In recent years, some networks have introduced mid-round, on-course interviews during golf tournaments, with mixed results.

The PGA Tour and Golf Channel tried it last year in Hawaii, and it didn’t stick. The European Tour still does it in conjunction with their broadcast partners, with better results. The European Tour also instituted a harsher slow play policy this year, though, and while it’s another effort to improve the broadcast product, it’s already interfered with the interview policy.

We saw that in the second round in Saudi Arabia, where Graeme McDowell was hit with a slow play warning after giving an on-course interview to Sky Sports.

Via Alex Myers at Golf Digest:

“I think I got a monitoring bad time which then turns into being officially on the clock,” McDowell said. “I just did an interview with Tim Barter, so I was 50 yards behind the guys; and I was up there and first to go and I had 215 yards into the wind. It was a difficult shot. I’d have called a time-out if that had been something that was automatic in my brain. It’s just, you know, the last thing I think of out there. I called a time-out after I hit the shot, but the referee was not really willing to give me any kind of room for error at all. Then, you know, that kind of upset my rhythm for a couple holes. But hey, we’ve got to play faster.”

“You know, slow golf, it doesn’t help the viewer and it doesn’t help the club golfer on the weekend and we’ve just got to play fast,” McDowell added after Friday’s round. “That’s something I’m working hard on doing. I really feel like my routine over the last few years has gotten better and better and better. I was disappointed to get that bad time, but it is what it is.”

McDowell is in contention, too, which meant the potential for a one-shot penalty was even more important. As he noted, the new slow play policy includes a time-out, which he could have taken after the interview, but players are clearly still getting used to it. Clearly two policies aimed at improving the broadcast for viewers could work together, though; maybe an on-course interview should trigger a free extension, for example.
Hopefully the European Tour manages to fine tune the balance, and hopefully the PGA Tour continues to ramp up their own efforts in the same department.

About Jay Rigdon

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