Robotic bunker cameras among the CBS tech stockpile at the PGA Championship

·2 min read

CBS Sports is embarking on its 38th year—and 31st in a row—of televising the PGA Championship.

The event is the second men’s major of the 2021 calendar year.

“We like having the first two major championships on CBS,” Sean McManus, Chairman of CBS Sports, said in a Zoom call with reporters. His network has long carried the Masters, which is in April. The PGA’s move to May gives the network two in a row.

Needless to say, television broadcast technology has changed as much as golf equipment over the years.

At its disposal at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina, CBS has a stockpile of gadgets: live drones, fly cams, 4D replays, the Atlas cam, Toptracer, SwingVision and anemometers, measuring wind speed and direction, paired with on-screen graphics.

PGA Championship
PGA Championship

A drone flies over the course as Brendan Steele walks during the first round of the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort’s Ocean Course on May 20, 2021 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Perhaps the most intriguing tech for Kiawah are the two robotic cameras that have been installed inside the bunkers on the 17th hole.

The par-3 hole plays about 220 yards and has been called by some one of the most difficult holes in golf. Wyndham Clark may have aced it the first time he played it, but for most, it’s the ‘ultimate test of nerve.’

“There is water right, bailout is left. The bunkers have a massive lip, on them both of them,” said CBS lead golf producer Sellers Shy the week before the championship. “We plan on planting them [the cameras] right in that lip. We’re hoping we’ll be able to cover the entire space of each one of them.”

How the hole will be played will obviously change over the four days, depending on the players, the tees, the pin placement and the wind.

PGA Championship: Leaderboard | Photos | How to watch

“I think when the pin’s in the front, the bailout will be in the front-left bunker. When the pin is in the back, the bailout will be back left.”

The bottom line?

“Both bunkers will have plenty of action,” Shy said.

It won’t just be the 17th on the Pete and Alice Dye design that will test golfers.

“It’s not an easy golf course. It’s 7,876 [yards], the longest in Championship history,” Shy said.

PGA Championship
PGA Championship

4D cameras ring a tee box at the 103rd PGA Championship. Photo by CBS Sports

The last time

Kiawah last hosted the PGA Championship in 2012, which was won by Rory McIlroy.

It was then that CBS TV technology helped locate a ball McIlroy hit that ended up in a tree.