Fox Dealing With Logistical Hurdles For U.S. Open At Shinnecock
Fox Sports' compound for this year’s coverage of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island was "so big it had to be divided into two pieces: a small one alongside the course, and a bigger one beyond it," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. Fox Sports VP/Field Operations & Engineering Brad Cheney said, "This is the largest show we do at Fox Sports -- double the size of the Super Bowl, triple the size of NASCAR and the baseball postseason." Fox Sports Dir of Field Operations Sarita Meinking said that there are "more than 700 Fox employees at the event staying in more than 400 rooms in seven hotels, with an additional 150 or so people in rented houses." Meinking: "This has been, I would say, logistically the most challenging one I’ve done so far at Fox." The operation this week "includes 101 cameras" and 38 miles of fiber optics. Fox was "criticized for some elements" of its first U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in '15, but even then it got "strong reviews for its technical innovations, such as tracing shots in the air and enhancing on-course audio." Every U.S. Open since then has "added wrinkles, such as a fairway feature this time that will trace the ball toward the possible landing zone." As the ball nears, the "zone narrows to show where the ball actually is going to land" (NEWSDAY, 6/14). Best noted Fox' "technical touches" to its U.S. Open coverage "have been well received." Fox Sports Coordinating Producer Mark Loomis said, "Other networks have talked about the fact that they’ve looked at some of the stuff we’ve done and they’ve used it themselves. Imitation is always a good sign." He added, "The shot tracer technology that we’ve used, I read a lot about how people miss it when it’s not there. We’ve obviously been at the forefront of that" (NEWSDAY, 6/12).
LESS IS MORE: Loomis said that when it comes to covering the U.S. Open, having fewer announcers is "better than more." GOLF DIGEST's Sam Weinman noted Loomis acknowledges that the first few years of the net’s golf venture "went overboard with the sheer number of announcers." He was "worried his announcers would get burned out by Sunday." Loomis: "We really want to be good on Sunday and if people are working all day Thursday and Friday they’re going to be exhausted, so I was trying to avoid that." Fox this week is splitting its on-air booth into two teams featuring Joe Buck-Paul Azinger for two hours and Shane Bacon-Brad Faxon for two hours, and Loomis said the viewer will be "more comfortable that way" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 6/12). Golf course architect Gil Hanse, who is part of Fox Sports' team this week, said that his role on the telecasts will be to talk about Shinnecock Hills from the "perspective of 'architecture and agronomy.'" In Philadelphia, Joe Juliano notes Hanse tries to "make sure that he speaks in terms that the common golfer understands." Hanse: "We talk about things like false fronts on the greens. What is a false front? Explain it. So to explain these little terms that get thrown out there, I try to do it the best way possible" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/14).