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Do you watch the majors on TV or do you prefer to be there in person?

Do you watch the majors on TV or do you prefer to be there in person?

Do you watch the majors on TV or do you prefer to be there in person?

Golf Chats is a website to encourage discussions on various subjects relating to the game of golf. I am Mel Sole, Director of Instruction of the Mel Sole Golf School and SAPGA Master Professional.  I invite you to enter into a discussion on this or any article on the website.  The input is for the entire subscriber base to learn something new each time!  Please post your comments below.  Keep it clean and tasteful.  We are here to learn from one another!

Every golfer excitedly awaits the first week in April for the start of the “Major Season”  The Masters. 

I always work my schedule around the Majors and make sure I’m not out of town the week of a major championship.  I love watching the majors on TV!  As an amateur in South Africa I walked around following Gary Player in every tournament he played in.  Later as a golf professional, I no longer did that.  Today, I would much rather sit in my easy chair and watch in comfort of my living room.  But tons of golfers absolutely love to watch these tournaments live.  You cannot get that “electric” feeling at home.

Here Richard Fellner of Insider Golf Magazine gives his viewpoint on the subject.   Please let me know your own comments below.

Do you watch the majors on TV or do you prefer to be there in person?

Watching golf on TV can be a family affair.

Attending a major golf tournament in person is a step up from other live tournaments, while it is also a far different experience than, say, watching it on TV. In some ways, it is significantly more exciting. In other ways, however, it can really leave you “out of the loop” as to what is going on.

The first thing you notice at a major is the extra buzz in the air.

You can sense it in the crowds, and you can even feel it when watching the players practice or warm up. Everywhere from the grandstands to the gift shop, to even the airport, pubs, and restaurants in the host city, there is a distinct feeling that screams, “This is something special.”

Seeing a tournament in person gives you a much better feel for the course and how the players approach each hole. The two-dimensional view of TV does not successfully present the fairways’ nuances, greens’ speed, the thickness of the rough,, or the overall difficulty of a shot. This is especially important when the tournament is a major, as everything is cranked up a notch, and the courses are usually more challenging than standard. The recent U.S. Open at Olympic, for example, was a far more difficult course than the TV broadcast showed, as the sloped fairways and tiered greens must be seen live to be fully appreciated. The same goes with St. Andrews, Augusta, etc.

Watching how the players approach a hole is also a great benefit to seeing it live. What side of the tee box do they start from, how narrow is the fairway when viewed from the tee, their intended line, and landing area, how much did they shape their shot to avoid a bunker, etc.? You cannot really appreciate it as much when seeing it on TV.  And the added pressure of a major makes these holes (and shots) that much more pivotal.

Do you watch the majors on TV or do you prefer to be there in person?

You cannot beat the excitement of watching golf live!

You can also walk around watching your favorite players battle it out on the toughest courses in the world. 

Here in Australia, for example, a TV broadcast of an overseas tournament may show only four or five shots by an Australian over an entire week (unless they are leading). However, seeing, seeing it liv, you can watch every shot by your top player, should you choose. That said, if your favorite player is, say, Tiger Woods or a world top 10 player, then you probably won’t see much of them through the enormous crowds that usually line the fairways for these players. For example, Tiger fans will camp out for an hour or more to see one shot, then jump ahead three or four holes to camp out again and wait for him to come around, etc. But if it is a major, then there are more top-quality players in the field, so you’ll have more players to choose from.

However, the most significant disadvantage to seeing a major in-person is sometimes feeling “out of the loop.” Whereas TV broadcasts can jump around to different pairings and show someone charging up a leaderboard on a Sunday, you really miss out on this when seeing it live. In fact, when you hear a roar of the crowd somewhere across the course, you can sometimes feel disappointed that you didn’t see it at all (and likely won’t see it until you watch the replay at home). This can make it feel anticlimactic when you follow the leaders, only to find that neither of them won. Even if you have one of the earpiece radios, you still miss out a bit. (That said, the mini TVs that were handed out at The Presidents Cup were outstanding.)

Sure, you can go to one of the giant TV screens situated in the food courts or hospitality areas around the course, but that is not really different from watching it at home.

Some courses are also poor “spectator courses,” which can detract from the overall experience. St. Andrews, for example, is not a very spectator-friendly course.  And with the cold wind and rain that is very common there (not to mention the extremely long walk from the first tee to the other end of the course where many of the grandstands are), it can make for a tough day a spectator.

If I were to offer some advice, I’d recommend going to one of the early rounds. The Tuesday/Wednesday practice days are by far the best for getting autographs and photos.  And seeing the players play several shots. Thursdays and Fridays are good to see the most players before the cut is determined. Saturday is fair because you can see good pin positions for “Moving Day,” but the crowds are usually significant. I’d avoid Sundays, as the crowds are more extensive, and the drama is better seen on TV.

Do you watch the majors on TV or do you prefer to be there in person?

Side note: If you’ve ever wondered what media members/writers do at these tournaments: We usually spend most of Wednesday or Thursdays out on the course or practice range watching the players.

The rest of the time (especially on Sundays), we sit in the media center watching a giant TV and leaderboard. It seems silly, but that is still the best way to watch a tournament.

Sources: Sporting News   Inside Golf Magazine   Richard Fellner

Pictures: Dion Hinchcliffe

Thanks for reading – Do you watch the majors on TV or do you prefer to be there in person?

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