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Should there be more golf on mainstream TV?

Recently while browsing through the news on the BBC website I saw an article that caught my eye on archived Radio Times listings online.  Straight away with some curiosity I went to see what was on the TV on the day that I was born. 

Interestingly on BBC 2 there was a golf highlights show at 11pm, a Match of The Day for golf.  Highlights of the World Matchplay event at Wentworth, won by Bill Rodgers in 1979 for the record.

It’s hard to criticise the superb coverage Sky have brought to golf which they are now applying expertly to Formula One.  However, I do wish there was more golf shown on mainstream TV, even if it is a highlights package shown in the evening like there was back in 1979.  

As I don’t have Sky Sports it is virtually impossible to see much golf apart for ad hoc highlights shown sporadically on Euro Sport of the previous week’s PGA Tour event.

I was a little disappointed in recent years to see the BBC lose the rights to show live golf at the Masters on both Thursday and Friday.  It was also disappointing to see the BBC showing the highlights package at 12.30pm that evening.  I’m sure there is probably some contractual obligation to show the highlights after the days play has finished as it doesn’t make much sense otherwise.

Live golf on mainstream TV is something of a treat and speaking to keen golfers at the time of the Open they couldn’t wait to really indulge themselves in the Open curtsey of the fantastic coverage on the BBC. 

Racking my brains I thought when is live golf actually shown on the TV apart from the Open on the BBC?  Here in Ireland we have the Irish Open at the end of June, the weekends play at Augusta and....  I’m sure there must be more tournaments, isn’t there?

Golf is a fantastic sport for kids to start playing and a lot of people are inspired to play after witnessing a great sporting moment on the TV.  Be it a last gasp goal to win the cup final or a heroic sprint to the line in an Olympic final.

Kids aspire to be like just like their heroes, Irish rugby has never been so popular because of the huge exposure it receives via mainstream TV.  I know it is not economically viable to show every event on mainstream TV as the respective Tours sell the TV packages to the highest bidders, which is invariably satellite TV. 

However, surely a highlights package can be put together?  A weekly magazine type show spanning the European, US, Ladies, Seniors Tours is surely not too much to ask.

The European Tour particularly needs a shot in the arm, unfortunately it has been drifting in recent years where players have been using it as a stepping stone to the PGA Tour in the States.  Could a return of more Tournaments to mainstream TV give the European Tour a better profile?  On its own, probably not, but it certainly wouldn’t do it any harm to try something different.

By Dan Cole

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