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USGA inks U.S. Open broadcast deal with Fox

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That strange sound you are hearing is coming from golf fans who have already heard. Half of them are weeping and cursing the United States Golf Association, and the other half are cheering it for striking a deal with Fox Broadcasting Company.

This deal will see multimedia coverage of the U.S. Open and other USGA events change hands for the first time in well over a decade, effective 2015 and continuing at least through 2026.

For the last 19 years, American golf’s national championship has been broadcast on NBC and for the last 32 years, sports media giant ESPN has also broadcast portions of the event — largely Thursday and Friday live coverage, of late.

This means that one of golf’s most polarizing pundits, Johnny Miller, will likely no longer be a major voice, along with NBC stalwarts Dan Hicks and Jimmy Roberts, of a championship he won in 1973 at Oakmont Country Club.

Miller’s detractors will be relieved to no longer hear him talk about his U.S. Open exploits, especially the final-round 63 he shot at Oakmont to win his lone title in the event, as well as his sometimes overly frank delivery. His supporters will lament the loss of his sometimes brutal honesty and on-sleeve opinions and insights, which have often helped give viewers an inside look at what the world’s best golfers are going through as they are confronted with what is arguably the toughest golf course setup anyone experiences all year.

The makeup of the Fox golf broadcasting team is unknown at this time. Theoretically, some elements of the current NBC coverage cast could migrate, but exactly whether and to what extent that is true remains to be seen.

Also disappearing from NBC and ESPN broadcasts will be the likes of the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and any coverage of the various amateur championships the USGA conducts. Fox will take dominion over all of them, bumping total coverage hours up from 90 to approximately 146 across all USGA championships. The coverage of amateur events alone will more than double, from 30 to 76 hours.

The announcement of this deal comes at a somewhat odd time, falling the week of the PGA Championship. For the USGA to break this news while the Professional Golfers Association holds its biggest annual event seems strange, even petty, to some.

To go a step further with this line of thinking would make one wonder if the USGA is spiking the proverbial football, punishing the PGA for the resistance it and the PGA Tour initially put up against the recently confirmed ban on anchored putting strokes, which the USGA initiated in conjunction with the Royal & Ancient Golf Club, which administrates the game overseas.

The announcement comes less than two weeks before Fox opens its 24-hour sports network Fox Sports 1, which will look to compete more directly with the likes of ESPN and NBC Sports Network for coveted viewership and advertising dollars. Fox Sports 1 goes live August 17 across the United States.

In 2015, Fox Sports 1 will add golf to an initial list of live sports offerings that include NASCAR, UFC, UEFA and Champions League soccer and NCAA football and basketball. Parent company Fox Broadcasting Company is reportedly paying upwards of $100 million for the rights to all of the USGA’s golf assets. That figure would more than double the $37 million NBC/ESPN combined rights contract amount in place through 2014, further enriching a USGA war chest that is known for its considerable size.

Many details of the implementation of this relationship remain to be seen, but if you like Johnny Miller — or if you love to hate-watch him — be sure and get your fill in 2014 during the Pinehurst No. 2 back-to-back U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open.

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. watch college football online free espn

    Sep 12, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    It’s awesome in support of me to have a web page, which is beneficial designed for my knowledge. thanks admin

  2. Mike

    Aug 10, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    NBC made the us open must see tv….. Fox ruins everything they touch!

  3. Cyd

    Aug 10, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Great News!

    No more Dan Hicks or Jimmy Roberts.

    Maybe FOX can lure Bill McAtee away from CBS to be the lead announcer. Whether or not Bill would leave CBS is another issue.

    Hopefully instead of the LPGA being an after thought like it is at NBC FOX will find a way to make the ladies tour more popular. Of course it would help the LPGA a lot more if the American women would learn that playing golf is not a beauty contest and they actually have to work to win tournaments. That is all American women other than Stacey Lewis need to learn that lesson. Stacey is the only woman that understands that winning golf tournaments takes hard work and mental toughness.

    • Cyd

      Aug 10, 2013 at 9:05 am

      Bill Macatee

    • Shallowface

      Aug 10, 2013 at 4:19 pm

      Cyd, I think the LPGA has a long term deal with Golf Channel. The only women’s events on Fox networks will be USGA championships.

      I agree with you about Bill Macatee, but I’m betting Fox goes for someone (or several someones)younger and more brash. I won’t like it, but I’m not in the target demographic.

  4. Rico

    Aug 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    They’ll have Frank Caliendo in the booth doing his Miller and McCord impersonations.

  5. jim

    Aug 9, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Maybe they will have giant robot golfers in there intro. on the upside, erin andrews and carrisa thompson anyone???

  6. Martin

    Aug 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Just about every sports event I watch on Fox makes me puke just a little tiny bit in my mouth.

  7. Dan

    Aug 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Hopefully FOX wont overdo it the hype regarding Woods and could be alot better.

    Hicks = Tiger Shill Extraordinaire.

    Jimmy Roberts = #1 TV Sports Douche in the World. Pete Rose should have decked him.

    Miller = Pretty candid, like Faldo, hopefully will move to FOX.

    • Shallowface

      Aug 8, 2013 at 6:58 pm

      Dan, re: Pete Rose, I think you’re thinking of Jim Gray, not Jimmy Roberts.

      Regardless, this move by the USGA is stunning, and sad.

  8. td

    Aug 8, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    As long as they don’t let McCarver near the broadcast booth all is good.

  9. Jeff

    Aug 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    God save us all if Joe Buck starts calling the US Open

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