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GolfTube: ‘Bear Trap’ gets prime slot on Golf Channel’s weekend coverage

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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PGA National / Getty Images

Sizing up the TV coverage from the Honda Classic ... and away we go.

It wasn't exactly March Madness coverage with shots of every tournament game on one screen, but Saturday and Sunday's coverage of the "Bear Trap" on the Golf Channel provide viewers with a unique view of the tournament's famed three-hole stretch (15, 16, 17) at PGA National.

The only problem was you had to listen to the Golf Channel's Gary Williams and Frank Nobilo utter the words "Bear Trap" every 5 seconds, and after watching two hours of coverage leading up to NBC going on the air, the thought of hearing the nickname over and over again may have been too much for some viewers to handle.

While the Bear Trap references came in droves, the additional coverage of the three-hole stretch on the Golf Channel was the perfect compliment to NBC's weekend slot, as the network's banded together -- don't you love network synergy? -- to produce some comprehensive coverage from the Honda Classic.

With Johnny Miller and Dan Hicks on NBC duty, the Golf Channel let Gary Williams take a week off from his "Morning Drive" duties, as he and Frank Nobilo provided an inside look at the Bear Trap with three hours of live coverage from the 15th, 16th and 17th holes on Saturday and Sunday.

The network even had Phil Parkin covering the holes from the course. How Bear Trap centric was the coverage, you ask? Put it this way: There was Bear Trap leaderboard (that only complied scores for the Bear Trap) and stats splashed across the screen for how each player fared over the three-hole stretch.

"This is very interesting what we're doing here, " Williams said. "The idea that three holes in a row can be this compelling, and why are they compelling? One, because they're hard; two, because conviction is such a big word in the game of golf, you have to commit to what you're doing on these holes. It's be interesting to see the players go through this three-hole stretch."

It seemed like a hard sell, but if you were already watching Bear Trap coverage on the Golf Channel over the leaders on NBC, then you obviously didn't need to be sold on the draw of watching the same holes over and over again.

Frank Nobilo even tried to give viewers an idea of why covering the Bear Trap made sense, from a network perspective.

"Normally we're sort of following the leaders as they just plod their way around the course," Nobilo said. "But you're getting a chance to see everyone on the golf course, people that don't necessarily have their best game out there trying to play three very daunting holes. ... But if you want to look at three holes that can destroy a round, I defy anyone to find three holes that are better positioned than these at PGA National."

It was like a tournament within a tournament, which seems silly when you think about it. But in all honesty, it really worked. Williams and Nobilo did an admirable job keeping viewers engaged during the broadcast -- especially when all they had to talk about was three holes and a bunch players nowhere near the lead.

It's not exactly split-screen coverage, but NBC and Golf Channel partnering together for additional coverage makes sense when you have a stretch of holes -- or a particular hole -- that can draw people in and stand on its own.

The add-on won't work every week, but if NBC and Golf Channel could somehow find a way to make it part of the coverage a couple times a year, it would certainly be a nice compliment to the weekly broadcast.

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