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.
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.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has 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 (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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