The Challenges of Televising Golf


Editors Note: This is the first in a new series of columns by Mark Rolfing from The Golf Channel show Golf Hawaii. For more information about the show or golf in Hawaii log on to
Its been over 10 year since the Golf Channel first opened its doors in Orlando, Fla., and over that time it truly has become Golfs Home. The Golf Channel will start its 15-year deal to televise PGA TOUR tournaments on Thursday Jan. 4, when all four rounds will be broadcast live at the season opening Mercedes-Benz Championship. The world of golf will be watching and when you do keep this in mind:
I believe that golf is the most difficult on any major sport to televise. This statement might raise a few eyebrows, especially among non-golfers, but before anything else consider the size of the playing field. Where a basketball court is just 94 feet by 50 feet and a football field is only 100 yards long. A golf course causes those two to pale in size. In fact, The Plantation Course at Kapalua, home of the Mercedes-Benz Championship, sprawls over some 750 acres. Today, football is arguably Americas most popular sport and draws its largest television audiences, so Im going to use football as a comparison to golf.

As I mentioned before, a football field is 100 yards long and is delineated with nice neat lines to show everyone including the television producers and announcers exact distances. In football there are long breaks at quarters, halftimes, and timeouts to allow television to regroup. Actually television can dictate a timeout when it needs to run commercial messages. In golf, play never stops. From the first tee shot in the morning to the last putt in the afternoon the pace is relentless. Golf television producers have to accomplish all of this while play is going on.

In football, you have two teams, one ball and one score. In golf you have multiple players, balls and scores all happening at once. Think about this: there will be more than one ball lost. Have you ever seen a lost ball in football?

Having been an announcer for 20 years, I have really developed an appreciation for the people in the production units of a golf telecast. The guys and gals are good.

Obviously January 4th and many subsequent days will be huge for the Golf Channel. Im pretty sure that viewers will not only be watching the style, but the quality of the broadcast itself. So when youre watching keep an open mind and remember the difficulty of the process and I really think you will enjoy it.

Thats MY VIEW!

Editors Note: Mark Rolfing, a Maui resident, is one of the leading forces in sports event marketing and production in Hawaii. As NBC Sports award-winning golf commentator, Rolfing continues to cover top golf events such as the prestigious Ryder Cup, The Players Championship and The U.S Open. Rolfing also hosts Golf Hawaii on The Golf Channel. Golf Hawaii, now in its twelfth season is one of the longest running sports shows in the nation.