Closing Shot: Rainbow Connection
The rain had peppered down during the final round of the 1997 PGA Championship as Davis Love III looked to wrap up a dominating performance at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y. But as Love walked to the 18th green to line up his final putt, the sun shone through the clouds and a rainbow framed the scene.
“I was back on the tee and I remember seeing them walking up on 18,” said Kerry Haigh, the longtime chief championships officer for the PGA of America. “Television caught it beautifully.”
Love sank a 15-foot putt to seal a five-stroke win over Justin Leonard and earn his first and only major championship after many near misses.
“That is what love is all about!” said CBS’s Jim Nantz as he called the winning putt.
This year’s PGA Championship, starting this week at Harding Park in San Francisco, will be memorable for Haigh and all associated because it is the first time the event will be played with no fans on the course due to the pandemic. There will be no hospitality tents, no massive grandstands and no sprawling merchandise area as the PGA of America hosts the event in a similar bubble arrangement as the PGA Tour has used over the summer. The pandemic forced the postponement of the event from May to this month.
This is also the opening year of the PGA of America’s new 11-year media rights deal with ESPN and CBS that for the first time will offer wire-to-wire coverage of the tournament, with a combination of TV and digital content through ESPN+.
“There will be 175 hours of coverage and in a challenging environment, we will still deliver amazing golf across ESPN and CBS,” said PGA of America Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Price.
Sponsors will be highlighted both with virtual signage and on-course signage. Added content is planned across both the PGA of America’s media partners and its own revamped PGA.com and PGAchampionship.com sites. The approach will aim to give fans a sense of being on the course and will feature profiles of 20 PGA professionals who have qualified for the event. Inclusion and diversity messaging will also be part of the coverage.
The digital strategy will deliver new content such as every shot on demand from featured players and leaders along with 1,200 video highlights.
“The delay gave us an opportunity to amp up our coverage,” said Rob Smith, general manager of PGA Interactive. “It is having a unique lens for the unique year. All of this is a giant platform to promote our members and the mission of the association.”