It was an interesting weekend, to say the least, for the PGA Tour. While the Turning Stone Championship was announcing its departure from the Fall series and the 2011 schedule -- apparently, the event wanted a stand-alone date in either June, July or August in the weeks leading up to or following a major championship- - Tim Finchem was pushing the tour into unchartered territory.
As hard as it is to believe, last week's CIMB Asia Pacific Classic was the first tour-sanctioned event on international soil. The tournament in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was placed smack-dab in the middle of the Fall Series, two weeks before the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Disney -- which marks the end to the 2010 schedule -- and a week before the HSBC event in China.
With the Golf Channel moving the Nationwide Tour Championship into the spotlight, the CIMB was relegated to also-ran status, getting a two-hour time slot -- the final round was run on tape-delay from 7:30-9:30 p.m. ET Saturday -- that would have been better suited for a college football game.
While Tim Finchem continues to press the issue of adding international events to the tour schedule in the coming years, last week's telecast was a clear example of why events like the CIMB will never be staples on the tour schedule until the networks can come up with a broadcast formula that works.
Case in point: the staff covering this week's event for the Golf Channel. Nobody can blame the network for sending a skeleton crew to Malaysia; it didn't make financial sense to send the usual suspects clear across the world to an event that didn't count as official money on the PGA Tour.
With Steve Sands and Frank Nobilo in the booth, the duo tried their best to paint a picture of the Mines Resort & Golf Club -- a course neither seemed to know much about. At times in the telecast, it seemed like the commentators were almost guessing at where the ball might end up.
Maybe it would have made sense to have someone with a little more knowledge of the Asian Tour in the booth.
Just like the decision to bring Sands and Nobilo along, the move to have Matt Gogel handle on-course commentary was somewhat questionable. While Asian Tour expert Dom Boulet had the background and the knowledge of the course, Gogel seemed lost at times, leaving the coverage with some dead air that seemed extremely awkward.
Boulet, on the other hand, was well worth the addition last week, giving viewers more than enough on some of the Asian players in the field. He also did a great job setting the course up for viewers at home.
Like most things, international coverage on the PGA Tour could be a game-changer for the Golf Channel. Assuming these events become a mainstay in the future, it may actually make sense to bring in a crew that has a greater knowledge of the courses and players in the field.