf tournaments from across the globe, highlight packages from these events, infomercials and ideally, a couple of new and exciting Australia-based programs. There s a strong enough band of supporters for this idea and for the sake of golf enthusiasts in our homeland, I sincerely hope those in charge of our networks share the same views. Ewan Porter is an Australian professional golfer who most recently played on the Tour in the United States. He won twice on that Tour – the 2008 Moonah Classic and the 2010 South Georgia Classic and is a freelance columnist for His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. You can follow him on Twitter: @ewanports