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Jonathan Wall

GolfTube: The silence of the links

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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There was a moment in Golf Channel's Saturday telecast of the Boise Open where, if you had just stumbled onto the coverage, you could've sworn you'd stepped into the twilight zone.

Golf was being played on television, but the live coverage came sans commentary in the background. And to top it off, Kirk Triplett was playing a round of golf while wearing ... a baseball cap? Seriously, when was the last time you saw Triplett play a round without his staple bucket hat, as at right?

While we still don't have an answer for the bucket hat mystery, the Golf Channel did have an answer for the silent golf coverage on Saturday afternoon.

Hoping to shake up the tour coverage during the off week before Tour Championship, the execs at the Golf Channel decided to do something completely different for one day only at the Boise Open: they decided to mute the tournament commentary.

The usual on-course banter between commentators Jerry Foltz and Curt Byrum was replaced for the afternoon by the sounds of Mother Nature, as well as little bit of commentary from the players and caddies, compliments of the mic'ed up players in the event.

Silence always takes some getting used to, especially when you're accustomed to turning on the television set and listening to talking heads like Johnny Miller critique a player's every move.

But for those fans who'd been clamoring for more golf and less talk, Saturday's third round gave the best glimpse yet of what the game could look like if networks started giving the viewers exactly what they wanted.

As promised, the Golf Channel showed all on-course coverage without commentary, choosing to periodically go to a makeshift booth on the course for Foltz and Byrum's opinions on what they'd seen over the last 10-15 minutes.

The rest of the coverage was spent in silence showing shots from the course. If anything, the coverage forced fans at home to make up their own opinion on why a player was clubbing up or down on certain holes.

While it was a great gimmick for the afternoon, there were times during the telecast where a comment or a bit of insight would have been nice. And at the end of the day, that's the main reason why a silent telecast wouldn't work for most major networks.

Sure, most networks could do without all the bells and whistles, but there's still something to be said for a good on-course commentary. Gary McCord, while sometimes annoying, adds another level to the telecast. He also gives the media and casual fan something to talk about on Monday.

While the silence was indeed golden at times, there was something missing from Saturday's telecast, and that's the insight fans have come to expect when they turn on the television to watch a tour event.

You made your point, Golf Channel; we can't live without your on-course commentary. But we sure could do with a little more golf action and less mindless chatter.

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