How The LPGA And Its Players Could Make Good… Better

I spent several hours of my life the past four days watching LPGA Tour golf on the Golf Channel. A good portion of it was enjoyable, some of it unsatisfactory, and all of it got me thinking. I’ve been in the truck. I know how hard producing a golf tournament for television is but this post is not about critiquing what I watched the past four days. It is a list of some things I think the LPGA and its players could do to make the product more palatable… at least for me.

 

Start Scheduling More Diverse Events

No professional golf tour would benefit more from a schedule that included a variety of formats. It would create some buzz, give sportswriters and pundits a reason to discuss the LPGA in a different way. Put together team events, play different formats, finish on Saturday or Monday. No tour works social media like the LPGA and this would give them more reasons to get messaging out.

 

Stop Marking EVERY Putt Longer Than Six Inches

Few things bog down a telecast or create slow pace of play optics than players putting a coin down behind every putt left for birdie, par, bogey or double. I watched better than 10 hours of LPGA golf the past four days and maybe saw a handful of putts longer than 6 inches brushed in without due delay by a professional golfer. I NEVER saw a player use the toe, the heel or the back of her putter to accomplish the goal. For goodness sake check the both the line and the through line of your fellow competitor then figure out a way to finish the hole. Keep your coin in your pocket or stuck to the magnetic thingy on your cap.

 

Start Having The Leaderboard Appear At The TOP Of The Page When You Log On To LPGA.com

Before the broadcast came on I wanted to check the status of a few of my favorite players so I logged on to lpga.com. The first thing that appeared was a picture and a headline, then some add, then some options for video. Not knowing I had to continue to scroll down, I hit the menu button then chose “leaderboard”. During a tournament competition I want to know scores so please make that the first thing I see when I log on to the website during competition days.

 

Stop Letting Caddies Line Up Players

You, as an organization, can do this without waiting for the governing bodies to rewrite or write a overarching, sweeping rule of golf. Work with them to institute a local rule each week, or take it upon yourself to start handing out hundred dollar fines, or figure out something else, but make it a priority. It looks terrible on TV and to some sends a message that the players aren’t capable of lining themselves up over a golf shot. Can there be worse optics for a professional athlete? Producers and viewers love to see and hear caddies and players discuss conditions, club selection and strategy but once that discussion is over the only person we should see on the screen is the athlete. Gerina Piller didn’t seem to lining up, I contend none of them do.

 

Start A Discussion With Your Television Partners About Employing Auto Racing Style “Side-By-Side” Coverage

When NASCAR or INDY Car racing does this it’s brilliant. I get to keep watching a sport that has continuous action live. Racing certainly lends itself to this technique but golf is even more appropriate. There are no caution flags in stroke play golf. The ONLY times there is NO action happening in a golf telecast is when there is a weather delay or only one group or pairing left on the course. It’s been tried on a couple of occasions in golf but for some reason it never stuck. Make it stick. Stop inviting me to watch something else especially on the closing holes during a final round.

 

Start Hoping Someone OTHER Than Lydia Ko Starts Winning Tournaments In Bunches

For my money Lexi Thompson is fun to watch, Michelle Wie is impossible not to watch, Lydia Ko is unwatchable. Ko is undoubtedly an amazing talent and an historic winner but she is painfully slow and uninteresting. Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore make great paint but nobody wants to see it applied and fewer still want to stick around to watch it dry. I produced events when the great Annika Sorenstam was winning all the time. Nobody ever accused her of being as telegenic as Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods but Lydia Ko makes even Annika look like Christina Kim. I’m not suggesting you do or say anything to her (although there was absolutely NO reason for the Golf Channel to show almost every shot she hit on Sunday) just say a little prayer to the golf gods that Wiesy, or Paula, or Lexi or Gerina Piller for that matter start collecting trophies at a more consistent clip.

 

For me any one of these things would make the time I spend in front of my TV watching LPGA golf more enjoyable. All of them would be a bonanza.

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
This entry was posted in general observations, Golf, golf on tv, sports and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s