Major(s) News & Notes January 19th, 2023
Dissecting news from the CW, NBC and CBS. Plus, GQ's Netflix doc story, Love is back (again), the 2031 Ryder Cup favorite, Stallings gets his invite, golf auction news and a bunch of Reads.
Days to the 2023 Masters first tee shot: 78
Long-range Augusta forecast: near normal temps with above-normal precipitation.
Days to the 2023 Chevron Championship: 92
Days to the 2023 PGA Championship 120
Days to the 2023 U.S. Open: 148
Days to the 2023 Open Championship: 183
Days to the 2023 Ryder Cup: 254
Our prayers have been answered: LIV Golf landed a media partner.
Now they just need a full schedule!
The upstart league will be shown to willing Americans on Nexstar’s CW, the fifth of five networks that reaches 99% of American households with at least one television. Beyond the numbers, the CW will get LIV in front of two key audiences unable to access YouTube:
Residents of The Villages who adore its afternoon programming slate.
The second homes of select billionaires who can’t figure out a Roku remote but who might be lured into buying a piece of Captain Cam Smith’s Greezy Mullets.
The news was first reported by SBJ’s John Ourand and confirmed after David Feherty let it slip during a Florida dinner theater gig. Official word will come Thursday and long after The Quad hits the printing press. But we have SI.com’s Bob Harig to fill out enough details to tell us this might have repercussions for the rest of golf on TV:
The CW will get the Saudi-backed league into more homes than channels like ESPN, USA Network, Fox Sports 1 or Golf Channel currently reach.
A revenue sharing arrangement makes this very different than reports Fox wanted to be paid to carry LIV.
The league airing ad free appears over.
Its free YouTube/LIV.com status remains unclear.
PGA Tour partners Warner Brothers Discovery and Paramount/CBS both have programming deals with the CW that are in the process of being phased out. (The C still stands for CBS and the W for Warner as of now.) It’s actually a complicated mess explained here.
Before you start making Buffy and Vampire Diaries jokes, the network’s average age viewer is a spry 58. Meaning the CW hits the golf audience sweet spot and might not do so terribly. But do keep the age number in mind when Greg Norman touts the young demo they’ll be reaching.
Nexstar’s future plans include less of the costly original programming supplied by its current partners, making the revenue-sharing LIV deal a no-brainer replacement for weekend afternoons currently populated by Jack Hanna reruns and Nutrisystem infomercials. Whether any of this makes a meaningful difference in LIV’s bottom line and reach remains to be seen. But rest assured, this will grow the game.
Back in the real golf world, we have news of NBC committing to showing the U.S. Women’s Open in prime time, CBS’s Masters schedule, juicy Netflix reveals, Task Force Godfather Davis Love signing up for another Cup, news of a non-British Ryder Cup front-runner for 2031, vital follow-up on the Scott Stallings invite saga, fun auction news and plenty of This, That and ICYMI reads.
NBC To Show 4 Women’s Majors, 30 Hours Of Coverage
With the Chevron moving to late April and away from the busy pre-Masters weekend, it’s official: the first women’s major of 2023 will move to network television.
NBC Sports announced plans to broadcast a record 41 hours of LPGA coverage this year, with 30 of those hours devoted to four of the five women’s majors. The headline items from the announcement:
The third and fourth rounds of the U.S. Women’s Open will be presented live in prime time from Pebble Beach. This is the first time NBC or any network has scheduled a women’s major to air live in prime time.
For a second consecutive year, USA Network will have live coverage of the U.S. Women’s Open and the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath.
Overall the combined networks of NBC will show 450 hours of the LPGA Tour’s 35-event schedule, including 30 hours of the Solheim Cup from Spain.
CBS will carry three LPGA final rounds in June and July. Speaking of…
CBS Plans Traditional Masters, PGA Time Windows
In a tradition unlike any other, CBS announced its 2023 golf coverage plan to once again max out Masters third round coverage at just four hours (3-7 p.m. ET) while keeping its final round window at five hours (2-7 p.m. ET).
To be fair, the network can point to the sensational online streaming options leading up to their coverage and expected to include Featured Groups, On the Range and Featured Holes. We can ask for a Featured Holes set of the 1st-3rd instead of the 4th-6th, but don’t get your hopes up.
For May’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the network announced weekend windows of 1-7 p.m. ET. Coverage is expected to be preceded by early coverage on ESPN.
