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Volume 25 No. 61
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CBS Sports Plans Heavy Tech Push For PGA Championship

CBS' Undulation Grid will provide viewers with a graphical overlay of Bellerive's greens
Photo: cbs sports

The 100th PGA Championship began today at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, and CBS Sports plans to use the tournament to make its "biggest technology push to date in golf," according to Martin Kaufmann of GOLFWEEK. That will include "adapting one technology better known to basketball fans and reintroducing green-reading tools." CBS, which has weekend coverage, will "introduce 4D Replay on the 15th tee," which can pan 270 degrees, "zoom in and slow down, creating what should be an interesting tool to study players’ swings." CBS will bring back a Putt Predictor, which "illustrates the firm and lag putting lines, to give viewers an idea of the range in which putts must roll to have a chance of going in." CBS also will use an Undulation Grid, a "graphical overlay to show the contours of the greens." Toptracer will be "available on all 18 holes," as CBS will use "wireless, mounted cameras to trace approach shots from the fairways." These tools and others "create the potential for livelier and more fulfilling viewing experiences this week and beyond" (GOLFWEEK.com, 8/7).

ON THE COURSE: CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said that viewers of the PGA Championship "shouldn’t expect to see a history lesson or a lot of flashbacks to versions of the tourney over the last 10 decades." McManus: "It will be reflected in our teases (leading into commercials) and with some very short features, but our philosophy basically is to cover golf. We don’t want to spend too much time away from the golf course. But there will certainly be the recognition that this is the 100th PGA championship." In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes there is "one key off-the-course aspect that might draw more attention -- the fact that the tournament moves to May next year, giving CBS the rare opportunity to show three consecutive majors." McManus: "We’re excited about the move and we’re definitely going to reference it during our coverage." Caesar notes CBS analyst Ian Baker Finch's 97-year-old mother has died, so he "won't be on hand this weekend for the tournament." Baker-Finch, who is from Australia, is "returning home to be with family." Meanwhile, Verne Lundquist is "back this week" to report on the tournament. It will be only the "second time he has worked" since leaving the "SEC on CBS" booth prior to last season, as he "covered the Masters in April" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/9).

POSSIBLE SUITORS: The Ringer's Geoff Shackelford noted the PGA Championship's TV contract ends after next year's event, and a new deal will be agreed upon in the "coming weeks or months ... probably" between CBS or NBC. However, there have been some "interesting mentions of other people suddenly interested in getting back into golf in some form, so you never know." ESPN "has a little interest and TNT certainly has a lot of money and interest." There have been "kind of rumblings there might be a streaming element." Shackelford: "You never know with a Netflix or Amazon out there, they've all been suggested as wanting to get into sports" ("Shackhouse Podcast," THERINGER.com, 8/7).