8 noticeable changes coming to CBS Golf broadcasts in 2024

CBS Golf returns this weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open with a new season of tricks up their sleeve. Here’s what to watch for.

The post 8 noticeable changes coming to CBS Golf broadcasts in 2024 appeared first on Golf.

CBS Golf returns this weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open with a new season of tricks up their sleeve. Here’s what to watch for.

The post 8 noticeable changes coming to CBS Golf broadcasts in 2024 appeared first on Golf.

Of the many 21st-century additions to the working lives of Americans, it is my opinion that Zoom is among the worst.

My disdain is not any fault of Zoom’s, really. It’s more that the omnipresence of video communication has caused a half-second of lag time to turn every conversation into a polite compendium of umms and ahhs. This is no way to speak intelligibly to colleagues and supervisors, and it is certainly no way to speak to someone like, say, Jim Nantz.

Have you ever noticed that Zoom calls seem to have a disproportionately large number of awkward pauses? How about the fact that the contemporaries who speak most on Zoom calls are often those who most enjoy boisterous interjection? Strange, isn’t it, that Zoom seems to reward those of us with the least common courtesy for our peers? (It is possible, the author recognizes, that deep-seated childhood memories of being spoken over may contribute to these observations more than the behavior of his GOLF counterparts.)

In short, Zoom is not a preferred method of conversation for a writer as communicatively fragile as this one, and particularly not a conversation with some of the most impressive figures in the sport of golf television. But as perhaps you already know, it is fairly difficult to get Jim Nantz, Trevor Immelman and Sellers Shy — the three lead figures of CBS’s glimmering golf broadcast — in a room at the same time. And so when the author was offered time on Zoom with the three of them before the start of a hugely important 2024 PGA Tour season, he overcame his fear of embarrassment and said yes.

Zoom would not keep the author from embarrassing himself with a faulty question to Nantz about his tenure at CBS (sheesh!), but it would provide a window into the state of the CBS Golf telecast that many golf fans are likely interested in peering through.

Change has hovered over CBS in the last few seasons, seeing three of the network’s most impactful voices depart in as many years. The shifts have largely been good for “The Eye”, ushering in a new era of excitement and technological advancement around its coverage, but not all change is the same. In 2024, CBS will undergo yet another slate of changes — the first of which will take effect starting this Friday at 5 p.m. ET at Torrey Pines, site of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Here are eight of the biggest adjustments we’ll see from CBS in 2024.

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1. A legend is retiring

If the members of the CBS Golf team do their jobs properly, they hope you’ll never notice the departure of longtime CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus following the Masters in April. But his retirement after 28 years at the helm remains a source of melancholy for those on the staff, many of whom have worked the majority (or even entirety) of their careers at CBS under McManus.

In his tenure at CBS, McManus was responsible for inking multiple media rights deals with the PGA Tour, for maintaining the network’s six-decades-long relationship with the Masters and Augusta National and for installing the current leadership group (Nantz, Immelman and Shy, among many others) that has springboarded the network’s golf coverage forward. A former producer who never lost sight of his production background, he will retire in April as one of the most revered executives in the sports TV business.

“I’m grateful for what he’s done to make CBS Golf so special,” Nantz said Tuesday. “He was committed to excellence for this for the CBS golf team. We’re fortunate.”

2. A new leader is taking over

McManus is leaving longtime protege David Berson to succeed him after the conclusion of the Masters in April — a fitting ending, Nantz says, for a historic career.

“Sean is a leader of a giant division at a major network, he has all these things that he’s responsible for, namely the NFL, the giant of all giants, and then you’ve got the likes of college football and basketball, March Madness — many other things,” he said. “He treated golf like it was bigger than anything. That doesn’t mean he’s slighted anyone else. But golf was absolutely a part of his lifeblood, and we are the beneficiaries of it.”

3. There’s new production equipment

As part of the new(ish) broadcast contract with the PGA Tour, the Tour has outfitted several new production trucks for use at this year’s Tour coverage for both NBC and CBS. We’ll have a ton more on this in a few weeks on the Hot Mic newsletter, but there’s reason to believe it’ll be a boon for viewers at home as much as it is for the production staffers who will be using them.

4. Walk-and-talks are back (and better!)

CBS earned major kudos with golf fans last year at the Farmers when it announced the creation of the walk-and-talk interview segment during play with Max Homa — who went on to win that week — and continued throughout the entirety of the 2023 season, including a surprise series of interviews at the Masters.

The network looks to enhance its efforts with the walk-and-talks in ’24, returning the concept for another season and hoping to expand upon the star-studded list of 18 players who participated in the interviews last year.

5. Shiny new cameras mean shiny new looks

It’s hard to talk to Sellers Shy, CBS Golf’s lead producer, without asking about the latest-and-greatest innovations on the visual side.

Under Shy’s leadership, the network has turned in some of the most visually compelling golf coverage in the sport’s history, debuting a series of new tech innovations and “old-fashioned” camera updates that have served to give CBS’s coverage a premium feel.

Nowhere is that more obvious in 2024 than in the addition of a new “Falcon360 FlyCam” — a 360-degree, 4K camera that will be debuted for the first time in 2024 on the West Coach Swing. The network will also deploy new flycam and “dragonfly” cameras on the 17th hole at Pebble, overlooking the famed Stillwater Cove.

“You know, we can brainstorm about all kinds of things but you not only have to have a little trust from your executives, but you also have also need financial support,” Shy said. “[CBS executives have] given our team both, and you can’t put a price on that.”

6. They’ve expanded their “on-course set”

The creation of Amanda Balionis and Colt Knost’s “on-course set” on the 16th hole of last year’s WM Phoenix Open proved a welcome innovation for golf fans who enjoyed the pair’s commentary on what is annually the most fun par-3 in golf.

The pair will link up for a series of additional runs with the on-course set in 2024 at some of CBS’s biggest venues, including the Canadian Open’s famed “rink” hangout.

7. They’re doubling down on striking visuals

Perhaps you’re already familiar with Atlas cameras, the ultra-HD cameras that showcase brilliant depth-of-field in their shots. These cameras gave CBS’s coverage from last year’s signature event series a cinematic feel, and were universally lauded for their enhancements to the overall golf coverage experience.

In ’24, they’ll be utilized at all CBS Golf events, including the signature events. Some of the Siggies will also feature a 4K bunker camera (first displayed next month’s Genesis Invitational) in addition to a series of added instantaneous shot tracers and updated graphics treatments.

“I mean I’m gushing right now to think of one of these top 50 players walking down the 18th hole with an Atlas cam,” Shy said with a laugh. “It really gets chills going going everywhere. So that’s probably all I’ll give up. I will say there is more in the in the jar.”

8. CBS has a loaded signature schedule

With the addition of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to the signature events series, CBS will now cover six of the first eight signature events on the PGA Tour schedule in 2024 as well as the first two majors of the season. NBC will alternate on to covering the FedEx Cup Playoffs in 2023 after a wrinkle in the new TV rights agreement that saw CBS take over in 2023.

The stratified events schedule has been a source of controversy for the Tour, but not on the CBS side, which saw huge ratings in year one of the experiment in 2023 and surely isn’t upset with the star-studded nature of those tournament fields.

“It’s up to us to match the field, the course and the overall signature presentation,” Shy said. “We feel comfortable now that we have a year of signature events under our belt, which included all three playoffs. We feel comfortable in providing the viewer what they expect [at Pebble Beach] in terms of presentation.”

The author welcomes your thoughts at james.colgan@golf.comand encourages you to sign up for the Hot Mic newsletter below.

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