Dec 5, 2022; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan addresses the crowd during the DraftKings Sportsbook groundbreaking ceremony at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. Mandatory Credit: Alex Gould/The Republic Pga Sportsbook Groundbreaking At Tpc Scottsdale

One of the hardest parts about watching men’s professional golf in the United States: the incessant ads.

It’s a constant barrage, with rare respites like the Masters and occasional sponsorship-fueled hours of commercial-free coverage offering just enough of a glimpse at what we could have to make the usual weekend ED meds/sports betting/financial services rotation feel even more frustrating in comparison.

Making a rare press conference appearance ahead of the PGA Tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was hit right away with a question on this exact topic. His response wasn’t exactly reassuring. Dusting off Fire Joe Morgan format for this one:

Coming into this season, we spent a significant amount of time with our broadcast partners, CBS, NBC, with Golf Channel in particular, looking at and assessing our broadcasts over the course of last season. One of the things that we have attempted to do together coming into this year was to show more live golf shots.

Okay, cool, two sentences to start with, both reasonable. Obviously it isn’t breaking any news that a professional sports league would coordinate with their myriad broadcast partners ahead of a new season, but hey, showing more live golf shots has always been the #1 goal for everyone complaining, so maybe this is a solid, if basic, preamble.

I’m pleased to say, as we transitioned from last year into this year, we’re showing — we have more than nine minutes more of live golf shots that you’re seeing during our broadcast, and that’s something that we are going to continue to lean into. We recognize that our fans want to see as many live golf shots as possible. I think when you look at the double box and keeping the play front and center on Saturday and Sunday, that has been a really nice enhancement. The way CBS and NBC have used their commercial breaks has been really strong heading into this year.

Here’s where things start to break down. What in the world does “nine minutes more of live golf shots” mean? Presumably this is an average of time spent showing golf, but there’s no world in which there are nine minutes more worth of actual golf shots.

Does Jay realize how long a “golf shot” is? It’s like twenty or thirty seconds, from the time a player pulls it back to the time it takes for the ball to land and come to rest, plus a bit of buffer on each side for setup and commentary. But what is he possibly referencing? Nine more minutes spread over… the standard three-hour weekend broadcast window? There’s very little to be gained here, in terms of anything helpful. Total number of shots shown would be somewhat useful, maybe, but not this framing.

Then we get to the first mention of “double box”, which is the bane of viewers and presumably advertisers alike. Those “nine minutes” almost certainly include coverage that stretches through the commercial break, rendered silently into a smaller segment of the screen while the audio and rest of the space on your television is trying to sell you something (oftentimes, bafflingly, trying to sell you on watching other PGA Tour events, a practice that remains one of the most “shoots self in dick” policies in sports broadcasting.

So, hey, at least he’s acknowledging the situation and we’re working towards betterment, right? Let’s see what other concessions and promises he’s going to be making.

But, I mean, we’re running a business. We’re fortunate to have the great corporate support that we have, and we’re doing the best we can to balance that with making certain that we’re showing as many live golf shots as possible. Also, I just think that with the way fans are consuming the PGA TOUR today, watching live golf is front and center but also looking at our apps and live video and the way that we’re taking our fans to that journey, we’re going to continue to invest in that.

They’re running a business! And by business, Monahan means a tax-exempt 501(c)6 non-profit organization, thank you very much. Monahan then fansplains how people are watching and consuming the event, as though smartphones suddenly made commercials less annoying or television broadcast specifics less important. Monahan would almost certainly point to the Tour’s sprawling television rights deal as one of his crowning achievements as commissioner, yet he’s willing to essentially say “eh viewers don’t really care about watching the broadcast” when it suits him to do so.

But I understand the basis of your question, and I think as we look into the rest of the season and into 2024, particularly with these designated events, that’s a trend that we will continue to lean into with the partners that we have. The response that we get at THE PLAYERS Championship with limited commercial interruption, thanks to the great proud partners we have, as you can imagine, is very well-received.

Do you, really, understand the basis of the question? It kind of feels like you don’t! At least here, finally, Monahan gets to the point that maybe, sure, they’ll consider trying to find sponsorship deals that allow for extended commercial-free coverage. Later, though, he was sucked back in, thanks to a question floating the idea of making the final hour of every designated event ad-free, which is admittedly an incredible idea given how much fun those have been this year already.

Monahan didn’t seem enthused.

It sounds like that’s what you would like to see. Yeah, listen, we’re — I don’t want to get ahead of myself, because we’re having conversations with our tournament organizations and title sponsors, but we will not have delivered if we don’t make changes that benefit not just our players but also our fans.

Yeah, benefitting the fans, sure, why not? If anything the changes pushed by CBS this year have led to some of the biggest innovations for viewers. Obviously that takes player cooperation, but with the Tour pushing players to be more accessible in different ways, it would seem like they’d be in a position to ask a bit more from networks in return. And as to those networks, Monahan went full Rusty Wallace, listing off the entire PGA Tour polycule:

We have great partners: NBC, Golf Channel, CBS, ESPN+, Discovery International as well as our 48 international partners. We have partners that think the same way. So now we’re at the point where, how do you make that happen. And we’ll report back when we get further, when we get closer to the ’24 season.

Thanks, Jay! We look forward to you reporting back to let us know how many more minutes of golf we get to watch during our golf broadcasts. After you talk with the broadcast partners, and the sponsors, and the international partners, and everything else that takes priority over showing the actual golf on a golf telecast. Can’t wait for that.

[PGA Tour]

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.