Here is a sentence I didn’t think I’d be typing on Sunday of March Madness; I watched a decent amount of the LIV event this weekend.
A lot of that blame goes to the Arizona Wildcats and their early exit from the tournament. Still, on Saturday and Sunday, especially early in the day, only one basketball game was on, and I set my basement up with three TVs for maximum sports watching.
I had the PGA Tour on one TV and, after some scrolling on Saturday, found the CW (called PIX 11 on YouTube TV? Very confusing when you’re searching through the “Cs” on the guide btw) to flip on LIV and observe. Before you hate, understand, my basketball team lost, it’s cold in Connecticut, and the Sonoran desert will forever be a part of my heart, so seeing that, even if it’s THE DESERT BUT LOUDER is something I’ll watch, at least for a bit.
I had some thoughts! Here we go:
The Good (yes, there was some good!)
The graphics – I know the leaderboard can feel cumbersome on the screen, considering it never goes away, but with everyone on the golf course, I feel it’s essential to have something there to give you an idea of where people sit. It feels very Control-C, Control-V from what we see with Formula 1, but if you’re going to mimic something, mimic a sport growing exponentially in popularity.
Could it be better? Absolutely, but it’s at least workable, and I like the underline scoring of the par on the hole. It’s a relatively clean look (unlike the website leaderboard, which looks like something a broken version of Johnny 5 might spit out).
Here are a couple of other graphics I thought worked:
I liked this hole/wind graphic (with the wind animated in real-time). Wind graphics have come and gone over the years in golf, but this gives even the most novice of golf fans an idea of what the player will be facing, not just on the tee shot but through the entire hole. I thought this was simple and smart.
This tee shot graphic is superb. I love splitting up tee shots by percentage and scoring average. It simplifies the good versus the bad for anyone watching. I wish they’d bring that back if the player makes a mistake to remind the viewer of the scoring from this point, but baby steps, I guess.
The outfits – It took a year, but the teams being in matching outfits (mostly) makes it a ton easier to know what team certain guys play for. Can I tell you which team Danny Lee is on? No, I can’t! I’m not sure I’d be able to get a single player right in terms of which team they play for (except for Bubba on the Goats team because I think he named them?), but when you’re watching, and they go from one guy in red to another in red, it at least makes sense. A smart move considering the team format is the one thing LIV has that nobody else does. Speaking of …
The team thing – Listen, I know these teams were put together in whatever fashion they were put together in, and it isn’t something, but watching closely this week, it also isn’t nothing. A few times, the cameras caught a player walking off a green after a good birdie or a long putt and giving a fist-bump to his caddie first and then his teammate second if they were playing together. If I were the broadcast I would lean more into these moments. They are easy cuts to commercial and, again, highlight the best part of whatever this thing is; the team aspect.
And the moment the individual title went to a four-player playoff, the teammates of those guys were out watching, doing interviews, and cheering on their guy. So, again, it might feel kinda like the NBA All-Star guys rooting each other on, but it’s at least rooting?
A Phil playoff Interview – Going back to the team thing; the individual ended in a four-man playoff for the title; Louis Oosthuizen, Brendan Steele, Carlos Ortiz, and Danny Lee.
Brendan is on Phil’s team, the HyFlyers (and no, that isn’t a typo … that’s legit how they spell it). Say what you want about Phil Mickelson, and trust me, we have, but Phil is one of the most interesting people to hear talk golf. To talk shop. It’s when he’s at his best, in my opinion (think of him at The Matches and when he jumped in the CBS booth at the 2020 PGA). Right when the playoff began, after tee shots, one of the on-course reporters talked with Phil about Steele and what type of teammate he’s been, then about the golf course and the windy conditions throughout the day, and then about some of the hole locations.
I would have Phil Mickelson talk about golf as often as I could if I was the LIV team.
The social media integrations are relentless. Can I ask a simple question to you, a golf fan that reads a golf newsletter on a Monday; outside of Inside the NBA, has any social media integration ever enhanced your experience on TV? The answer is either No or Hell No, depending on how your morning is going.
The LIV crew puts up tweets ad nauseam and worse than just putting up tweets, they do it as a full screen! I get that the idea here is to make fans at home feel like they are involved in what’s happening at their new favorite golf tour (ha!), but it does nothing for the viewer, and it takes away from the golf.
Think about the number one gripe from golf fans about golf broadcasts; it’s always that they don’t show enough golf shots. Simple as that. If you were LIV, and you had meetings about how best to disrupt the traditional PGA Tour/LPGA Tour broadcasts, wouldn’t the number one thing be to show a ton of golf? Especially with the shotgun start formatting, meaning all your stars are playing at the same time all the time. You have so much golf to show! But Randy in Des Moines thinks LIV is the best! #louderplease and that, for whatever reason, needs to interrupt watching the fellas. It doesn’t make a ton of sense. They should stop this or, at the very least, put them as lower-third graphics so as not to take away from what we’re watching. Or, maybe get creative and have players read some tweets during rounds like Jimmy Kimmel used to do with mean tweets? Anything to not see a full screen of @craiglivfan7575 ever again.
Breaking News: LIV is suffering a superstar problem – No, not that it doesn’t have superstars. It might not have a lot of them, but Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Cam Smith, Phil Mickelson, and Bryson DeChambeau are still stars in some capacity (I think … right?). These guys will still be at majors, and some fans will still care, to a certain extent.
But these guys … the stars? They’ve STUNK this year in the LIV events. Badly. Did you see this Monday Q tweet about Bryson’s golf? It’s that bad. LIV was always going to encounter an International Presidents Cup team problem; the bottom half is so much weaker than that of its competitor. But when the bottom half is contending and winning, you can’t even promote the superstars on social because they aren’t going to factor.
If a random golf fan is going to tune in, it’s probably to see how one of those five is doing, and to not even see them on the first page of the leaderboard will never be ideal.
“Keys to the Course” – Right around the turn each day, the on-course reporters do a “keys to the course” on-camera (there are three on-course reporters so it takes a good amount of time). You’ll learn gems like “hit it in the right part of the green,” “don’t three-putt,” and “stay patient.” Seriously. Again … just show the golf. That should be written on big yellow signs and slapped around every production trailer like “Believe” in Ted Lasso. And if you are going to do keys to the course to break things up, go to specific places on the golf course and highlight those things.
“Yeah, guys, this flag on 16 is cut 8 paces off the left, meaning if you try to get cute and short-side yourself, with the green sloping away from that bunker, you’re almost definitely going to make bogey.”
“This flag on the 14th, the third easiest hole this week, is in a bowl, so expect to see a ton of birdies and even a potential eagle here today.”
“The 8th has played down-wind all week, but today the wind has switched, and this will be one of the most brutal par-4s on the entire golf course.”
Generic golf points apply to pretty much every player that plays professional golf. They’re all trying not to hit it in the wrong spot on a green. They’re all working on playing patient golf. Get into the weeds with those types of things or return to the live golf (have you noticed a trend here?).
I would also bring up the broadcast spending over two minutes on the USGA rollback news but, come on, I bet you can figure out how that went and if it’s not worth me writing 200 words about it. TLDR: they aren’t fans. Shocking, I know.