Fox has changed the way a lot of sports are televised since the network first got into the sports biz back in the mid ’90s. Most of those innovations have to do with technology, the gadgets and gizmos that have for the most part enhanced the telecasts.
Added to the list of those sports is golf. Fox really came into its own at its most recent U.S. Open, finding ways to bring more information to viewers, such as flight trackers and wind readings.
Now that the final major of the year — the PGA Championship — is looming next weekend, Aug. 10-13, at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C., CBS is putting its own spin on golf technology and, if possible, do Fox one better.
CBS will use “Trackman” for the first time on all 18 holes, using 3D radar tracking to provide with distance, height, curvature and more.
“Virtual Eye” will be used on more holes, showing exactly where the ball is on the course, and also providing flyover animation to give a second-shot perspective once the ball comes to rest.
“Toptracer” is basically a portable version of Trackman that can be used for second and third shots. “Smartcart,” used last year, is a custom-fitted golf cart with a 72-inch mobile screen to illustrate golf swings, difficulty of holes and so forth. CBS will also have the super slo-mo “SwingVision,” bunker cams and aerial drone coverage.
“I’m most excited that we can used the technology on all 18 holes,” CBS Sports president Sean McManus said. “The ARL Virtual Eye, where you see at the side of the screen exactly the flight of the ball on a 3D model, really, really does show you where the ball goes and the trajectory of the ball. It really sets up what the golfer did with that tee shot and then what he has to deal with for a second shot.
“I like all the technology a lot. I think that for the viewer at home it gives him and her really the best view of the golf course and how that particular player is playing the hole.”
SPIETH IS SPECIAL
After winning the British Open, Jordan Spieth will be looking to complete a career Grand Slam at the PGA Championship.
“Golf could be on the precipice of one of the greatest achievements in the history of sport,” CBS anchor Jim Nantz said. “It’s a responsibility that we’re really happy to have in our hands.”
CBS analyst Dottie Pepper believes Spieth’s comeback win at the British Open opened the public’s eyes to Spieth’s ability and potential.
“The context I learned for the impact of his win at the Open was that he was above the fold on the sports page of the New York Times,” Pepper said. “That, to me, tells you all you need to know about impact. And it was the tease on the front page. So when golf moves into that space, that means you’re doing something right.”
TNT will show the first and second rounds of the PGA Championship next Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m. PDT. CBS will have the third and fourth rounds at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Nantz and Pepper will be joined by Verne Lundquist, Bill Macatee, Nick Faldo, Ian Baker-Finch, Gary McCord, Frank Nobilo, Peter Kostis and Amanda Balionis.
WHAT IT WAS WAS FOOTBALL
The NFL was set to rumble back into action at 5 Thursday night with the Hall of Fame Game from Canton, Ohio, and the Dallas Cowboys facing the Arizona Cardinals. It’s a chance for viewers to reunite with NBC’s Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth and Michele Tafoya.
The game, of course, is secondary at best to the atmosphere the surrounds the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the upcoming inductions which are to take place Saturday (ESPN, 4 p.m.).
Thursday’s NBC telecast will include live interviews with all seven inductees: Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones; Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner; kicker Morten Andersen; running back Terrell Davis; safety Kenny Easley; defensive end Jason Taylor and running back LaDainian Tomlinson.
UP & DOWN THE DIAL
Jac Collinsworth, son of Cris, will join ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown as a features reporter. Jac has worked as an assistant sideline producer for NBC’s Sunday Night Football telecasts and has done digital and syndicated football work at Notre Dame. … NBC and NBCSN will show 99 NHL games next season, down from last season’s record-high 106. They start with the champion Pittsburgh Penguins hosting St. Louis on Oct. 4 on NBCSN. NBCSN will also show the first home at the Detroit Red Wings’ new Little Caesars Arena on Oct. 5 and the Vegas Golden Knights’ first home game against Arizona on Oct. 10. The Los Angeles Kings appear 10 times, all on NBCSN; the Anaheim Ducks appear four times, also all on NBCSN. …
ESPN says its coverage of the El Clásico Miami soccer game Saturday between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid was seen by 836,000 viewers, the network’s most watched non-U.S. international friendly match. … The Dodgers and New York Mets will be on national TV twice this weekend, at 1 p.m. Saturday on Fox Sports 1 and on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball for the second week in a row (5 p.m.). … TBS will show Nationals-Cubs at 11 a.m. Sunday. …
The final races of Usain Bolt’s career will come this weekend at the World Track and Field Championships from London. Bolt first runs in the men’s 100-meter heats at 10:30 a.m. Friday, live on the new Olympic Channel with coverage of the final at noon Saturday on NBC. Bolt is also expected to compete in the 4×100 relay, which NBC will show at noon Saturday, Aug. 12. … NBC and Motor Racing Network will feature Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race from Watkins Glen from four different vantage points. NBC’s Leigh Diffey and Steve Letarte will call it from the traditional position above the finish line, MRN’s Mike Bagley and NBC’s Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman will report from separate locations around the track.