HONOLULU – Thanks to a lot of hard work, a little luck and plenty of serendipity, the opening round of the Sony Open will be broadcast on Golf Channel, beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.
It almost didn’t happen.
With three days of suspensions and cancellations forcing a Tuesday finish at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, there were plenty of logical issues to overcome in order to televise this week’s event on the island of Oahu. The final-round broadcast finished at about 1 p.m. local time Tuesday, whereupon all of the trucks, cameras and other equipment were loaded onto a barge that left Maui that night. The barge arrived in Honolulu at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, then everything reached Waialae Country Club by 3:30.
From there, it was a race against the clock, as a crew of 90 technicians worked late into Wednesday night and were back first thing Thursday morning to ensure the broadcast would take place as scheduled.
“Typically, setup takes three days,” explained longtime NBC-Golf Channel lead producer Tommy Roy, who produced both the Hyundai tournament and is producing the Sony Open. “They’ve obviously done this in a lot less time.”
Roy credited the crew for its ability to turn three days of work into less than one.
“There are two key things that has made this happen,” he said. “One is the yeoman effort of everyone involved. And the second is that we have our regular truck. If we were coming over here without this truck, there’d be no way we’d be coming on the air with any coverage [Thursday].”
There are concessions that have been made. Rather than a full staff of cameras, Roy asked to have those on the ninth, 17th and 18thholes set up first, with RF cameras – those which can move freely throughout the course – used elsewhere, though more have been “popping up thanks to their hard work” throughout the day.
Yes, that would be throughout Thursday – during the opening round. Throwing another wrench in the plan is that much of the setup has been accomplished while players are competing on the course, which is typically not the case.
Of course, all of this should lead to one final question from viewers at home: Will we be able to tell the difference?
“Well, that’s my goal,” Roy said. “Hopefully the viewers and the PGA Tour and the sponsor Sony can’t tell the difference. I think we’re in pretty good shape to make that happen.”