Devil Ball Golf - Golf

Sizing up the TV coverage from the Northern Trust Open ... and away we go.

It continues to blow my mind that the PGA Tour doesn't have a stricter rules policy when it comes to the slow pace of play. The Northern Trust Open was the latest example, as golfers took upward of 5 hours and 15 minutes to play a round of golf.

The pace wasn't lost on The Golf Channel crew, who questioned the pace on a couple of occasions. One of the bottlenecks happened to be on the par-4 10th, a drivable hole that had many going at the green from the tee.

The Golf Channel's Peter Oosterhuis brought up a good question during Thursday's first round: Why weren't the players playing the hole like the 17th at TPC Scottsdale?

"Brandel, are you surprised they aren't waving guys up like they were on the 17th at TPC Scottsdale?" Oosterhuis said.

Chamblee, ever the diplomat, tried to blame the slow pace on some poor golf shots: "Yeah, I am," Chamblee said. "But I think these guys are in such a plight, that all they were worrying about was getting out the Band-Aids and Neosporin and getting to the next hole."

Let's be honest, the pace of play is a problem. It's making it nearly impossible to get all the rounds done in one day, and causing networks to cutoff the coverage before everyone is off the course. This is a problem, and it continues to get worse each week. Somebody needs to fix it, and fast.

More follows ...

Cutting away from coverage ... again 

CBS has a growing propensity for cutting away from coverage before the end of the round. The past few weeks have included cutting away while the final group was putting out on the last hole, and closing the end of the tournament coverage in a hurried manner.

Saturday, the network cut away while the final group still had five holes left to play. Quite honestly, this nonsense is getting really tiresome. CBS starts 15-plus minutes late, due to college basketball coverage, and then can't get the entire round in within the coverage time frame.

While this week's cutoff was due in large part to the slow play at Riviera, it still amazes me that the network is completely fine cutting away from coverage for the local news or infomercials, but wouldn't dare do that if a basketball game was on.

It goes to show you how much CBS values its golf coverage.

Golf Channel wasn't any better, cutting away for the wrap-up show with players still on the course. Honestly, do you really have something better to show me than live golf coverage for an extra 30 minutes? I don't think so.

Paging the mic'd up golfers

Golf Channel's idea to mic up the players during coverage is looking as good as CBS's decision to show early FedEx Cup rankings in February (more on this later), which is to say it's failing to impress.

The last time the network had any mic'd up coverage was three weeks ago at the Farmer Insurance Open. The idea is something tour pros clearly have no interest in doing.

Ryan Palmer was a dud, as was Davis Love III; it makes you wonder why The Golf Channel doesn't scrap the idea altogether.

At the moment, the network just looks silly waiting for a pro to play guinea pig and use the mic. They may want to consider stealing a page from CBS's "Inside the Ropes" and just putting a boom mic near the players.

CBS caught a lot more of the lighthearted moments with its mic. Why can't The Golf Channel put together something like this?

Tenth talk

As expected, both The Golf Channel and CBS raved about the drivable par-4 10th hole, considered by some to be the best short par-4 in the world.

It definitely left an impression on some of the announcers that had the privilege of playing the hole in the past: "In my opinion, it's the best short par-4 in the world," said Brandel Chamblee. "It's a risk and reward hole that really sneaks up on you. Guys think they can just pull out driver and bomb it up there. But you really have to be careful and place the shot in the correct position."

Chamblee went on to describe some of the subtle nuisances that make the hole so special: "Not what you envision when you walk to the 10th hole. The great thing about this hole is, as players have gotten longer, it's made some of these short par 4s and par 5s obsolete. But this one has stood out because of the green design. And when you go for it, there's a very short window of opportunity where you get a good look at this green."

Stop with the FedEx Cup updates 

CBS continues to show FedEx Cup updates throughout the round, something that completely infuriates me every time I see them. Why do we care where these guys stand in the rankings when the four-leg finale isn't until August?

Why not go the route of the BCS and debut some sort of rankings during the last few months of the season? Give me something, anything, that at least makes me excited about the FedEx Cup.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that doesn't care about the points updates.

Fred's back

While Couples had a comeback of sorts at the Northern Trust, the talk late in Sunday's final round was about his back. It seemed like everyone at CBS was waiting for Freddy to double over and be carted off. At least that's what Gary McCord and David Feherty thought, as Couples bent down to mark his ball on the 16th hole.

"He always gets me nervous when he bends over to mark that ball," McCord said. "He gets his hips really low and goes down really slow."

"It's like one day he won't get back up, and you'll just have to go out there and cart him off," Feherty said.


The Golf Channel did a featured group during Thursday and Friday's rounds. It was the pairing of Bubba Watson, Anthony Kim and Fred Couples in the first round, and Mark Wilson, Jim Furyk and Matt Kuchar in the second round. ...  Interesting note during Friday's round from Brandel Chamblee, who mentioned that the ball tends to sit up on the grass at Riviera -- something that plays to Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald's strength of picking the ball off the turf. ... Saturday's third-round coverage on CBS started 15 minutes late, due to the end of a college basketball game and its ridiculous postgame show. Another week, another tournament with a late-coverage start. I'm starting to see a trend here. ... After raving about Pebble's greens last week, CBS's David Feherty raved about Riviera's greens, saying they were in the best condition he'd ever seen.


"Fred Couples has been jumpier than a box of frogs," CBS's David Feherty, commenting on Couples' affinity for moving around so much during the round. 

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