It’s hard to describe how quickly CBS has revamped their golf coverage.
Long a plagued by a staid feel, CBS has now quickly risen to the top of network golf coverage thanks to being willing to innovate and push for more different views, new technology, and other tweaks that have legitimately enhanced the viewing experience under new chief Sellers Shy. This year also features Trevor Immelman sliding into the lead analyst chair vacated by Nick Faldo.
This tournament used to be filled with dread because it meant the return of the CBS slog.
Now they’re the ones pushing things forward in golf coverage. pic.twitter.com/iyGt9p7yCW
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) January 27, 2023
But on Friday evening it was one specific new feature that drew the most praise, even if it was one that should have happened a long time ago: players wearing live mics mid-round.
Max Homa was the perfect candidate for this; he’s always come across as comfortable both with himself and being onscreen, while not taking the entire thing too seriously. (He might be the only golfer with an elite Twitter presence.)
Homa put an earpiece in and spent the par-5 13th hole describing his round, shot process, and more, bantering with the booth before the broadcast laid out to get insight into a rules discussion (during which Homa took what felt like a playful shot at Patrick Reed, too.)
Here’s a taste of it:
Live insight from @MaxHoma23 ?️
Homa discusses his tee shot and thought process for his upcoming approach shot as he walks down the 13th fairway. pic.twitter.com/g52OleOpuE
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 27, 2023
The whole thing was tremendous interplay, and served to do exactly what the best innovations in sports broadcasting should do: remove as much filter between audience and action as possible.
Golf is uniquely suited for this, too. As Homa discussed with the booth, there’s plenty of downtime on the course. Players spend most of their rounds actively trying to kill time, without massive crowd noise or any other factors. Plus there’s no real need for secrecy around strategy; Homa could describe his plan for the hole in as much detail as possible and it wouldn’t give anything away that any other player could use, because everyone’s game is different.
This should be an obvious thing for players to embrace, too; Homa (and his sponsors, which might be the biggest incentive for players to adopt this going forward) received a long stretch of network CBS airtime on a Friday evening. There will always be certain players who refuse, but the more that choose to do it (and do it with the enthusiasm and insight that Max brought here) will only make the broadcast better.
More of this, please, especially for a sport like golf that needs all the help it can get in terms of appealing to new audiences.