The PGA Tour released a revised schedule today for the 2020 season, which was shut down because of coronavirus on March 13. The new scheduled start date is June 11-14 and the season continues through the winter tour.
As the first mainstream/major sports organization to announce it is reopening (sorry MMA/WWE, you don't count), it's huge news around the world and also a massive opportunity for the Tour. All eyes will be on golf when the season kicks off because, frankly, nothing else will be on and people have been clamoring for some form of live sports since this pandemic shut down America a little over a month ago.
With that in mind, the PGA Tour has to nail the presentation of the tournaments to hopefully build a larger fan base that will stick with it even when other sports return. We here at The Big Lead want to help, so we've come up with the following ways to accomplish that goal.
Mic-Up the Caddies
I would say mic-up the players, but let's be honest, caddies are more relatable. They have funnier jokes and a more care-free spirit, and if you don't believe me, you've never spent time in the caddy yard. Get those guys hooked up with the mic and splice in their commentary here and there. It would not only be interesting to hear their discussions with the players about shots (in real-time optimally, but post-shot would still be interesting and probably more realistic), it would also be cool to hear the jokes they tell during the round. And the PGA Tour can curate them so they're PG. Seems like a no-brainer. - Brian Giuffra
Being the only game in town, there will be unprecedented interest in daily fantasy golf. This means viewers will be even more interested in the happenings down the leaderboard. More inclusive graphics showing more positions with greater regularity would be a smart business move. - Kyle Koster
Less Booth Talk
Listen, hearing Jim Nantz and Nick Faldo, or Mike Tirico and Paul Azinger, or whoever else the networks stick in the 18th tower is interesting. I just don't need five minutes of them talking when golf is actually being played, especially down the stretch. Yes, they need to do an intro early in the broadcast to set the stage, but that should be it. Keep the focus on the game, not the people talking about it. - Giuffra
More Shots From More Players
Speaking of more action, one pet peeve of mine is when a guy is 2-3 strokes out of the lead with, say, six holes to play, and you only see like 4-5 of their shots the rest of the way. If someone is in contention, show them playing! They might not be the biggest name on tour and they may not win the tournament, but we're here to watch golf, not a player walking down the fairway or an announcer discussing 10 different ways a player can hit a shot or all that other filler usually shown at the expense of lesser-known players. Keep it focused on all of the action on the course, not only the big names. - Giuffra
Split Screen Shots
You'll notice a theme in my early recommendations and most of them center around seeing more live action. This one seems super obvious. When a player hits a shot, do a split screen of the player watching the shot and the shot itself. I mentioned this in the recap of the 1986 Masters broadcast, and it seems like an easy way to showcase the golfer's personality more as they watch their shot go toward (or away from) the hole. Either way it's good TV because reaction shots in real-time are important. - Giuffra
Wake and Watch
Typically television coverage doesn't kick off until the afternoon. There's no reason to deprive us of any more action than necessary, so let's go ahead and get things popping off during breakfast. Would be cruel and unusual to make people rely on refreshing shot trackers online - Koster
Dedicated Digital Tiger Stream
When Tiger Woods is playing, set up a feed online for people to watch his every move. Use social media to build an audience and watch the people flock. There's only so many more years left with Tiger in his prime (hell, we didn't think we would get this many with his injuries) so better take advantage of it by showing every shot and step the man takes on the course. - Giuffra
Fan Questions From Social Media
Fans will be noticeably absent on the course. Show them you care by giving them a voice in the interview room. Create a social initiative where fans submit questions for players after the round and have players answer them on video, then post them on social media. This will give fans a reason to engage early and stick around until the end. - Giuffra
Grow the Tent
Things have changed and viewership patterns must as well. There will be a wider audience tuning in and their golf acumen won't be as high as traditional viewers. Helping them understand what they're watching and why it's important contextually would ensure they are comfortable and increase the chances they're converted to long-time fans. - Koster
Show Your Heart, But Stay Balanced
If the PGA Tour starts in June as now scheduled, golf will be played while people are still suffering from coronavirus. It's important to acknowledge that by honoring those on the front line and show support by donating to charities that give back to those being impacted. The PGA Tour and its partners have never shied away from discussing their charitable contributions, which will help them here. But at the same time, this is a distraction from what's happening and they'll have to find the balance so people don't feel this is another outlet talking about how tough things are. That balance is not easy to strike, but to truly succeed in these times it needs to be a focus. - Giuffra