Thoughts After Watching the CBS Replay of 1986 Masters Final Round

First off, if you have not watched the replay, by all means do so.  Thanks to Geoff Shackelford for publicizing the availability of the video.

You know the details of the tournament play, so I’ll skip all that.  No need to rehash the greatest tournament in golf history.  What astonished me was the quality of the broadcast.  I highly praised the Golf Channel/Gannon/Rankin coverage of the Dinah Shore yesterday.  I found many similarities between that coverage and this 1986 Masters coverage.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Dinah Shore coverage marked a change of direction for golf broadcasts?

As you read these points, think about the people who erroneously claim Nicklaus got outrageously obsessive coverage when he was playing, that he dominated coverage to the detriment of the rest of the field and the broadcast itself.

  • Jack was mentioned in the opening as a past winner along with Arnold Palmer and several others.  Less than ten seconds were spent on him.  He started the day T-9, four shots off the lead.
  • After 24 minutes (commercials were stripped, so it was probably longer), Nicklaus gets his first real mention.  He birdied No. 9 to go 1-under on the day.
  • On No. 10, only his putt was shown.  Another birdie.
  • On No. 11, only his putt was shown.  Another birdie.
  • The massive gallery at No. 12 saw Nicklaus bogey the hole.  Starting with this hole, CBS began showing more of Nicklaus.
  • At the 1:37:30 mark of the video, note the leaderboard.  Nicklaus was listed third of the three players at -5.  CBS did not screw over the other players and artificially push his name up the leaderboard.
  • At the 1:42:50 mark, they show the leaderboard again, verifying they did not artificially push Nicklaus up the leaderboard.
  • Nantz is a darn kid!  He looks 15 years old.
  • Sandy Lyle, whose caddie this week, someone recently informed me, will be Esteban Toledo, was Nicklaus’s playing partner that Sunday thirty years ago.
  • There were a very limited number of replays.  (Graphics were even more limited.)  What we got instead were more live shots and an incredible flow to the tournament.
  • I don’t think I heard a single, “He pushed that one, Rog,” or, “Rog, it looks like he pulled it.”  That seems to be de rigueur on every putt nowadays, accompanied by a slow motion replay of the putt, of course.  Because that is so, uh, fascinating and enlightening and all.
  • There was no Amateur Night at the Comedy Club shtick.  The closest thing to it was when Gary Player commented that Seve’s short game was like a locksmith (or something like that) and a couple of the announcers made little puns.  Far and away, priority one was coverage of the tournament.

The lesson for broadcasters: Less is more.  Broadcasters nowadays destroy tournament flow by cramming in too much useless, superfluous nonsense.  They assault you with sizzle — and never serve the steak.

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2 Responses to Thoughts After Watching the CBS Replay of 1986 Masters Final Round

  1. HennyB says:

    This is the way a golf tournament should be covered. I really appreciated how they didn’t merely follow Jack around the course with a camera showing his every step. The other players in field were covered and their shots shown. I mean look at the list of guys they were covering on the back nine on Sunday: Tom Kite, Seve, Sandy Lyle, Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Nick Price, Langer, Donnie Hammond, and Tommy Nakajima (both far from household names, yet afforded the respect they deserved for being in the hunt). I also liked how they jumped around to various holes to cover what other players were doing while Jack lined up his putts and came back to him only when he was ready to hit the putt. We didn’t have to sit and watch while the players circle the green several times over, talked to their caddy, and once more check their line. I’m a big Jack fan so don’t get me wrong, but I also liked how they didn’t follow and show footage of him walking from the green to the next tee box. They went somewhere else to check in on say Seve and Tom Kite ready to hit their shots into the 15th green. Jack holed out and you didn’t see him again until he was on the next tee box ready to hit his drive. It wasn’t all Jack all the time and I appreciated that.

    • lannyh says:

      It was night and day compared to the awful coverage we get nowadays. I don’t know if a return to such quality is even possible, but I hope it is.

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