"Countdown to Rio" to Premiere Sunday, July 31 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 28, 2016, 7:35 pm

 Countdown to Rio Follows Seven-Year Journey of Golf’s Return to the Olympics from: Golf Being Voted Back in as Olympic Sport in 2009; Initial Course Architect Pitches; & Building of the Course Venue

“The gold medal is going to be the biggest prize in golf” – Jack Nicklaus

“As you look out to 2020, 2024 and 2028… And let’s just assume golf is in there. This Rio design job is going to carry that torch.” – Greg Norman

“The Olympic Games, that’s the ultimate” – Gary Player

Special Episode of Feherty with Olympic Athlete, Basketball Coach Doug Collins to Premiere Monday, August 1

Golf Channel Digital Features Exclusive Tour of Olympic Course Venue Front & Back Nines with Architect Gil Hanse & Frank Nobilo’s Tee-to-Green Segments Featuring Hole-by-Hole Overview of the Course

After the most recent major champions in the 2016 professional golf season are crowned this Sunday at the PGA Championship and RICOH Women’s British Open, the golf industry will turn its attention to the sport’s return to the Olympics for the first time in 112 years, with Golf Channel providing coverage from the first tee shot to the final putt of both the men’s and women’s competitions. Golf Channel will kick off its more than 300 total hours of Olympic-themed programming with Countdown to Rio, premiering this Sunday, July 31 at 9 p.m. ET, immediately following Golf Central Live From the PGA Championship.

Seven years in the making, filming for Countdown to Rio dates back to when the IOC officially voted golf back in as an Olympic sport in October 2009, and closely follows the events that unfolded in the subsequent years, including:

October 2009 – Vote Returns Golf as an Olympic Sport for the 2016 Rio Olympics

Countdown to Rio chronicles the steps taken leading up to golf’s return to the Olympics, including the 18-month process of the International Golf Federation (IGF) making presentations to the IOC. Much of the focus centers around the potential for golf in the Olympics to act as a major catalyst in development of the game around the world.

January 2012 – Legends, Golf Architects Pitch to Design Olympic Golf Venue

With Golf Channel’s exclusive, inside access as the only cameras present in the room, Countdown to Rio reveals never previously seen footage of the architect’s presentations from the eight finalists who pitched to design the Olympic golf venue in Rio. The eight finalist groups feature some of the game’s biggest legends and golf architects, among them: Jack Nicklaus/Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman/Lorena Ochoa, Gary Player, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Doak, and Gil Hanse/Amy Alcott. Cameras capture the moment in which Gil Hanse learns his team had been chosen to construct the course.

“You sort of start to handicap [your chances] from a design standpoint. ‘Could we hold our own with these eight groups?’ And I felt like we could. Then you start to think politically. ‘Are we as connected? Do we have as big of a presence?’ No. So then it becomes, ‘We really need to work our butts off to design something good.’” – Gil Hanse

“The gold medal is going to be the biggest prize in golf” – Jack Nicklaus

“As you look out to 2020, 2024 and 2028… And let’s just assume golf is in there. This Rio design job is going to carry that torch.” – Greg Norman

“The Olympic Games, that’s the ultimate” – Gary Player 

Spring 2012 – Following Hanse and His Initial Work in Rio

Countdown to Rio follows Gil Hanse in the subsequent months after he was initially awarded the job to construct the Olympic Golf Course. Cameras follow Hanse from the early days of the construction process, where bulldozers are used to clear the land and route the holes, and ultimately begin to shape the land into a golf course setup suited for competition.

September 2013 – “Check-in” Survey Evaluating Progress of Olympic Golf Venue

Representatives from the IGF and Rio Organizing Committee meet with Hanse to survey the progress, and areas still needed to address on the course project.

March 2016 – Olympic Test Event Staged at Newly Designed Golf Venue

In an effort to gauge the readiness of the newly constructed course setup for Olympic competition, a dedicated test event was held earlier this year to ensure the playability of the venue. Cameras were on-site to chronicle the competition and capture the reactions from those in the field after having played the new layout.