GQ Story Highlights Several Netflix Doc Details
In the February GQ, Sam Schube drops a feature on his time watching Netflix “Full Swing” filming and he shares plenty of fun anecdotes:
Netflix execs vetoed the planned first episode launching with a brooding Brooks Koepka.
PGA Tour execs asked what would happen if players were heard swearing.
Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas play for a lot of money guessing cards.
The creators drew the lucky break they needed by having an insider presence during Matthew Fitzpatrick’s breakout season and at the end of his U.S. Open win.
The GQ story suggests producers hope to document the pre-Ryder Cup build-up late this summer, but the writer stops short of confirming a Season 2 renewal.
In other doc news, PA’s Phil Casey spoke to Justin Thomas about “Full Swing” and he joked about wondering if the streaming service “knew something we didn’t” after getting to capture the wild off-course tussling.
“It is mindblowing when it started at the beginning of the year and the amount of storylines just through players and what they’re trying to accomplish. I don’t think anybody could have been sitting here at this time last year and said what was going to happen.
“I’m excited to watch and it couldn’t have really drawn up a better year or situation as to what happened throughout the course of the year.”
Thomas added that he’s seen his episode. It is expected to offer an insider view of his PGA Championship win at Southern Hills.
Netflix recently dropped its tennis version, “Break Point.” It’s heavy on the “hard” word and loaded with surprisingly pedantic stuff about how a tennis match works.
Spoiler alert: it takes six games to win a set and three of five sets to win a men’s match. But only two of three sets in the women’s game. My apologies for the reveal.
The good news for golf? Schube’s reporting regarding the amount of effort put into “Full Swing” makes it sound infinitely more promising.
The show launches Wednesday, February 15th.
Love Loves His Cart Driving
United States Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson named Davis Love as one of his forty-three Vice Captains for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Rome, joining the already-named Steve Stricker who captained the 2021 team.
Love has twice served as Captain (1-1), three times as a Vice Captain (1-2), as well as playing six Ryder Cups (2-4 team record, 9-11-5 personal record). He’s got Task Force emeritus status and is apparently not ready to let fresh eyes join the group texts or see the secret analytics sauce.
“I've been involved in the Ryder Cup since 2006, and I can tell you, without a doubt, that Davis Love III's passion for the event is unmatched,” said Johnson in a press release. “As I thought about the 2023 U.S. Team and those who we'd ask to serve as a Vice Captain, there was no doubt that Davis would be one of those individuals. I will lean heavily on the experience and insight of DLIII in Italy as the U.S. Team works to retain the Ryder Cup.”
Telegraph: PGA Catalunya Emerges As Frontrunner
The Telegraph’s James Corrigan says that Spain and specifically, PGA Catalunya, “emerged as favourite to win the bid for the 2031 Ryder Cup, despite England’s strong candidature to host.”
The venue in question was built with the 1997 Ryder Cup in mind. But delays and the influential Jaime Ortiz-Patiño helped Valderrama get the nod. Ortiz-Patiño has since passed away and his club ended a long DP World Tour partnership by welcoming a LIV Golf event in 2023.
Corrigan notes an important element in PGA Catalunya’s favor:
It is owned by Irishman Denis O’Brien, who has spent millions in an overhaul and upgrades since his 2007 purchase, and has the added benefit of a promised £100 million government backing at both national and regional level.
Stallings Finally Gets His Masters Invite
A few weeks after waiting for a 2023 Masters invitation only to find out that another Scott Stallings in greater Knoxville got the coveted envelope, the world No. 54 confirmed delivery in an entirely organic way.
Stallings Armor All’d the tire treads of his over-compensatory Bronco, drove only part way down his driveway, and was miraculously greeted at the mailbox by a camera-wielding person. America!
Auction: Jones At Augusta, Rocco’s ‘08 Pin Sheet
The latest Golden Age auction lot features several major-related items of note.
A 1931 image of Bobby Jones during construction of Augusta National features laborers and construction supervisor Wendell Miller surveying the scene.
Rocco Mediate's 2008 US Open Playoff pin sheet signed by Tiger and Rocco.
Oh and Young Tom Morris’ rookie card looks pretty swell, too.
This, That And Tweets
🇸🇪 James Corrigan talks to Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald about former captain Henrik Stenson making a return to DP World Tour play this week after giving up the 2023 gig for Saudi Arabia’s millions.
