We love to hate Sky
Over the past few years on multiple occasions we have panned Sky Sports Golf.
I like to think it’s not so much that we hate what they do, more than we want the very best coverage on the game we love, when we pay our money and sit at home on a Sunday evening.
So anyway, rather than ignore us, Nick, one of the producers at Sky Sports Golf, invited me in on a Sunday evening to see exactly how they put the show together and make up my own mind… fair play to him!
This ain't one guy and a camera
The first thing you notice is just how many people there are in there.
In total there must have been like 25 including producer, director, pundits, camera operators, sound guys as well as Nick Dougherty and a couple of guys out in Memphis covering the St Jude Classic.
Apparently that is one of four levels of production they have ranging from a one hour highlight package to all guns blazing at a major.
This was somewhere in between. They had Rob Lee, David Howell and Denis Pugh in the studio in London, with my boy Dougherty out by the Sky Cart grabbing players.
But the mad thing is with all those people they are so dependent on the US feed coming through being decent. A feed on Sunday that was Golf Channel in the earlier part before a half hour break and then NBC afterwards.
The half hour break needed to be filled and both networks seemed to go to ad breaks loads, often with very little warning, meaning Nick the producer had to think very fast to get something on our screens. It was seriously impressive to be fair.
I thought to myself in his shoes the viewer would be watching Lawn Bowls or Italy vs Liechtenstein on the other channel in the panic!
In the studio Rob Lee, who I have previously panned, was the anchor. He’d listen to Nick and would often explain what was going on. Tbh it was actually more interesting overhearing him off camera where he was quite funny.
At one point he commented on a three footer Lexi Thompson missed to win on the other screen saying “She should have marked it and it would have been stiff” in reference to Lexi’s questionable marking tekkers.
Oh the japes.
Pugh came across as a proper nice bloke. Came back into the producer's studio and had a chat with me about Twitter and how difficult it was to pick some of the players out wearing all the same gear.
Whilst finally, Howell had a bit of a dry wit, that is probably the reason he is very popular on the circuit and is Player’s Chairman on the European Tour.
The main downside for me was they were all rocking what I would call grey ‘school trousers’ that when sat on the Sky sofa were absolute ankle bashers. Kids in my school got dead legs for wearing stuff like them with their Clarks!
Sky would love to have more control over every tournament with their own cameras but given the fact they cover the European Tour and PGA Tour every week and many LPGA events that makes about 46 weeks straight which when it comes down to it… is prohibitively expensive.
At the moment they are on site for 15 PGA Tour events and obviously step it up for the majors including The Open where their coverage won a BAFTA.
We can all have our opinions on pundits or coverage but I have to be totally honest I do have a newfound respect for what they do and the challenges they face.
The amount of times the US broadcaster would show random American players out of contention or some annoying Floridian woman would screech saying they were cutting to ads for the ninth time in ten minutes… even I started to get pissed off.
The guys who produce the show ain’t just chilling watching golf and they certainly don’t want a playoff when it comes round to midnight on a Sunday whilst you’re all tucked up in bed!
Do I think I would be a better pundit or more entertaining than most of them. Yes, of course. We all like the sound of our own voice…
But I admit, as someone who has done it, it’s easy to sit and criticise from the comfort of your own sofa. I mean if we are doing it about superstar golfers saying we’d knock in that ten footer of course we are going to slag off people talking about the game we love!
Hopefully Sky Sports Golf aren’t afraid to keep innovating, aren’t afraid to take risks and are willing to listen to their fans and customers.
If they do that, then there is no reason another BAFTA won’t be on its way.
You can watch the US Open this week on Sky Sports starting tonight at 7:30pm with a countdown
I'm the Managing Editor at The Club. I like putting and Rioja. I dislike my low slice.