SBD/Issue 130/Sports Media

PGA Tour, NBC Teaming For Trial Run Of Microphones On Caddies

PGA Tour, NBC Will Use Next Week's Shell
Houston Open As Trial Run
The PGA Tour will partner with NBC at next week's Shell Houston Open "to determine if it's worth putting a microphone" on some Tour caddies, according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. The tournament will be a "test for the quality of the audio and whether the conversations are worthy of the telecast," and none of the audio will air on NBC's coverage next week. The net's concern is "not what comes out of a caddie's mouth -- there is a time delay for TV -- but the quality of the sound." NBC Sports and CBS Sports, the PGA Tour's broadcast TV rights holders, primarily use boom microphones on the fairway to pick up sound, but they "often can only get to one player at a time." However, there "could be logistical problems" with the caddies' trial, as it "only works when the caddie is standing close enough to the player to pick up both sides of the conversation." The Tour last week at its annual meeting broached the subject with the caddies, and "some of them are concerned about being limited in what they say -- not during the shot, but the three hours of dead time during a round." Caddie Mitch Knox: "Most of us are aware when the big boom mike is around, and it's usually when you're coming down the stretch. You know what you say is being picked up. But having a mike could be a problem" (AP, 3/24). PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said that the Tour and the networks are "pretty excited about getting more player-caddie interplay onto telecasts." Finchem: "It adds a lot to the telecast." He added miking "would be voluntary for players" (GOLFWEEK, 3/28 issue). YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote caddies should be wired "for every minute of a round -- hell, before and after a round, when we hear what they really think about their golfers." If Steve Williams, Tiger Woods' caddie, criticizes Phil Mickelson in public, "imagine what goes on in private" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/24).

COUNTING UP STROKES: GOLFWEEK's Bradley Klein watched NBC's coverage of last weekend's PGA Tour Transitions Championship, and noted he "came away thinking that while I had just watched a pretty exciting tournament unfold, an awful lot of time was spent breaking away to do ads and promotional announcements, disrupting the flow of the golf." During a 3 hour, 12 minute stretch of coverage, NBC showed 210 golf shots and 88 commercials, the "vast majority in the 30-second range." Klein noted for "all the coverage on the leaders, surely NBC could have done better than wait 2 hours and 7 minutes into the telecast to present the final crawl display of the field" (GOLFWEEK.com, 3/22).

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