BBC or Sky: Who covered the 2017 US Masters better?

BBC or Sky: Who covered the US Masters better?

BBC or Sky: Who covered the US Masters better? After comparing their respective performances, here is the Golf Monthly perspective.

The 2017 US Masters will be long remembered for an incredible duel between two of the modern game’s great ball-strikers. However, this was not the only head-to-head battle of the week. Both Sky and the BBC broadcast live coverage of the last two rounds giving many golfers in the UK the chance to compare the two. So, BBC or Sky: Who covered the US Masters better? Here is the Golf Monthly perspective.

Related: This year's Masters TV Coverage


What we liked

As the Sunday evening action came to a close, Hazel Irvine wrapped up the coverage with her final broadcast for the BBC from Augusta. It was a poignant moment for the BBC’s lead golf anchor, calling time on 25 years of consecutive Masters coverage. Irvine has been a consummate professional throughout and despite the BBC’s growing absence from the game, her knowledge of the sport remains pinpoint sharp. We also enjoyed the commentary of Paul Azinger (sounds a lot like Rich Beem…) and Andrew Cotter, whose voice you might recognise from 6-Nations rugby but who is also at home talking about golf.

What we didn’t like

What can we say about Peter Alliss? Over the years, nobody has commentated on golf like him and his humorous, unpredictable style still has its place. However, this may have been one Masters too far for the ‘voice of golf’. At times he was confused but we could live with the odd inaccuracy if it wasn’t for his persistently cantankerous tone. Whether it was his frustration over a player’s choice of shot or weariness of those offering swing analysis of the game, Alliss came across as bitter and disillusioned. His downbeat approach was at odds to the majesty of the course and the excitement of the action.

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What we liked

The introduction of Padraig Harrington was a master stroke. Nobody thinks about the game more deeply than the likeable Irishman and he offered a new perspective and genuine insight. Tim Barter remains the best post-round interviewer, his questions reveal a deeper understanding of the game resulting in more insight coming from the interviewee. More generally, the Sky golf team follow the Tour week-in, week-out and this is a crucial point. They know the players better and as a result the insight from the likes of Butch Harmon, Paul McGinley and Rich Beem is a few levels up from the BBC.

Related: David Cannon's best ever Masters pictures

What we didn’t like

The introduction of Thomas Bjorn into the fray was a strange choice. He might be destined for the European Ryder Cup captaincy but his selection was clearly based on something other than his charisma. His monotone delivery came with a sense of ‘going through the motions’ and it failed to deliver the same insight alternative Sky voices would have offered.

BBC or Sky: Who covered the US Masters better? GM Verdict

That golf appears to be dropping off the BBC radar is a crying shame. It is one of this country’s leading participation sports and the excitement of the 2017 US Masters showed than even in today’s world’s of bite-sized entertainment, it still has its place. Sky have shown a true commitment to golf and as a result, their coverage of this Masters was deeper, more innovative and more knowledgable.

Neil Tappin

In July 2023, Neil became just the 9th editor in Golf Monthly's 112-year history. Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he has also presented many Golf Monthly videos looking at all areas of the game from Tour player interviews to the rules of golf. 

Throughout his time with the brand he has also covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points. 

Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons: PING Blueprint S (4&5), PING Blueprint T (6-PW) Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X