More Golf Commentary: Turner Extends PGA Partnership, US Open Decisions

Turner announced a long-term extension to continue carrying the PGA Championship and operating PGA.com. The burning question – when will they start to leverage the asset for the value its worth? Turner should take a note from the USGA’s digital presentation of the US Open – then take it up a notch from there.

Golf is event driven, the website should reflect this with tons of in-event interaction for fans. Golf should embrace live streaming, and give the user more opportunities to customize the experience. A golf event is a microcosm of the “long-tail” effect of digital media – many story lines simultaneously playing, each with some interest. Put small, low cost cameras out on each hole, so a fan can follow players around the course, watch a mosaic view and skip around to holes, or view a specific hole. It doesn’t need to be HD production, since viewers still have the TV coverage, but supplement it.

In addition, unlock the archives and all its potential. Let users watching a hole call up shots that the same player hit in past years on that hole, or check what recent champs did on that same shot, or watch the best all-time shots on that hole or by that player or on that course – get the point, endless options. Get the footage online and tagged. Building on that, have a player instruction section with tips, have caddie’s blog, make more interactive games like the US Open, also put Fantasy games to generate more interest, allow fans to debate golf strategy and club selection during an event. Bottom line, digital media is more than throwing up some video and a Twitter feed. The PGA and Turner are behind the curve, and need to make progress for this partnership to succeed.

Back to US Open for a second, one of the most poorly run big sports events in history. Lessons. Be proactive, not reactive to potentially damaging situations. The USGA was shamed into allowing fans from Thursday’s rainout use their tickets on Monday, and were lucky to have a Monday. They should have a contingency ready for what is obviously a possible situation.

Another lesson, be content with not finishing on Sunday. Starting the third round at 7 PM on Saturday night, and the 4th round late on Sunday made NO SENSE. Golf is meant to be played in 18 hole increments, don’t start when you have no chance to finish. Fans had trouble following the tournament, players were not in the same rhythm they follow each week. Live with the fact you need Monday to finish. People will flock to the US Open, don’t put a low-quality product out to meet time constraints. It hurt the ratings, and hurt the tournament.

Another comment on fan experience, outlawing cell phones does not work in 2009. Fans complained about not being able to meet each other, not knowing the weather situation, and not knowing what’s going in general. They need to change this.

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