I love golf on TV, but is sharing events between broadcasters better?
By the time you read this, the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow will be well underway. For the first time since 2007, you won’t be watching the year’s final major on Sky Sports. Instead we’ll be back for more Peter Alliss and Ken (Brown) on the Course on the Beeb just three weeks removed from Royal Birkdale (or watching a live stream on Facebook or Twitter) – and I can’t wait.
I love Sky Sports’ golf coverage. It’s the best all-round package, with an innovative approach to covering a full tournament week both inside and outside the ropes with a team of (mostly) well-liked experts.
Sky’s Live from the Range is interesting ahead of each day’s play, champions like Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie and Jack Nicklaus are fascinating to hear from and the honesty of Butch Harmon is brilliant (again, mostly) while the extensive, dedicated coverage is hard for any other UK broadcaster to match. Despite full coverage on its Red Button, iPlayer and radio output, the BBC will only show the closing portion of each day’s play on BBC2 this year, which is a missed opportunity.
Though Sky Sports has changed golf coverage in the UK in the last 20-plus years, I wouldn’t want to go down the route of R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers and suggest the BBC’s coverage doesn’t have its merits.
There is something special about golf on the BBC. Alliss is a master of commentary while Ken on the Course is as enlightening as it is hilarious (take this year’s from The Open with Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston as an example).
It is comforting watching golf on the BBC. Rather than the all-singing production of Sky Sports and its unrelenting advertising breaks, the unbroken BBC coverage is a golfing delight with just the slightest of interruptions from Allis and co. Though I wouldn’t be keen on only having the BBC’s coverage over a full year – I’d miss wrap-around coverage and all the extras – going back to something simpler and more relaxing is going to be brilliant.
The mixture of the two is the perfect world I suppose. While I love the high production values and huge team Sky brings to golf, I equally enjoy the quirky, old-fashioned feel of golf on the BBC.
Unfortunately, I fear it will not last long. Top-tier sport is tough to keep on free-to-air TV for very long and I have no doubts Sky and the PGA of America will come to a multi-year, multi-million pound deal before we’re back for the final major of 2018. But that won’t stop me sitting down to hear long-winded stories from Alliss on Sunday evening for a second time this summer – and hoping for more of the same in years to come.