Hanse Offers Exclusive Tour of the Olympic Golf Course for Golf Channel Digital

Following the completion of the golf course design process, Gil Hanse welcomed Golf Channel cameras for an exclusive tour of the golf course. Hanse shares insight on the course’s front and back nines, and explains what went into constructing an ideal venue fit for a global Olympic test for both the men’s and women’s competitions. Golf Channel Digital features the respective front and back nine tours:

Frank Nobilo’s Tee-to-Greens Prepare Viewers for New Venue

Golf Channel analyst Frank Nobilo spent time in Rio filming his signature Tee-to-Greens segments on the Olympic Golf Course. Nobilo details which holes will likely prove pivotal as players compete for their chance to win an Olympic medal. Golf Channel Digital highlights Nobilo’s Tee-to-Greens segments:

Olympic Athlete, Basketball Coach Doug Collins Joins Feherty for a Special Episode Premiering Monday, August 1

Next Monday, August 1, former Olympic athlete (1972 Munich Summer Games) and basketball coach Doug Collins will join David Feherty at 9 p.m. ET on the latest episode of Feherty. Among other topics, Collins recounts having been on the losing end of the controversial 1972 gold medal game between the United States and the Soviet Union, and what it was like to have coached Michael Jordan.

NBC SPORTS’ GOLF OLYMPIC PROGRAMMING PLANS

Men’s Olympic Golf Broadcast Team (August 11-14)

Johnny Miller, World Golf Hall-of-Famer and NBC analyst of more than 25 years will lead the network’s live tournament coverage of the men’s competition, rotating lead analyst roles with six-time major champion and Hall-of-Famer Nick Faldo in the 18th tower. David Feherty, Emmy-nominated sports personality and longtime golf broadcaster, will split time as a tower analyst and on-course reporter, and Peter Jacobsen will serve as a second tower analyst. Roger Maltbie and Curt Byrum will offer insight from inside the ropes as on-course reporters along with Feherty. Veteran NBC Olympic personalities Terry Gannon and Steve Sands will join Miller and Faldo in the broadcast booth, rotating play-by-play duties. Todd Lewis will serve as a reporter and conduct player interviews.

Women’s Olympics Golf Broadcast Team (August 17-20)

Gannon and Sands also will handle play-by-play during the women’s competition, where they’ll be joined by two additional Hall-of-Fame personalities in 10-time major champion and winner of 72 tournaments on the LPGA Tour, Annika Sorenstam, who will rotate lead analyst duties with Karen Stupples. Byrum also will join the 18th tower as an analyst, while Tom Abbott will be positioned as a tower analyst, and Jerry Foltz and Kay Cockerill will work as on-course reporters on the grounds. Lewis will conduct player interviews.

Live From the Olympics News Coverage Team

Golf Channel will provide wraparound news coverage immediately prior to and following live coverage of the competition via its Golf Central Live From the Olympics programming. Rich Lerner will host coverage from Rio’s Olympic golf course and will be joined by Faldo (men’s competition) and Stupples (women’s competition), as well as Golf Channel’s roster of analysts taking part in the network’s live coverage of the Olympics. Golf Channel insider Rex Hoggard and Lewis also will provide daily reports and offer interviews with players on-site.

Golf Makes Historic Return to the Olympics

Golf’s return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years represents a modern-day first as Golf Channel joins NBC Sports’ unmatched Olympic heritage to become the first single-sport cable network to provide live coverage of its sport’s Olympic competition. Golf Channel will feature more than 130 live hours of Olympics programming, and nearly 300 hours in total. Similar to NBC Sports’ all-encompassing coverage of marquee events like the Ryder Cup, NBC Olympics’ live coverage of the men’s and women’s competitions in Rio will begin with the opening tee shot and continue until the medals are awarded.

The International Olympic Committee in 2009 voted to bring golf back to the Olympics for the 2016 and 2020 games, after the sport had been absent in the Olympic program since the men’s competition in 1904 and women’s in 1900. Athletes will compete on the newly constructed Olympic Golf Course, which was designed by Gil Hanse and Amy Alcott in Reserva Marapendi, located in Rio de Janeiro’s neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca. Additionally, Olympic gold medalists will receive exemptions into all of their respective major championships, including: The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship in 2017 for the men, and the Evian Championship (in 2016) and ANA Inspiration, KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open, and Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2017 for the women.

NBC will feature live look-ins, highlights and updates on the golf competition throughout the Games. All Olympic competition, including golf, will be live streamed on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports Live Extra app, (Powered by Playmaker Media), both of which require authentication.

The Olympic golf competition will consist of 60 players on both the men’s and women’s side, competing in a 72-hole stroke play competition based on world golf rankings. The top-15 players in the official world golf rankings are eligible, with a maximum of four players allowed from a given nation. Outside of the top-15, each nation is allowed a maximum of two players (based on world ranking). If a country has already qualified two or more players within the top-15, additional athletes are not eligible.

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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.



Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)


Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.