For U.S. Open Coverage, NBC Sports Sees No Need for TV Gimmicks
Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, CA, is among the nation’s toughest courses to play, but, according to NBC Sports producer Tommy Roy, the picturesque home of this year’s U.S. Open Championship is not among the toughest to shoot.
“Logistically, it is spread out quite a bit, so that makes things complicated for us,” Roy says. “Our television compound is 2,500 ft. away from the nearest golf hole. That would be the only difficult thing. Otherwise, the golf course is so beautiful, every hole is so unique and recognizable, it’s basically turn the cameras on and show it. It’s not complicated; it’s actually easy television to do.”
A Backyard Angle
Although it might not be complicated, the distinctive layout of the course and notoriously small greens make for some unique opportunities for Roy and his team in choosing where to place the more than 50 cameras used for this weekend’s coverage. One camera is located in a particularly interesting spot: in the private backyard of a family who lives behind the 18th green.
“That camera is actually on a big crane parked in a family’s backyard,” Roy says. “They were kind enough to let us park our crane in their backyard and actually tore out their shrubbery in the back so we could get in there.”
The camera will provide some unique angles, because all the tee shots from the 18th hole will be struck directly at the camera. The second shots will provide what Roy calls a “speed shot.”
“The ball will come flying by our camera and lie in the vicinity of the green,” he points out. “It’s an angle that no one has ever seen before here at Pebble. No one has been able to put a camera in a position like that. I can tell you, it’s going to be a dramatic shot.”
The Pictures Tell the Story
In all, NBC will provide more than 30 hours of HD U.S. Open coverage on both NBC and ESPN. Throughout the weekend, Roy will focus on the images, refraining from cluttering them with unnecessary enhancements.
“In my opinion, there’s no need for gimmicks or television gadgetry here,” he says. “It’s all about the pictures and the storytelling. I’ve been looking forward to this since we went off the air from here 10 years ago.”
Audio From the Source
The NBC crew will enhance that storytelling with audio straight from the players’ mouths, using shotgun microphones on both the fairways and the tees to listen in on player-caddy conversations. Players will not, however, be miked.
“I’m not a fan of miking players,” Roy says. “The thing with that is, you’re only getting one side of the conversation. You hear what the player says but not what the caddie says. With our microphones, we pick up both sides of a conversation.”
The shotguns do not pick up dialogue that takes place on the greens, but he maintains that those conversations are not as interesting as what NBC picks up from the fairway.
“I would be a fan of being able to interview players out on the fairway, similar to what is allowed on the Champions Tour,” he says. “I don’t want it to be something that would affect the players because we’ve distracted them from their game, but, if it can be done in a way that is in between shots and not taking away from them, then I’m all for it.”
NBS Sports’ weekend coverage of the third and fourth rounds of the U.S. Open Championship begins on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET.