Date: July 20, 2018
Author: Mark Hayes

OPINION: Time for truly remote TV

First, a pre-emptive apology: I’m not potting the TV coverage of this Open Championship, nor any other key international tournament.

Having dipped a toe into that world from a purely commentary perspective – as opposed to production – I have witnessed the problems of distilling so much action into a workable, followable telecast.


Isn’t it time we, as an industry, were able to package a product that ALL golf fans wanted to see?

Second, some more acknowledgments …

Golf is easily the single hardest mainstream sport to cover on television. Its vast playing fields offer TV crews often insurmountable challenges, especially with many tournaments played on shoestring budgets.

At any one time, there are approaching 100 athletes engaged in action with balls flying hundreds of metres at speeds approaching 300km/h.

You need stupid amounts of air time (read sponsors) to cover it all; you need up to 10 times the number of cameras than an elite game of football might require; and on and on it goes.


Can a major championship, such as the Open with an extraordinary 14 hours of live coverage on days one and two, focus on a handful of players and expect the masses to be fully informed and content?

Can this fabulous tournament, in many golfing minds the showpiece of our sport, crank out wall-to-wall coverage for a global audience, yet only maintain a myopic focus on 2-4 groups?

And now some more realities …

The world wants to see Tiger Woods. We get it. Same applies to Sergio Garcia and Phil Mickelson. On it.

It’s easy to roll out the niceties – slow-motion replays, hole graphics, aerial images, etc – when your coverage is slowed to follow just a handful of groups.

We all-too-well know that the US of A and Europe (did you know they play for the Ryder Cup this year?!?) will produce the biggest names and therefore hog the majority of the limelight.

And we know, this week at least, it’s a British production, so if there’s a choice between Tommy Fleetwood and Jason Day, we will see the Englishman who’s played really well this year and won ONCE; who knows, he might even win on the west side of the Atlantic at some point?

SORRY!!! Particularly to you, Tommy. I actually really like you, but you just became collateral damage.

I’m becoming twisted and need to lose my Australian bias to make my point.

Which is this …

Surely we must soon get to the point where we can pick and choose which holes and players we watch on our own personalised coverage.

Absolutely full credit to Fox Sports for running a dedicated Open channel this week – it’s absolutely tremendous and deserves way more than the muted respect it’s often given because of the nature and take-up of subscription television in Australia.

But bar about half an hour on night one of the coverage where Marc Leishman lit up the front nine of Carnoustie, we saw about 14 Australian strokes all night. About one per hour on average. And none, as far as I could see, of Davis, Herbert or Jones.

Worse if you are a Kiwi or Japanese or even South African, despite that nation’s brilliant depth and having so many players in contention.

The Open has the most brilliant democratic and global method of qualification, but in my humble opinion, then lets down those same audiences by not allowing those same audiences to follow their favourites.

To the host network’s credit, it manages to show spectacular shots or golfing tragedies with only minutes delay as producers doubtless sift in anonymity through thousands of shots to find the most memorable.

Which means one thing: ALL shots must be being filmed.

So again, is there something stopping us being able to see the ones we want?

Sure, it would be nice to have commentary and the associated explanation of distances and problems confronting players. But I’ll do without it, gladly, to be able to watch two Aussie debutants – Davis and Herbert – take their first strides in this spectacular event.

To me, as I start to deteriorate into a sook as this progresses, I have limited interest in watching Tiger’s playing partners cobble together rounds of 76, even if there’s an on-course commentator alongside them.

And I was nothing short of flummoxed when the app coverage of holes 8-10 peeled away seconds before a Davis putt so the (British) commentators could relay a story of Tom Lewis’ childhood as he strode a fairway en route to a 75.

Judging by Twitter, I’m not alone either.

But rather than me just bleat, what would you like to see?

And do you think your solution is technologically achievable? And at a workable price?

There’s SO much good about what’s on offer – it just seems a pity to me that we haven’t collectively found a way to take it to the masses in a way they want it.

The Open deserves it. Golf deserves it.