Tell me I’m wrong…but I think that golf is the toughest sport to broadcast.
It’s certainly one of the most challenging to produce. In my former career as a technical director for a TV station, I had the opportunity to talk to many sports producers and directors who had covered different sports. A majority of them highlighted golf as the toughest sport to technically produce because of the physical size of the venue, and the fact you have essentially have 50+ events going on at once. Why that many? You only have 18 holes, however you might have one group on the tee box, another on the fairway and one more on the green.
But what about as a sportscaster? What’s is the toughest sport to call? I still think it’s golf and here are three reasons why:
Similar to the technical side, the volume that accompanies golf is staggering. Upwards of 150 players in the field mean you’re prepping for far more athletes than any other sport that you’d commonly do. You’ve also got to keep up with the play and tell all those stories at once. You’ve got to know what’s happening on the tee box at 16 while also watching the leader save par on 9. You’ve got to relay why each shot is important, what happens if they miss and why the viewer should care.
2. Lack of practice opportunities
Golf, unlike many other sports that young sportscasters get into doesn’t really have a breeding ground of broadcast talent. With football, hockey, baseball and basketball (among many others), you can call games easily at the high school or college level. You simply setup at half way and call the action. It’s all well contained and easy to see everything. However the scope of golf makes it nearly impossible to broadcast without a complicated setup of monitors and crew. Also consider it’s almost exclusively a TV sport, meaning that radio opportunities (which is where many sportscasters cut their teeth) for golf and borderline non-existent.
3. Calling off a monitor
Due to the size of a golf course, you can’t expect to be everywhere at once and it’s impossible to see every shot live. So chances are you’re calling shots and rounds off a monitor. This is a difficult thing to do and can take you out of the atmosphere of the call. You have to show the same enthusiasm and energy for an eagle on 4 when you’re setup above the 18th green. You don’t have a crowd to feed off, you don’t have your angle on the shot, you’re relying on a small monitor and a camera to pick up everything you need.
That’s my reasoning behind why I think golf is the toughest sport to broadcast. It’s a challenge I would love to tackle one day, however that’s a long way off at best.