The Sprint Days are a Marathon
So I got to thinking ' perhaps youd like to know a little bit about how the show is put together. Believe me: the 1-hour show you see on Wednesday night or Sunday night doesnt just happen.
Lets start with Wednesdays Sprint Pre Game. Brian Hewitt and Kelly Tilghman are regulars with me, so that part of the cast is a given. The analyst role is determined based on our Champions Tour coverage during that week. If Frank Nobilo is on the Golf Channels Champions Tour team that week, then youll see Brandel Chamblee in the studio. Likewise, if Brandels in the booth with Rich Lerner (as will be the case this week at the Ace Group Classic), then youll see Frank Nobilo with us in Orlando.
If the PGA Tour event that week is on CBS, Peter Oosterhuis will join us from that tournament site ' just as he did this week from Torrey Pines and the Buick Invitational. If NBC has coverage itll be Mark Rolfing. Brandel used to be our guy during ABC telecasts, but now hes exclusively a Golf Channel guy.
Mark Lye is playing the Champions Tour and commentating for TGC as well. That means youll see him on the show from various events, but not in studio as much as he was last year.
A week before the next Sprint Pre Game we put together a wish list of various tour guests. Steve Flesch is now a regular with us when hes playing the PGA Tour. By the way, I hope youre enjoying his work. Hes been pleasantly overwhelmed with favorable comments. Other live guests are determined by which events are the biggest and most interesting for that given week. If the LPGA is making the biggest news that week then we go that route.
Our lead producer is Eric Saperstein. He and his staff of producers begin work for Wednesdays show on Monday morning. They are assessing the stories of the week, looking back at the history of that weeks event for a proper perspective, and assembling a statistical look at the players making noise. This process requires a whole lot of research and plenty of walks to TGCs video library.
While Im in the office anchoring Golf Central on Monday and Tuesday, part of my time is spent reading articles, calling players for perspective and helping our staff secure guests. The same goes for Kelly, who spends Monday and Tuesday handling Your Game Night and the Grey Goose 19th Hole.
Brian Hewitt is one of the most thorough journalists I have ever come across. He has Golf Central duties early in the week as well but spends much of his Monday and Tuesday with his cell phone glued to his ear. You ought to see his contact list! The information he gathers gets filtered to the rest of us and is put into the show format accordingly.
For instance, if Phil Mickelsons agent provides some insight about his game or family or whatever, he makes sure thats part of our discussion regarding Phil. If we need a David Duval update hes on the phone and gathering the information to use in conversation that night. It might be the smallest of notes, but we feel like every little thing adds to your tournament knowledge for the week.
Tuesday is the day that I put my voice on the tease that you see at the beginning of the show. One of our producers is assigned the job of creating the words, the feel and the look of that segment to get the show going. We look at the script together and Ill make my adjustments. A one-minute tease might take 4 hours to assemble and edit!
Wednesday is show day! Our producers are in by mid-morning. Anchors are in by 1 p.m. ET and well meet at 2 p.m. The meeting is a gathering of producers and anchors; a rundown of what each of the seven segments of the show will consist of; and a batch of stories and statistics.
From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., well go our separate ways to assemble scripts and do our own research. For Kelly, Brian and me that means phone calls to make, Internet articles from various newspapers around the world to read, and a look at video highlights or breakdowns. Brandel and/or Frank spends time in the edit rooms looking at video tape of players' swings and tough holes on that weeks courses. We may, or may not, tape an interview that you will see that night. This depends on the guests schedule. (Were not going to tell Clint Eastwood or Mike Weir that its live or else!)
If its Sunday, were in by 1 p.m. and watching golf tournaments together all afternoon, and deciding which storylines are critical for analysis. Thats Brandel's and Franks jobs to tell us what they want to break down.
Make-up (some of us need a lot) happens about one hour before showtime. Then its a final look at the rundown, a little chat among us about the direction of the show and a chat between Saperstein, producer Matthew Hegarty, me and Director Eric Rutledge -- usually not all together.
We now hit air at 7:30 p.m. Were on the set at 7:15, putting on microphones and doing the final checklist. At 7:30 its Hi Folks! And if were doing our jobs properly, its the beginning of an hour to inform and entertain.
We are all role players. Despite what some perceive, I promise you we get along. In fact, we usually go out for a bite after the show on Wednesday. Kelly has dubbed it The Pre Game Post-Game. And guess what: part of that get-together includes talk about what viewers might find interesting on the very next show!
Email your thoughts to Kraig Kann
What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:
Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft
Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts
Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff
Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.
While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.
Watching Andrew Landry and Jon Rahm in playoff. Walking off tee talking to each other. Are you kidding me ? Talking at all. ?— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.
0 words— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
The issue is I don’t want to make you a bit relaxed or comfortable. High pressure, good.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you watch the end of the NFL games yesterday ? Enough said.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
I didn’t say you couldn’t be friends and competitive. But in a playoff, 1 tiny mistake and you lose, and that devastated me. Friends before and after, competitors during play.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
Did you win ? It’s all about surviving the competition to test yourself.— Curtis Strange (@golf_strange) January 22, 2018
So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.
Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over
The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.
As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.
Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.
And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.
And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.
McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.
The Ryder Cup topped his list.
Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.
When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.
“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”
McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.
Or similar assertions from TV analysts.
“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”
European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.
And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.
The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.
Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.
And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.
Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.
The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.
The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.
More bulletin board material, too.
Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.
Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions
Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.
The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.
The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”
Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.