Reviews for Fox debut on golf: ‘Rough, but not without promising signs’

I caught a few minutes of Fox Sports’ debut on golf Saturday with Greg Norman’s Franklin Templeton Shootout.

Frankly, it’s hard to make much of an assessment with a silly season event. It almost had the feel of a NFL preseason game, with no real juice or drama.

My initial impressions were that the telecast seemed OK. I like Joe Buck and am quite sure he can be a good driver. I also enjoyed hearing Brad Faxon’s analysis. He will be a good addition for Fox.

The jury obviously is way out when it comes to Greg Norman, who will be compared to Johnny Miller. Maybe it was me, but there were a few times when I had trouble hearing him. It seemed like Fox might want to tune up his volume.

This was a dress rehearsal for Fox. It’s probably best to reserve judgment until the crew really steps into the big time at next year’s U.S. Open. Then, as Chris Berman already knows, Fox will hear from the golf critics.

Geoff Shackelford on his site did weigh in with a comprehensive review. He writes:

There must have been a reason Joe Buck opened Fox Sports’ first golf telecast with an apology and a “we’re not worthy” tribute to CBS, NBC and Golf Channel’s production teams. Perhaps someone saw their practice runs and knew day one televising golf was going to be rough around the edges. And it was rough but not without promising signs


Pretty much everything dreaded when USGA moved its championships to Fox Sports was evident in the initial telecast. Way too much Fox bringing attention to themselves and not enough golf. Cheesy attempts at hipster status (Buck declaring “There’s some Fox attitude!” the first time rock and roll was used to commercial). And dated looking graphics employing the chunky Fox font while the Fox logo was on screen at all times yet inexplicably not given a watermark finish. (Branding baby!)

One of a few slightly elevated rear view shots that helped show off the shot players faced. Note the upper right Fox logo. The on-screen logo blends in to a stadium setting but on a golf course? Not so much. And remember, every USGA event highlight of the next 12 years will have that logo. Pretty garrish.

The telecast also displayed glimpses of everything golf fans could hope for with the naming of Mark Loomis as coordinating producer: some fresh efforts to use drones for filming holes more tactfully (not just flying down the center as fast as possible), some excellent rear camera views to better show off course architecture, and most intriguing of all,”Fox Labs” attempts to show green contours and hole locations better.

John Strege at Golf Digest:

Not that too many would notice. Fox chose an inconspicuous vehicle to enter the golf business, the Franklin Templeton Shootout, part of the silly season, or, as anchor Joe Buck called it in deference to the PGA Tour, the Challenge Season. It didn’t have much with which to work. But give the network credit for its opener that included what seemed to be an acknowledgement of the skepticism.

“I realize one thing,” Buck said. “People at home don’t care who’s covering it. They just want to sit on their couch and watch golf. There’s only one real way for us at Fox to start this venture and that is humbly.

“When you get into this situation you realize how hard it is to cover golf and make it look seamless. I want to tip my cap…to the fine folks at CBS and the work of Frank Chirkinian in changing and revolutionizing the way golf is covered on television. And that’s up to present day, whether it’s NBC and Golf Channel, or ABC and ESPN or TNT.

“Right now we are not worthy. Someday maybe we will be. We hope to innovate. We hope to have some fun. But most of all, in the promise we made at Fox to the USGA, is that we’re going to respect this great game.”

Tour Confidential at

SHIPNUCK: For all the hullaballoo, it looked like pretty much every other golf telecast I’ve ever seen. Announcers only occasionally add to my enjoyment, but they can certainly detract from it. I thought Greg Norman did a nice job in his debut, but Joe Buck was trying way, way too hard. He needs to slow his roll going forward.

VAN SICKLE: The training wheels are still on at Fox. It’s too soon to rush to a snap judgment but other than Steve Flesch, it was pretty much amateur hour. I was expecting better, even on the first telecast. We’ll see.

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