Why We Should Be Celebrating The Masters TV Coverage

Rather than trying to pick holes in it there's so much to love about Sky Sports' coverage of Augusta

Why We Should Be Celebrating The Masters TV Coverage
(Image credit: Augusta National/Getty Images)

Rather than trying to pick holes in it there's so much to love about Sky Sports' coverage of Augusta

Why We Should Be Celebrating The Masters TV Coverage

Once upon a time we barely got a sniff of the front nine at Augusta National.

Then, in 2001, the BBC announced a three-year commitment with the Masters to admit British viewers into the first nine holes with an expanded deal to bump up the live coverage to 14 hours.

These days we get wall-to-wall coverage of classic Masters from years gone by, live range sessions, Masters Breakfasts, normally the Par 3 and live coverage gets going at 2pm on Thursday and Friday.

From there we get to follow the Featured Groups before slipping into live coverage as we settle into our evenings.

And still we moan. We’ve become spoilt.

We get this every week in the States where he have the awkward period where we’re waiting to go live where we know, and they know, that there’s an awful lot of padding by our Sky friends but still they see us through.

Fair play to them, we’ve got Sarah Stirk, Nick Dougherty, Wayne Riley and Andrew Coltart tucked away in West London, Butch Harmon is in Vegas, Paul McGinley and Rich Beem are out in Georgia and, presumably, Ewen Murray is at home in Sussex?

Any other normal year and Sky would be going as one to Augusta, for the past two tournaments they’ve had to fudge things a little but they’ve still managed to knock out 11 or so hours of live coverage a day.

Many of us have hazy memories of Augusta and the BBC but they generally came on board at around 8pm, when half the field were done and dusted for the day, before we ambled gently into the late hours.

Now, we’re all over it from early afternoon. The in-house hole graphics may well resemble a pop-up railway but they’re pretty special when you cast your mind back to how much insight we used to be given.

And, if you haven't yet discovered the Masters app/website, then it's genuinely a thing of beauty to complement your viewing with the ability to watch every single shot of every single player. Deleting the app on Monday morning is like laying to rest one of your nearest and dearest.

The ace in the Sky pack is undoubtedly Harmon. If you want a bit of colour, fun and incredible inside-the-ropes wisdom then he’s your man. He’s happy to admit that he’s not overly familiar with the likes of Bob MacIntyre nor Matt Wallace but, generally speaking, he ‘likes the look of this young man’ and, better still, it’s all genuine.

And he’s funny – earlier in the week he described Will Zalatoris as ’He’s so skinny, he’s like a 1-iron without the grip’.

If only they could get his feed of pictures up to speed so he’s watching the same action as the rest of us.

There is the odd clanger and repeated generalisation – how many times do we need to be told that it’s easier to draw a 3-wood rather than the driver at the 10th? – but surely we can cut everyone a bit of slack. They’d love to be all together, out there at Augusta, for now they’ve done us proud.

Mark Townsend
Contributing editor

Mark has worked in golf for over 20 years having started off his journalistic life at the Press Association and BBC Sport before moving to Sky Sports where he became their golf editor on skysports.com. He then worked at National Club Golfer and Lady Golfer where he was the deputy editor and he has interviewed many of the leading names in the game, both male and female, ghosted columns for the likes of Robert Rock, Charley Hull and Dame Laura Davies, as well as playing the vast majority of our Top 100 GB&I courses. He loves links golf with a particular love of Royal Dornoch and Kingsbarns. He is now a freelance, also working for the PGA and Robert Rock. Loves tour golf, both men and women and he remains the long-standing owner of an horrific short game. He plays at Moortown with a handicap of 6.