Major team events in golf are rightly hyped up through the entire year. As they should be; it’s a rare example of golf’s top professional players (men and women) playing a different format.

This isn’t LIV’s half-baked team golf idea, either; the Presidents Cup is the weakest of the three major pro team events (the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup have the top two slots locked up), but the last time we saw the United States take on the International team in the winter of 2019 it was riveting primetime action.

(Side note: think of all that’s happened in the three years since we last had the Presidents Cup. Even just the world of golf; that week saw Tiger Woods looking like the best player in the world again, while the entire LIV debacle was still just simmering on a backburner. That’s before we get to the events of the whole world. What a weird stretch of time to be alive.)

Thursday’s opening day at Quail Hollow, though, left a lot to be desired from a viewing perspective. Team events should be the easiest weeks of the year from a production standpoint.

The first day featured five alternate shot matches, which meant only ten balls in play on the entire course, and oftentimes fewer than that, as there were stretches before all five matches began and then a final stretch as the opening matches ended.

Considering most weeks golf coverage has to monitor more than 100 players across the entire course, you’d think weeks like this one would allow for the absolute minimum of missed shots, with the network able to tell the stories of all five matches nearly in full. It should be the platonic ideal of golf watching, getting to see top players work all around the course, with the added pressure of alternate shot leading to teammates needing to strategize and forgive each other for poor play.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happened at all. Instead, we got the latest example of an impossibly predictable trend: entire matches being ignored for long stretches of time. In place of showing the action, NBC/Golf Channel offered plenty of filler, commercials, split-screen with commercials, and all the other things that tend to frustrate people who just want to watch golf being played.

Viewers were predictably pissed.

It’s hard to overestimate just how frustrating it is to be told for months how important events like these are, only to immediately have the actual action overshadowed by a barrage of ads and production choices that make everything feel smaller. That’s before we even get to the lack of shots shown, which is by a wide margin the easiest fix for networks looking to improve their coverage.

Obviously, ad loads are what they are, and they’re not likely to be reduced any time soon. But you can’t spend months running commercials about how great events like these are and then ignore them when they’re happening. The Super Bowl sells a lot of ads, too, but they don’t run concurrently with the action. Casual viewers might not care, but casual viewers likely aren’t locking in on the opening day of the Presidents Cup on a Thursday afternoon.

One workaround could be something that’s already in place at the Masters: a streaming option that allows viewers to essentially curate their own broadcast.

Admittedly this is a bit of a pet idea of mine:

There’s just no excuse not to have this, especially for a domestic edition in North Carolina. Quail Hollow already hosts a PGA Tour event every year, too, so it’s not like camera positions and other infrastructure isn’t already mapped out. It’s just such a slap in the face to the core audience of your sport to make it literally impossible to watch all of the action (with a lot of what is shown relegated to a small percentage of the screen without audio), especially for a big event like this that doubles as one of the easier events to actually show maximum golf.

Something has to get better at some point, because it’s hard to understand who broadcasts like this one are even for. At some point, the audience should be a factor in how you construct your product. With a few exceptions, golf production has arguably been getting even more frustrating for every class of viewer in recent years. That’s inexcusable.

[Photo Credit: Golf Channel]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a writer and editor for The Comeback, and a contributor at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer.