Jim Nantz is the face of CBS Sports, and he’s also a face of the golf apparel line from clothing company Vineyard Vines. CBS obviously broadcasts a lot of golf, including the Masters, and they also had the call this weekend at Riviera for the Genesis Open. While weather delays meant some golf was pushed to Golf Channel for overflow coverage, it was still a CBS production.
While most of the weekend broadcast notes were about the incredibly slow Sunday play from eventual winner J.B. Holmes, there was a moment on Saturday in which the production crew seemed to be making a concerted effort to highlight a player wearing a Nantz signature 1/4 zip pullover. (It aired on Golf Channel but again, it’s still the CBS broadcast.)
Here, for example, is essentially 20 seconds of complete silence as the camera follows the player in question (rising pro J.T. Poston) around the first green, with a slight zoom onto the logo:
Nantz went on for some length about Poston’s up-and-coming status, as well; Poston has indeed moved up in the rankings, climbing from a year-end 2018 rank of 348 up to 231 in the world on the strength of his eventual T28 finish at Riviera, but he’s not exactly the kind of player that gets a lot of airtime on a normal CBS broadcast.
Perhaps most egregious was this sequence, which saw a smash cut to a zoom angle on the back of Poston’s neck as he bent down to read a putt:
And then, after he taps in, viewers got another lingering look, as he cleaned up for a birdie:
That clip also ends instructively, as it cuts directly to Tiger Woods hitting an approach from the rough elsewhere on the course. It’s a nice reminder that there was other golf happening, while we instead watched Poston meander about the green as the CBS camera crew attempted to frame a shot of Nantz’s fashion label. It’s important to note, here, that given the constant camera efforts and neither Nantz or Faldo actually mentioning it outright, it was very possibly just the crew having some fun. The problem with that, though, is that networks have more control over what viewers see in golf than in any other sport.
We see every pitch of a baseball game, every play in football. It’s all right in front. Golf, though, is impossible to show in its entirety; the network, then, has both the task and the responsibility of breaking it down as it happens to give viewers the best possible sense of what’s happening. It’s never going to please everyone (although just showing more live golf shots in quick succession would go a very long way), but it’s also not as hard as the people in power make it out to be.
For example: there’s no need for this at all! Poston was hardly shown before or after, and while this did come at a weird point in the day on Saturday when there were fewer players on the course thanks to the rain-delayed schedule weirdness, did we really need a few minutes of Poston two-putting for a birdie, just in an effort to either embarrass Jim Nantz a bit (at best) or put over his fashion line (at worst)?
That’s before we even get to the world of golf media sponsorships, where Nantz does voiceover work for Titleist commercials before commenting on Titleist players, Rory McIlroy creates an entire lifestyle brand/content machine in partnership with NBC and Golf Channel, and Peter Kostis spends the final round at Pebble Beach walking with Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey as an on-course reporter despite being Casey’s longtime swing coach.
That’s not to say any of these people are actually compromising anything. Take Kostis; as Casey’s round broke down, Gary McCord brought up the fact that Kostis was his coach, and asked what he was seeing. Kostis mentioned that to him, Casey’s swing was getting shorter and shorter as the round progressed, and he mentioned that was a tendency when things went badly. That’s good insight for a viewer, and probably the right way to handle something like this when it pops up.
The wrong way: going full zoom-and-enhance on J.T. Poston’s sweater instead of showing golf. That’s just a bad look for everyone involved.
Except for Poston. It was a pretty sharp sweater.