Friday, January 11, 2008

Golf Channel at 13

On January 17th the Golf Channel will celebrate it's 13th birthday. (The Golf Channel's launch on January 17, 1995.) Smack dab in the middle of adolescence. We all know what that age brings. Movement toward adulthood and maturity with ties to our childhood still tugging at our behavior. So, how do you think they're doing?

I became an avid golfer about two years after TGC began airing. I'd admit that watching the network was a factor in continuing with the game. I had played before, but that only meant whacking a ball around a couple of times a year with some rusting Wilson Staff butter knives that had been inherited from my dad. A successful day was if I could have one ball get more than three feet off the ground. My great buddy, Dean Miller, reintroduced me to golf and graciously sold me his original Cobra Oversize irons and woods. My oldest son is a decent player and still plays those irons. They were a real groundbreaking club whose influence is in every game improvement club on the market today.

Then I focused on the instruction available on TGC. It really appeared that someone was in my living room helping my swing. Wish I had taller ceilings. Golf Channel Academy on Monday nights was "can't miss" viewing. My VCR got a real workout. Which brings us to now, 13 years later. Granted it's difficult to air 24 hour programming for a network as specific as the Golf Channel. Imagine the Stamp Collecting Channel. So, the infomercials don't bother me and I realize money has to made. TGC signed a 15 year deal to broadcast certain PGA Tour events last year. The buzz on the street is that that results have been less than favorable. ( Golf Channel (up 33%))Pundits claim that swapping TGC distribution for ESPN's has made the product less available. I'm not so sure. It's available in 90 million homes and rabid golf fans tend to able to find golf programming. In addition, the demographic offered by golfers is a lucrative one and offsets availabilty to a measurable degree.

Signing Nick Faldo was a huge coup. He's better than I thought he'd be and my expectations were high. Nick's made a remarkable transition from golf legend/purported lout to a warm, informed, engaging host. Whatever he did, he should bottle it. I'd feed it to a few of my playing partners that think their Sunday round is a child of the US Open. I like Kelly Tilghman as Nick's foil and think she's rounding into the role nicely. Starting a PGA Tour telecast where one didn't exist is a work in progress. The BIG NETS have a national sports foundation in place and the logistics to not have to reinvent the wheel. Tournaments aside, Sprint Post Game and Golf Central are evolving in there own spaces. I don't relegate them to "must see" status, but enjoy them when I watch. They're growing in "network feel", the kind of familiarity and look that takes time to evolve.

What do you think? What's become of your TGC at 13? Where does it rank on your "must see" list. Let me know. That's why I'm here.

Til' next,



  1. First let me say that the golf channel is boring, no it’s awfully boring. I too can concede that the infomercials must be there. But not one after another, let’s spread them out. Running golf central 4 times in a row starting at 7am, is ridiculous. Maybe 7am, 12:30pm 6:30pm 11pm. Makes too much sense, dah. How about (playing lessons from the pros), would rather they evaluate a previous round played during a tournament.
    Biggest loss Peter Kessler was the man who asked all the right questions of the guests. That show is no longer user friendly or useful. They are not evolving they are fading away. In my world if they had not signed up the PGA I wouldn’t ever turn that channel on. dean

  2. Kessler was a great interviewer. He's on satellite radio now. PGA channel. Weird listening in the car to an interview. It'll be interesting to see if more people share your opinion. -Bob