U.S. Open Coverage Not Up To Par

Photo: Chris White
I know, I know. Apologies for the bad pun there. But that pun wasn’t nearly as bad as how the broadcast of this year’s U.S. Open started off.
The first round of the 115th edition of the event commenced Thursday. FOX Sports won the rights to cover the championship, which just didn’t feel right to me as I sat and watched. I’m used to the NBC or CBS broadcasts and, man, did I miss them. One of my biggest complaints was FOX Sports’ lack of utilizing graphics to indicate which players were on the screen and at which holes they were making their shots. It didn’t help that the announcers failed to say at times which golfers were on screen. It’s like the bigs at FOX Sports woke up a week before the U.S. Open began, forgetting that their network was covering it, and just threw together a broadcast team.

And speaking of the announcers, in what world is it okay to have Joe Buck – who’s known for covering the NFL and MLB – as lead announcer on a golf broadcast? It was clear to me that Buck was out of his league. His fellow broadcasters were not much better. Take Charles Davis, for instance. Yes, Charles Davis, former NFL player-turned-football analyst. For part of the day, Davis had the task of interviewing players who agreed to talk after their rounds – the most notable being Rickie Fowler, who shot a 13-over-par round of 81 on Thursday. The interview started off okay but it seemed like Davis and Fowler just kept talking about the same thing as Davis basically found a new way to say that Fowler had a bad round each time. Davis later admitted on Twitter that he probably kept Fowler a question too long. Going back to Buck, it really didn’t help that he blatantly called out Tiger Woods for not agreeing to do an interview after his horrid round. That’s a big no-no in my book. There’s never a need for that.

For the sake of space, a final point of criticism I’ll give FOX Sports is its overuse of pre-produced video packages. All broadcasts use them but it seemed that FOX Sports was relying on the video packages too much. Two that I saw quite a bit of chatter about on Twitter were on the trains that pass by the Chambers Bay course and Rickie Fowler’s unique sense of style. The train one was dubbed as third grade material by one person on Twitter and the one on Fowler was old news to anyone who casually watches golf. The video packages were shown mostly at inopportune times as well, sacrificing what viewers watch the broadcast for: golf!

I know it’s just FOX Sports’ first year covering the U.S. Open but Thursday’s broadcast is one that the network should really take a close look at and learn from. I’ve seen plenty a golf broadcast in my time and FOX Sports’ U.S. Open broadcast was the worst I’ve seen. Let’s hope Friday and the weekend will be better.

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