The pregame show is a rite of passage for a sport, a sign that
the game has grown beyond its loyal fan base and has mass appeal.
Television ratings for men's golf have risen 20% since 1996, the
year Tiger Woods turned pro, indicating that the time was right
for PGA Tour Sunday (11 a.m. EST), which debuted last month on
USA Network with host Fran Charles.
This is an article from the Feb. 24, 2003 issue
After six weeks, Sunday has averaged a mediocre 0.37 rating but
the Tour is going all-out to make the show a success.
High-profile players such as John Daly and Ernie Els have done
interviews, and the announcers from the major broadcast networks
have also been asked to appear. However, with great power comes
great responsibility. Here are a few ideas to improve the show.
CHANGE THE TIME SLOT. Watching poor Mark Rolfing, one of the
show's contributors, stand in the pitch black, you would have
thought he was giving reports in the middle of the night at the
Mercedes Championships. In fact, it was 6 a.m. Hawaiian time.
Rolfing and Sunday get an A for effort, but pregame shows need to
run right before the competition.
GIVE US MORE WEATHER. It's not necessary to have Jillian Barberie
bouncing around in front of a map of the U.S.--although that
wouldn't hurt--but golf is a sport in which the weather plays a
critical role, and it would be good to get a sophisticated
TRIM THE FAT. An hour is too long, and we've already seen some
time-filling fluff. The feature on Adam Sandler in Phoenix was
good, but the piece on Marc Anthony at the Sony Open was awful.
At least Sandler has been in a movie about golf (Happy Gilmore)
and knows which end of the club to hold. Only one NFL pregame
show, ESPN's, runs more than a half hour. PGA Tour Sunday should
IT'S THE PERSONALITIES, STUPID. When CBS funnymen David Feherty
and Gary McCord appeared during Phoenix Open week, they gave us a
glimpse of what drives a successful pregame show: Personality.
Think Charles Barkley on TNT's Inside the NBA. Fran Charles does
an adequate job of setting the table on PGA Tour Sunday, along
with part-time Tour pro John Cook and analyst Tim Rosaforte, who
gives us a worthwhile nugget from time to time, but Sunday
desperately needs a cleanup hitter. Our advice: Sign Feherty ...
fast. --John O'Keefe