The United States Golf Association’s US Open championship gets underway Thursday at the Chambers Bay Golf Course, a public facility in University Place WA, just south of Tacoma. If you’re a golfer or if you are just interested in watching the sport, you are in for a bonanza of viewing, especially if you’re in the Eastern Time zone of the United States. With the three hour difference, there will be prime time viewing each of the four days.
FOX is the new broadcast partner with the USGA, and this is that network’s first attempt to broadcast golf. Gone with the NBC broadcast booth is Johnny Miller, one of those announcers in the Howard Cosell mold: you either love him or hate him. Greg Norman will offer his insight each day. FOX is using its FOX Sports 1 channel during the day, beginning at noon ET Thursday and Friday and at 2:00 pm ET Saturday and Sunday. Thursday and Friday, the broadcasts switch to the regular FOX channel at 8 pm ET. Saturday, FOX will pick up the play-by-play at 7:00 ET and Sunday’s final round starts at 7:30 pm on FOX. On all four days, FOX will broadcast until the last players are off the course. That’s about 11 hours the first two days and 9 hours the last two.
The course itself will remind golfers of the Open Championship, the one played in Scotland most of the time. The course demands a lot of creative play; don’t be surprised to see the professionals using putters from off the green, not just a few feet off the green but several yards off the green, maybe as many as 50 yards off the green. There will be a lot of bump and run shots. There will be interesting approach shots, both from off and on the green, being played at weird angles away from the hole. The course was built to require lots of strategic play-making from off the tee and onto the putting surfaces, probably more that most golf courses.
Tuesday evening, during a Golf Channel Live From broadcast at the course, we got a glimpse of Rory McIlroy, the number one golfer in the world, on the practice tee. It was noted he would play a nine hole practice round that day starting around 5:30 Pacific Time and that he would probably just play nine holes and those would be the back nine. He would do the same today. His strategy, the golf analysis explained, is because he expects to be on those holes at that time on Saturday and Sunday as he contends for the title, and he wants to know what's the course is like at that time of day. Don’t be surprised if he’s there at his appointed time. And, don’t be surprised if telephone calls to my home go unanswered the next four days, especially during prime time viewing.