Storin: NBC's US Open broadcasts could have been better

storapse@aol.comJune 20, 2013 

"Let's go! While we're young."

Who would believe that a line from the 1980 movie Caddyshack is the theme of the U.S. Golf Association in 2013? Certainly not the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, who barked those words at actor Ted Knight as he repeatedly waggled his driver on the first tee.

"While We're Young" was introduced in a series of public service TV announcements during the U.S. Open tournament last week. The spots feature, among others, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Clint Eastwood.

The goal is to get golfers to speed up their game. Pace of play has been an issue for years, and the USGA believes that has been driving people from the links.

"The idea sprang from need," USGA President Glen Nagler said at a news conference prior to last week's tournament at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia.

Good for the USGA, although I did find the commercials a bit too repetitive over the four days of TV coverage.

Speaking of being "repetitive," I thought NBC's coverage went overboard with constant replays of memorable moments of Merion tournament history.

How many times did we need to see Lee Trevino pull that fake snake out of his bag to the amusement of playing partner Jack Nicklaus at the 1971 tournament? How many times did we need to be reminded of Ben Hogan's miracle 1-iron shot on Merion's 18th hole in 1950?

I may be in the minority here, but when I tune in a tournament on TV, I want to know what is going on right now. I can take a little nostalgia, but NBC went over the top last weekend.

For instance, the first two hours of coverage both Saturday and Sunday were heavily devoted to history, vignettes and long feature interviews by Jimmy Roberts. I think NBC sometimes goes out of its way to give airtime to Roberts, whom the network tabs "an essayist."

And aren't there far too many times that announcers are interviewing each other? Just how many people (in the TV industry they call them "talent") do you need to cover a tournament? There were at least a dozen vying for camera time at Merion.

The only golfers who got any coverage between noon and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday were Tiger Woods and Rory McIroy. And by noon on Sunday both were out of contention.

Oh, yes, they did show Shawn Stefani's historic hole-in-one on the tough par-3 17th hole Sunday.

NBC's policy throughout the Sunday telecast was to concentrate on the leaders. That's understandable, but sometimes a leader suddenly disappears from the listings and we are left to wonder what happened.

Luke Donald, Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel, among the leaders Sunday morning, suddenly were missing -- with little explanation -- by mid-afternoon.

Ian Poulter is another example. Late in his round Saturday he was within a couple of strokes of the lead. The camera caught him hitting a ball out of bounds on the 15th hole and we never saw him again, either Saturday or Sunday.

Which brings me to my biggest beef of all.

Why is it that NBC so seldom runs the entire scoreboard during its 15 hours of weekend air time?

This is in contrast to ESPN, which often streamed the scoreboard -- both alphabetically and numerically -- during its Thursday and Friday telecasts.

How about it NBC? Take a page from the USGA and Rodney Dangerfield and give us the scores "while we're young."

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