🙍♂️ Not having received enough attention for complaining about the official Ryder Cup Twitter account overlooking Sergio Garcia’s birthday, Ian Poulter says he’s unsure about playing in Rome if he somehow qualified.
🇵🇦 Santa María Golf Club of Panamá will host 2024 Latin America Amateur Championship. This will be the second visit to Panamá for the ninth annual event, but the first playing at the Nicklaus Design opened in 2012. Last week, Mateo Fernandez de Oliveira captured the 2023 LAAC to earn spots in the Masters, U.S. Open and The Open.
🏌️♀️ Jonathan Wall explains why Nelly Korda added a Taylormade equipment deal to her Nike clothing announcement, giving the company another top 10 female in its player stable after years of largely ignoring the women’s game.
🇸🇦 The LIV guys can’t get enough of Saudi Arabia’s St Andrews, a.k.a. Royal Greens, where they will all turn up to kiss the Crown Prince’s ring February 2-5 for the Saudi-backed Asian Tour event. The full field is posted here and Sean Zak noted this about the participants:
Construction work has begun to create subterranean men’s and women’s locker facilities around the R&A clubhouse. Pray of the gulls who no longer greet golfers while hunting in the R&A trash cans for leftovers:
🚍 Gabrielle Herzig on Jordan Spieth and his young family planning to travel via RV this year.
🏜 Larry Bohannan suggests Bob Hope week is not missing its defending champion Hudson Swafford or Phil Mickelson who spent most of his time hosting at the Madison Club.
🧐 Beth Ann Nichols revealed the lack of a locker room at the LPGA’s season opening Tournament of Champions. A day later, the tournament is addressing the issue, though the ubiquitous celebrity circuit’s favorite Lake Nona member, Annika Sorenstam, lamented the attention given to the story.
🇬🇧 Mike Clayton on the Dark Ages of British golf design and signs the worst is behind us.
🌧 Paul Duginsky offers somewhat of a theory on the El Niño-like parade of storms battering California despite a La Niña forecast.
📺 Gavin Bridge shares eye-opening numbers on what current cable channels would cost in an unbundled, a la carte world. ESPN and sister channels SEC Network and ACC Network would total nearly $70 a month.
💼 Steve Mollman says Disney, Starbucks and News Corp are among the major corporations who no longer find remote work setups attractive. The rejuvenated golf business will wait anxiously to see what impact the push to get workers back in offices might have on the recent rounds resurgence.
🌿 Judy Siegel-Itzkovich of the Jerusalem Post explains a Finish study finding that frequent visits to green spaces may be linked to lower use of certain prescription meds for depression, anxiety, asthma and high blood pressure. Golf courses were not included in the study, but you get the drift.
👮🏻♂️ Ella Ide of AFP on how Italian mafia hunters cleverly tracked down and captured Sicilian mobster Matteo Messina Denaro.
🤢 Here’s a trifecta you don’t want to hit: New York oil baron Robert Belfer lost billions in the collapse of Enron, invested with Bernie Madoff, and now, according to an FT story, has taken a major hit in Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange. Here is a NY Post version off the subscriber-only FT story.
🏡 Andrew Asch says an unnamed Saudi has lowered the asking price by $10 million for The Manor, which sits adjacent to 2023 U.S. Open host L.A. Country Club. The price is now $155 million, or $35 million more than the buyer paid for Aaron Spelling’s once-controversial dream house featuring fantastic views into the cork oak grove along LACC’s par-5 14th.
A few housekeeping notes: my book Golf Architecture for Normal People is available for pre-order now on Amazon and is scheduled for a June 1 release. I’ll bore you with more in the coming months. Also, we still have a few spots left on the UK trip set for late August in East Lothian prior to the Walker Cup. And two McKellar pods with host Lawrence Donegan are in the can: last week’s is live while due imminently as we load ink into the Quad presses is our Wednesday chat with Bob Harig on Tiger, Phil, LIV and the CW. Subscribe wherever you get your pods and have a great one,
Wow, I would not have guessed about the viewership. I don't know the numbers here in D.C., but it's a non-factor as far as reach in this area.
For what it’s worth consider ordering Geoff’s new book through an independent local bookstore if there’s one in your area. It’s typically the case that they have websites that are as easy to use as Amazon. Preorders are important for authors for a number of reasons wherever you do them.