I was especially hard on Fox during last year’s U.S. Open, but that was some low hanging fruit. I was pretty confident that a more familiar and historic venue, plus a year under their belt, that they would have a much better go around this year, and I think they’re on their way there.

The positives:

  1. ProTracer – They spent more on these graphics than HBO has spent on Khaleesi’s dragons all season. I thought at one point we might see a fire graphic come from Azinger’s mouth as he ran off a hot take! This is one of the few things on the entire planet that everyone agrees on. There’s not one person that sees a ProTracer shot and gets annoyed by the bright colors on their screen.
  2. The Delay – There’s not a more difficult time to have to ad lib than when you have almost no highlights to show. Four minutes into their broadcast, the horns blew, and they were stuck trying to figure out what to do with their hands for hours. Azinger was a great fit in the booth, and Holly Sonders spent four years filling time on the Golf Channel on Morning Drive, so this was right up her alley. I was especially hard on Buck last year, but he’s not really that bad. I’m not a Buck fan (there aren’t many), but the hate for him has probably gone too far.
  3. Shane Bacon – Admittedly biased call here, as he’s a friend, and he’s in an interview role that I would otherwise not notice had I not personally known him. But kudos to Fox for putting a young guy in this role to talk to the players, and avoid the Rinaldi like “emotion” questions. He asked specific questions, and filled a LOT of time in these delays with player interviews, and looked really comfortable doing it in his first go around.
  4. Other Graphics – I saw two things I’d never seen before, and never knew that I wanted to see until I saw them. The first is the Golden Tee style split screen that even included some ProTracer porn. My only gripe is that I only saw this once, and of course it was on a Spieth lay up. The second was the rolling graphic showing the slope of the greens, similar to the mid 2000’s Tiger Woods games. Obviously we’ve seen graphics showing green slope before, but just digitally overlaying it over the actual green (rather than a cutaway to a digitally created green) was appealing to me. I’m pumped to see what else they have in their arsenal for the weekend.
@NoLayingUp easily the best thing Fox has done so far pic.twitter.com/i2wgWtWUZi

— Michael Shamburger (@mshamburger1) June 16, 2016

Fox lookin like a Tiger Woods 2007 game pic.twitter.com/aUQlWXSMxP

— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) June 16, 2016

The Negatives:

  1. Camera Work: I’m nitpicking a bit, as I do want to stress that it was an overall positive. But their transitions from their ProTracer use to the result of the shot was a bit sloppy. They were consistently late to getting to the shots on the green, and sometimes completely losing the ball if it was landing in the rough. They just need someone a little quicker on the draw at the switches.
  2. More Players: They seemed to really hone in on the Spieth-ZJ-DeChambeau grouping, which is understandable. But what we don’t need to see is DeChambeau searching for his ball, walking up to the green from forty yards out, checking his yardage book, etc. Or Spieth’s entire (lengthy) pre-shot routine. That time is better spent showing more players in other groups, even if it’s on delay. We’re hard on CBS for not showing live golf shots, but that’s on a Sunday when the field is trimmed in half, and only 20-30 guys even remotely matter. On the opening day of a major, everyone is still in it, so don’t hone in too much on one group (especially when we have the option to watch every shot from that featured group online).
  3. Talking Over Player/Caddie Conversations: They should be fined by the FCC every time this happens. At minimum, a shock collar to stop them mid-take. There’s nothing you can add over a caddie/player conversation that is more interesting than listening directly to the players.

What did I miss?

(Cover photo courtesy of Golf News Net).