Having just come back from one of the practice days at The Open I can’t help feel disappointed that many of us won’t be able to watch it live on TV. For those that are interested but don’t have Sky we have to settle for a compilation of highlights late in the evening. Why have those that are supposed to be guardians of the sport hidden it away? How are we ever going to “Grow the Game” if we can’t let everyone see all the great things that go on. How are the finances of the sport in such a state that we need to sell the rights to the highest bidder instead of the biggest coverage for the flagship events? I will be honest and say I know nothing about TV rights deals. However I do know it makes it much harder for those that want more people enjoying the game and growing the industry to engage with new and existing golfers if they can’t see it free on TV.
You only have to look at what’s happening in Tennis to see what great energy and enthusiasm is created when everyone can watch the game! Tennis has been all over our TV screens and we have been able to witness some truly amazing and games for both men and women at Wimbledon, Queeen’s and Eastbourne. The media coverage for tennis particularly on the BBC has been great, everyone with a TV can enjoy the excitement. This last month has provided some great exposure to the sport and encourages thousands of potential and existing players to go out and play – just what is needed in golf. This is a very different position to coverage on the pay channels, which generally have lower audiences, most of which are enthusiasts for their chosen sports already. How many kids are going to see any of The Open this year?
Equally interesting was Mike Bushell’s piece on the BBC Breakfast recently. He was covering the “Game, Set, Mug” challenge, also featured on social media, that was firing up not only children as young as four but tour players too: Andy Murray clocking up a score of 14!
Hats off to the marketing of tennis where excitement and interest for the sport is generated not only during June and July but also at such events as the Davis Cup. There the audience’s enthusiasm almost bubbles over, making great television and creates an appealing image for the sport.
Changes are a foot with the invent of events like the Golf Sixes – which is encouraging. But I cant help think that Golf needs to rethink its plans for letting people see the sport. Times are changing and we should recognize that the highest paid and most marketable stars are no longer holding golf clubs but are running around with tennis rackets. Check out the Forbes rich list – Roger Federer is 4th with 6 tennis stars in the top 100. Golf has 5. Importantly for Tennis and Roger he is the highest earner in terms of endorsements and that was before his last run of success!