Sky TV ignores stand-out issue

Added on October 23rd, 2018 by Lorne Smith
Posted in Greenkeeping, TV Coverage

Why does Sky television coverage of the British Masters ignore the stand-out issue?

The British Masters at Walton Heath couldn’t have had better weather – predominantly dry in the run-up and then windy – to test the players and Eddie Pepperell’s was a popular win. It brought pro golf back to an inland running-course, I think, for amazingly the first time for 27 years. It was lovely to see the famous ‘Port Arthur’ green complex (for this tournament, the third hole) still flummoxing the pros as it did at the beginning of the last century!
The conditions challenged those players inexperienced at playing from heathland heather, requiring their drives to be accurately controlled to stay on the firm, fast-running, fescue fine-grassed fairways.
Nevertheless, the greens, though aerated and┬áheavily top-dressed with pure sand over the last three years by course manager Michael Mann’s excellent greenkeeping team, were still soft and receptive to the ball as annual meadow grass (Poa annua) weed grass greens will be, making it an easier test for the players as the pins could to be attacked even downwind and the ball stopped quickly.
The really remarkable thing is that nobody, neither Sky commentators nor any of the players interviewed that I saw, ever queried why on the same course the fairways were firm and running while the greens were soft? They kept mentioning the difference but the reason behind this dichotomy in greenkeeping presentation was completely ignored!

Doesn’t this dichotomy provide a fascinating extra story-line that is fundamental as to how the course is played and would attract and be of interest to golfing viewers?

This raises the question of why Sky have a policy of ignoring greenkeeping beyond thanking them for the slog of early morning cutting of ‘any old grass’, thereby downgrading the esteem of this profession?
The only explanation FineGolf can come up with, assuming the Sky executives are not dim, is because the vast majority of pro golf that they cover is played on soft ‘Target’ Poa annua grassed courses. They don’t see it as commercially advantageous to talk about the greenkeeping dichotomy between fine and weed grasses as this would raise the difficult question of conservationism, with the need to talk about reducing over-watering and lowering inputs of fertiliser and pesticides.
Nevertheless society at large is increasingly coming to that conclusion and if golf TV refuses to discuss golf’s ‘running-game’ conservationism, the game of golf is missing a trick and will suffer down the line.
The R&A don’t seems to have any similar commercial incentive, while certainly having responsibility to give long-term vision and leadership to golf. Should this include organising the defence of the traditional values of the game against the inevitable ‘Watermelon’ activists (marxist red on the inside, hidden by environmentalist green on the outside) who see golf as a toff’s sport and could use the unsustainability of chemical greenkeeping of Poa to attack all that we love in this fine game?
Should not also the traditional values of ‘running-golf’ be defended and promoted more by the leadership of BIGGA, the greenkeeper’s national body?

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