Thanks to Richard Deitsch at SI.com for including me in this column. He asked veteran golf watchers to make suggestions on how to improve its U.S. Open coverage.
Here’s what I wrote:
Forget about the individuals, although Holly Sonders showed she isn’t ready for prime time. The biggest item on Fox’s to-do list is addressing the overall production. Too often, the telecasts felt disjointed. There were several glitches, way too many baffling decisions, and a general lack of seamless flow that viewers have come to expect from NBC and CBS.
For instance, NBC golf producer Tommy Roy isn’t showing an interview with Louie Oosthuizen with Dustin Johnson getting ready to hit the paramount approach on 18. Viewers would have gotten Johnny Miller’s complete breakdown of the shot.
There is a steep learning curve in airing an unwieldy event like a U.S. Open. Fox and producer Mark Loomis need to learn quickly if they want to step up their game for the 2016 U.S. Open.
And from some of the others. Neil Best of Newsday:
First of all, Fox should keep all of the technical gizmos and gimmicks it rolled out, with some tweaks, because most or all of them worked, especially the enhanced on-course audio. Joe Buck proved he can toggle from football and baseball to golf seamlessly, but he might have to be a tad more hands-on guiding a hodgepodge crew of analysts in the right journalistic direction. Greg Norman, the lead analyst, has the personality and knowledge to make a go of this, but he’ll need to learn to speak up at important times. For example when a guy faces a putt on the 72nd hole to win the U.S. Open, then faces a putt to tie the U.S. Open, then faces a putt to lose the U.S. Open.
Dick Friedman, SI Golf Plus.
Better casting. You need not only strong, distinctive views but also strong, distinctive voices. Most important: You need a foil for Greg Norman (and it shouldn’t be Joe Buck, who has enough to do). A big part of NBC’s success was having Roger Maltbie (or Gary Koch) stand up to Johnny Miller, often humorously. On munis all over America, hackers amuse themselves imitating Johnny and Rog: “Looks like it breaks right about three feet, Rog.” “Well, John, actually it goes left about six feet.” (Doesn’t take much to make us hackers crack ourselves up.)