The No Laying Up alternate broadcast for Day 1 of the 2024 PGA Championship. The No Laying Up alternate broadcast for Day 1 of the 2024 PGA Championship. (Omaha Productions on Twitter/X.)

For the second straight year, ESPN’s PGA Championship coverage includes an alternate broadcast with the “fanalysts” from popular golf content platform No Laying Up. That broadcast is in association with Omaha Productions, known for their alternate broadcast work on the ManningCast and well beyond.

This time around, the alternate broadcast (PGA Championship with No Laying Up) is on ESPN2 rather than ESPN+ for the first two days, airing from 1-3 p.m. Eastern both days. It then will air on ESPN+ from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Eastern both Saturday and Sunday. Ahead of the tournament, No Laying Up co-founder Chris “Soly” Solomon spoke to AA on what they’re planning, saying that the big focus for them is reacting and adapting.

“We have a bunch of stuff semi-planned, but it’s also kind of one of those things that we’re trying not to over plan because the whole goal is to react to what’s on the screen and what’s happening. And we’ve long clamored for changes in the way golf is presented, and a lot of that includes live golf shots. So it’s hard to plan cutaways and bits and things like that when you know you’re eating into precious major championship live golf shot time.

“But at the same time, we’ll have some fun games and things to throw at each other, and discussion points and things to talk about that are, you know, a little bit outside of just typical ‘What’s his lie like down there?’ It’s more of a video podcast, a live golf podcast, more than it is serious golf commentary. So it’s hard to say we’ve planned anything in particular, other that we’ve talked about it and we’d say like ‘Let’s just react and go off of 10/20/30-plus years of friendship for some of us that has led to some decent chemistry and a decent following.'”

Solomon said they’ve been approached for similar alternate broadcasts before, but ESPN and Omaha Productions were the right fit, as was doing this for the PGA Championship rather than The Masters (the other major where ESPN has some rights).

“ESPN has been great to work with,” he said. “The PGA Championship is a little less stingy on a lot of things than Augusta National is. So it just kind of aligns; they’ve always been forward-thinking in their programming, and Omaha has been fantastic to work with. For us to do this, it takes like a near-perfect team and setup to do right.

“We’ve flirted with some similar things over the years with other potential partners and if the vibe is off, if the chemistry is off, if the idea is off and it doesn’t really align with our mission statement, then it’s a no-go for us. So working with Omaha and the team there has been great.”

Solomon said the key thing with working with Omaha and ESPN was those companies’ faith in the No Laying Up crew.

“They made it really easy on us. And the biggest thing is like they’ve just trusted us, saying like, ‘Dude, we’re not going to tell you what to do. Do your thing. And that kind of partner can be really, really hard to find in a bit of a buttoned-up sports and golf media world.”

He said the initial run at this last year was fun but challenging, but they were happy with the reception it got.

“It was a glorious madness, you know?” Solomon said. “We had a great time making fun of Neil [Schuster], who could not understand how to throw it to commercial. But he also doesn’t do live television, right? It’s a totally different muscle to flex for us. There’s a lot to learn, learning that we could trust ourselves. But it went really well, people had great feedback.”

Solomon said the key for the No Laying Up group on this kind of altcast is staying authentic to who they are and not trying to be a traditional broadcast, as ESPN already has that available.

“We had some fun with it. A good throughline for us is that if you want to watch the serious golf, that is available one channel away. You can find that very easily. If you’re seeking this out, you are looking for something different.”

He said having that reinforced during and after the first year set them up well for this year.

“Trust yourselves. Trust each other to, you know, make it fun and entertaining, and make it be something different that you know is different than what’s on regular ESPN. So, you know, learning that, or I guess getting that emphasized, in year one helps us so much in year two to say ‘Just trust yourself and go with it and let’s have some fun.'”

Solomon said Omaha’s specific expertise in live alternate broadcasts, and in turning around clips from them quickly, is extremely valuable.

“It’s funny, we have, I don’t want to call it a bare- bones, staff here, but we do so much of the technical lifting on our end here that, you know, we try to keep things as as simple as possible. They can dial stuff up so quickly, editing clips, that was a big key for it for us, too. And they did a great job of making fun of us last year, which is kind of our whole essence, we’ve got to be able to make fun of each other. But their mash-up of clips by the end of the show of some of the best and worst moments over the last couple of hours, I just remember laughing really hard at that.

“But, you know, the technical team just makes us feel really comfortable in terms of being ourselves. I told this to Jimmy G, who’s the main guy that’s in our ear, he does a great job of it. If we did something that makes him laugh, he’ll hit the talk back button and we can hear him laughing. Otherwise it’s just us talking, we have no idea if it’s funny or not. But if he found it funny, we usually find that to be a pretty good good sign. So it’s just little stuff like that that has really helped us get comfortable in this role.”

Solomon said getting to do an alternate broadcast on ESPN platforms for a major championship is not something he and the cast really envisioned around the company’s beginnings in 2014, but it is a dream.

“Yeah, honestly, if you’d have gone back six, seven, maybe even 10 years to say ‘What would your dream thing be to do?’ I mean, we love doing our podcast, we love doing our live show, we love doing our videos, they’re a lot of fun.

“But ‘What would you love to do?’ I’d be like ‘I’d love to just make it make a TV show about watching major championship golf, the guys sitting around laughing and saying what they would say if they were, you know, just sitting at home.’ That would be like, way up on the list. So to get the opportunity to do that last year and to have it be positively received…”

He said the lack of overly critical feedback from ESPN and Omaha was a big reason they wanted to do this again.

“That was a big thing too, nobody came to us and said ‘Here’s what you should do this year, do this this year.’ It’s like it’s up to us. You know, we’ve met internally and come up with a bunch of ways that we think we can improve it. Year one was fun to try, and year two getting asked to come back was like, ‘Okay, we might actually have something here that people are into.’ The Omaha folks were into it, ESPN was into it.”

Solomon said it’s still somewhat hard to believe that this happened, though.

“I just never would picture this actually happening and coming finally through all the layers of approval that something probably has to do to get on television. I would not have guessed that us chuckleheads would have gotten the approval of that. But it’s been a lot of fun and we owe a lot of that just to our audience, the people that have supported us so much for such a long period of time to kind of help get things slowly but surely up more into the mainstream. It’s been a dream come true. It’s really, really fun.”

Read on for more from Solomon on the state of televised golf coverage, and how it feels to be contributing to that.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.