PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Take the longest day in major championship golf and a network devoted exclusively to golf and the result is unprecedented coverage. NBC Sports and Golf Channel will combine to provide a record 49.5 hours of live coverage over four days from the British Open at Royal Troon.
“You go first tee shot all the way through to the raising of the claret jug,” said Mike McCarley, president of Golf for NBC Sports Group. “It will be either on Golf Channel or NBC the whole way through.”
NBC and Golf Channel picked up the British Open a year early from ESPN, and it gives the network a major after the USGA signed on with Fox. The Open will have 12 hours more than ESPN scheduled for last year.
The Masters prefers limited live television and provided 18.5 hours this year on ESPN and CBS. Fox said it will have 36.5 hours on FS1 and Fox. The PGA Championship is shown on TNT and CBS with 28 hours from Baltusrol the last week in July.
The Open Championship, with the advantage of extended summer daylight in Britain, typically starts about 6:30 a.m. and the last group went off at 4:13 p.m. at St. Andrews last year. Golf Channel and NBC, both owned by Comcast, provide a seamless transition in its weekend coverage of the PGA Tour, and this will be no different.
“We looked at a lot of different schedules and measurements. We get very scientific with how ratings work,” McCarley said. “But ultimately, we came back to the fact this is a major championship, everyone qualified to be there and they all deserve to be on the air. That’s been a philosophy of (NBC golf producer) Tommy Roy for a long time. We have the resources. We have the personnel. And we think it’s the right thing to do for the fans.”
McCarley said Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo and Frank Nobilo will rotate as the lead analyst in the 18th tower. Dan Hicks and Terry Gannon will handle the lead announcing role. The 10 analysts on the ground and other towers include the usual NBC crew (Roger Maltbie, David Feherty, Gary Koch, Peter Jacobsen, Notah Begay, Mark Rolfing) and some who mostly do Golf Channel telecasts (such as Curt Byrum and Jerry Foltz).
Golf Channel will have its studio live from Royal Troon, which will include David Duval when he gets done playing. Duval won the Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2001; Faldo is a three-time champion; and Miller won in 1976 at Royal Birkdale.
“We have a deep bench,” McCarley said. “It’s one of the benefits of having a 24-hour golf network, and we’re also fortunate enough to have three people who have an Open Championship working for us.”
The times on the East Coast will be 1:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekdays, and 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekend (2:30 p.m. on Saturday).
Still to be determined is what it will do with its “Morning Drive” show. McCarley said Golf Channel was working on something “creative” to do with it.