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GolfTube: Excessive commercials, Tiger coverage, and time-wasting

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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Sizing up the TV coverage from the PGA Championship ... and away we go.

There are plenty of ways to kill a compelling major championship telecast, but the worst of all has to be commercials in the middle of the action. CBS has been notorious for cutting away from the on-course action for a commercial break, but on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, they took the mountain of worthless commercials to a whole new level.

As Golfweek's Martin Kaufman noted on Saturday, viewer got a ratio of 5 to 3 during the third round, which meant viewers saw five golf shots for every 3 commercials, a sickening ratio at a major championship. Quite honestly, that ratio may have been even worse on Sunday.

We've already has already discussed the network's time-wasting antics in the past, but apparently CBS didn't get the memo that showing a ratio of 5 to 3 ratio is the kind of thing that will not only turn off casual viewers, but even the most avid golf fans as well.

One quick peek at Twitter during the telecast made it clear that showing endless Omega, Southwest Airlines, and "low T" commercials is the absolute worst way to endear yourself to viewers.

It's impossible to predict a tournament's overnight ratings, but based on the number of commercials and network promotions, one would have to imagine CBS was trying to save face by loading up the broadcast with ads and previews of fall shows.

Who knows for sure if the plan really worked, but based on the viewers' outrage during the third and fourth rounds, it's clear fans didn't appreciate the decision.

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Excessive Tiger coverage

When do you pull the plug on the Tiger Woods coverage during a major championship? That's a question most producers haven't had to answer over the years, but on Friday afternoon, many viewers had to wonder if it was worth showing a struggling Woods when he was 10-over, for the week, and on the verge of missing the cut.

"Tiger Woods has lost it," TNT's Ian Baker-Finch said during the round.

Sure, Woods had "lost it," but the same could have been said for TNT when they made the call to keep coming back to Woods during his round. Look, I get it: everyone wants to see Tiger struggle. But the struggles he was having on Friday made the coverage of his worthless round seem beyond excessive.

We knows he's dealing with swing issues and looked like a shell of his former self, but there's no reason to waste perfectly good coverage by showing every one of Woods' shots. His fate was already sealed at that point.

It almost would have made more sense to show some of the guys charging up the leaderboard, and then the last hole of two of his round. But as we've seen in the past, Woods is the reason casual viewers sit on the couch to watch a major.

"Hope the TV coverage improves now that Tiger has MCed," Diane Donald, Luke Donald's wife, tweeted. "Would be nice if they showed the ppl who were contending. More interesting that way."

Don't worry, Diane, you got your wish and received a full TWO rounds of golf coverage without a single live shot of Woods. Sure, majors aren't the same when Tiger's not in the mix, but there has to be a line where coverage of everyone's favorite (or hated) golfer goes from being must-see TV to excessive.

TNT's Friday coverage of Woods was definitely excessive.

The hard sell

Trying to sell the casual viewer on a Keegan Bradley-Jason Dufner battle seemed like a tall task going into the playoff at the PGA Championship, but CBS's crew tried to do its best to let you know that just because Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson weren't in the finish, that didn't mean you had to flip to the next channel.

"[For Keegan Bradley] to win his very first major is a fantastic story," said Ian Baker-Finch, following the final putt of the playoff. And after watching both players stuff shots within six feet on the first playoff hole, David Feherty proclaimed that despite most fans knowing only a handful of names, every player on tour is one hell of a golfer. "These guys are all good," David Feherty proclaimed.

Despite the hard sell, CBS really didn't need to force either player down viewers' throats. Both were playing at an incredibly high level already, and put on quite a show in the three-hole playoff. Sometimes it's better to just sit back and let the drama unfold by itself.

AAC member analyzes Phil Mickelson's compaints

Phil Mickelson's comments about Rees Jones' redesign hurting the membership at Atlanta Athletic Club put TNT in an interesting position during second round coverage.

With Atlanta Athletic Club member, and TNT broadcaster, Jim Huber in the booth during the tournament, the network gave Huber a couple minutes to discuss Mickelson's issue with Jones' redesign, and the effects it had on the membership.

"It's rare that the players go to a golf club and feel sorry for the members, but that is what has happened here at [Atlanta Athletic Club] this week with Phil Mickelson," Huber said in an essay piece. "He and architect Rees Jones have had a bit of a running dustup for years now, and its come to a boil this summer at Congressional and now here."

While Huber appreciated Phil sticking up for the casual member, he didn't feel it was necessary for one reason: the membership doesn't play the course at the tournament yardage.

" ... What is lost in his critique is that the course he's talking about is a completely different one than the membership plays. Most of us aren't that suicidal, and usually play the course about 1,000 yards shorter. That said, even with Mickelson calling it great for the championship, one wonder what his mindset is when he plays a Rees Jones design course."

Huber gave some actual insight from the perspective of a current member, and in the end, made Mickelson's complaint seem rather frivolous. If a member at the course isn't complaining, chances are good others are probably doing the very same thing.

Tiger Woods gets analyzed from every different angle

TV talking heads are paid to criticize and analyze golfers during a broadcast (see: Miller, Johnny), so it should come as a surprise that Tiger Woods was analyzed from every angle during his two rounds.

While commentators are used to talking up his chances of breaking Jack's record and discussing his flawless swing, most have spent the last couple years talking about the decline of Woods' career, and his struggles with Sean Foley's swing.

Thursday and Friday and the PGA Championship were no different, as CBS's Peter Kostis tried to build up the importance of Woods' round -- even though he was already out of the tournament picture.

"I think this might be a defining round for Tiger Woods," Peter Kostis said, prior to the start of his second round. "He was so angry, he held it in during his press conference, with his performance yesterday, that today's going to be incredibly important to him."

"It feels like a tipping point," David Feherty said.

And of course, what broadcast isn't complete without some insight into a Woods interview! It's a must these days, right?

"Yeah, it was a very honest interview," Baker-Finch said. "He gave more information than he normally would. Tiger looks out of sorts, and he has to go figure out what's going on -- if it's his swing, mental or both, everything's on that downward slope. It's a slippery slope, I can tell you, and it's very hard to fight back up that slippery slope."

"Billy's Course" a big waste of time

If there's one thing golf viewers seem to complain about on a weekly, it's time-wasting and excessive commercials. There's not much we can do about the commercials -- they pay for the broadcast -- but there's something that can be done about the worthless special interest pieces that get throw in during the round.

I've seen some bad spots, but "Billy's Course" could be the worst. TNT's Billy Kratzert was charged with the job of doing a spot that recapped some of the biggest moments in PGA Championship history, including Sergio's famous blind shot at Medinah; the Tiger Woods-YE Yang battle Hazeltine; and Dustin Johnson's bunker blunder at Whistling Straits.

They're all worth mentioning in a piece, but TNT went too far by superimposing Kratzert into each moment, so it looked like he was there standing with Dustin when he was hitting out of the bunker, or next to Yang before his chip-in eagle on the 14th.

It was just too much. I understand we live in a world where technology is king, but there's no need to superimpose a guy into a famous moment. It looked forced, and just plain silly.

Get it right, CBS

CBS also had issues with simple names. Case in point: Brendan Steele. His name was butchered on numerous occasions -- calling him "Brandon" -- on Saturday and Sunday.

Feherty called him "Brandon" again within minutes of his final round tee time. Sure, he's a relative no-name to most fans, but as the network covering the tournament, CBS has to get that name right.

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