by Jeff Skinner
One of the best things to happen to golf over the years has been The Golf Channel. When Arnold Palmer and company plunked down some cash in 1995 to start a television channel whose only subject was golf, many thought it wouldn’t last. Well, it has done more than just hang around. It has flourished and become the number one media outlet for golf news and information.
The Golf Channel covers all the tours in one way or another but one of the most enjoyable features of The Golf Channel is its coverage of The European Tour. The coverage of the PGA Tour, The Champions Tour, The Nationwide Tour and The LPGA gives us the opportunity to see as much golf as we could possibly want but it is The European Tour coverage that is my favorite.
On most occasions The Golf Channel is showing whatever television feed it can get from Europe, so they can’t give us all the technological tricks that they use on their own telecasts but that does not detract from the broadcast. The locations throughout Europe are so exotic and varied that each one seems more interesting than the last.
The fans at the European tournaments look to be slightly more laid back then the American fans at PGA Tour events. They seem to be there to enjoy the food, drink, and friends and maybe appreciate a little good golf along the way. They acknowledge good play and I have yet to hear any yell, “Get in the hole” at any player, ever.
The European telecasts concentrate on golfers making golf shots and rarely do they linger on a player who is not prepared to play a shot. We get more shots per minute and that’s always good. The quality of the golf on the tour is excellent. There are many good golfers that do not make the PGA Tour their home and the Golf Channel telecasts allows us to see them on some of the best courses in the world.
There is no Johnny Miller or Nick Faldo on these telecasts, thank goodness. The announcing team maintains an understated style that lets the golf speak for itself. The gem of the team is the esteemed Renton Laidlaw. With his unassuming style, sly humor and Scottish accent he can make the ugliest of shanks sound like one hit dead center.
I don’t want to disparage the other Golf Channel telecasts of the tours, I love the coverage with all the bells and whistles. It’s great to have all those technological gadgets but there is something to be said for the low key presentation of the European Tour telecasts. The pure joy of kicking back, early in the morning with a cup of tea and this month’s golf magazine with the European tournament of the week playing on The Golf Channel is one guilty pleasure I truly enjoy. Make some time to give the European Tour a watch in the morning on the weekend, or better yet during the early rounds on Thursday or Friday if you can. Don’t feel guilty about watching more golf. We deserve it.