CBS Sports Adds Constant Scorebug to PGA TOUR Coverage as Sellers Shy Takes Over at Front Bench
Other changes include new music, a dedicated rules official, and the return of live drones
When CBS Sports tees off its 64th consecutive year of PGA TOUR coverage Saturday with the Farmers Insurance Open at San Diego’s Torrey Pines Golf Course, there will be a new production boss at the front bench for the first time in 24 years. Veteran producer Sellers Shy will take over as coordinating producer for golf following longtime Coordinating Producer Lance Barrow’s retirement after last season.
As only the third lead producer in CBS Sports’ golf history — Barrow succeeded Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer Frank Chirkinian — Shy steps into some sizable shoes, but he’s confident that his many years on the CBS Golf team has prepared him to do so.
“I was Frank Chirkinian’s runner in ’87 until Lance took the reins,” says Shy. “Both instilled gamesmanship, I will say that. When they got in that chair, it was all-hands-on-deck, and they were ready to produce the best telecasts that they could. They took a lot of pride in themselves and a lot of pride in CBS Golf. When Saturday comes around, everyone on this team is ready, and that includes the announcers.”
In addition to Shy’s debut as lead producer alongside returning director Steve Milton, CBS will introduce several elements to its PGA TOUR broadcasts: a constant mini-leaderboard, new theme music, a dedicated rules official, enhanced capabilities and presentation for SmartCart, and live drone coverage. This is all part of a renewed effort by CBS Sports to modernize its golf coverage while building on the network’s great tradition and storied history on the course.
“I think you will see a new skin to our broadcast and a refreshing re-energized look across the board,” says Shy. “We worked very hard on making sure that there is a slight difference and a re-energized few areas. The first hour, you may see three, four, maybe even five new looks.”
Scorebug Goes Full-Time; Drones, Virtual Graphics, SmartCart Return
This year, CBS will take a cue from Fox Sports’ golf coverage and incorporate a constant mini scoreboard/leaderboard in the lower righthand corner of the screen, similar to elements seen in the majority of live sports telecasts.
“We like to think that viewers love the scorebug on football and on basketball, and we’re attempting to make that a standard position for golf for a miniboard,” says Shy. “I’d like to think that, whenever anyone comes in the room and they want to know who’s leading the tournament, they’re going to find out [immediately]. Obviously, there will be times when I have to take it in and out and due to sponsor obligations and so forth, but the goal is to have it in primarily all the time.”With no plans for fans to attend the majority of PGA TOUR events (at least in the immediate future), CBS Sports will deploy drones regularly for live aerial coverage this year.
“You will see [drones],” says Shy. “We’re excited about them. We thought that they looked exceptionally good during our restart, and we plan on having them in the West Coast [events]. Needless to say, a drone flying over the 18th hole at Pebble Beach or down or around the cliffs at Torrey Pines is just as picturesque as we would want.”
The CBS Sports team also continues to collaborate with ARL (Animation Research LTD) on evolving virtual graphics within the telecast.
“You could see some more bells and whistles that include some new animations, a slightly new graphics appearance, and that’s exciting to us,” says Shy. “The ARL group out of New Zealand is able to create some pretty dynamic looks. I think the sky’s the limit for this team in New Zealand that we work with so closely.”
Shy adds that he’s hoping to increase deployment of reporter Amanda Balionis and the roving SmartCart SVX she uses for player interviews on the course. The SmartCart, which CBS has used since 2016, is a mobile high-brightness touchscreen system designed to serve outdoor broadcasts.
New this year will be a full-time PGA TOUR rules official, who will be integrated into CBS Golf telecasts to help explain rules and regulations in real time when necessary.
CBS will also debut new theme music for its PGA coverage. Composed over the past few months, it will provide a “a new sound and feel,” according to Shy.
McManus Looks Back at 2020, Ahead to 2021
Although the pandemic is still very much in full force, the CBS Sports team is able to hang its hat on the fact that it was able to produce the 2020 PGA TOUR slate of broadcasts under tremendously fraught circumstances.
“I’m particularly proud of the fact that, last June, when we really were in the throes of this awful pandemic, somehow our production team led by [Executive Producer/EVP, Production] Harold Bryant and our operations team led by [EVP, Operations and Engineering] Patty Power figured out a way to produce golf — not only really well but really safely,” says CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. “We were facing some obstacles: we had more mobile units because of social distancing, and we had people isolated in different bubbles.
“Jim Nantz was the only person in his tower; he literally turned on the lights and turned off the lights [each day],” he continues. “And production crews and graphics were being done as far away as New Zealand, and videotape was done in Los Angeles and New York. It was a monumental task, and I’m so proud of what we did. And I’m so proud of how the PGA TOUR worked with us so very closely to make sure that everything was done safely and in a good way. That was a proud moment for us.”
With a cavalcade of fresh and returning challenges to face in 2021, CBS Sports’ golf productions have passed into the hands of Shy, who, McManus believes, is more than up to the task.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Sellers Shy as coordinating producer,” he says. “He’s the perfect person to carry the mantle from Lance Barrow. He’s also, since the mid 1950s, only the third coordinating producer of golf on CBS. When you think about the heritage and the shoes that he’s stepping into, it’s pretty august company. I have ultimate faith in Sellers. He’s got a great production mind. He lives and breathes golf 52 weeks a year. He’s innovative, he’s organized, and he works incredibly well with talent.
“Sellers is going to bring new ideas and new thoughts and new technology to CBS,” McManus continues. “It’s a new beginning for us piggybacking on a great heritage and a great tradition of CBS Golf. And I couldn’t be happier to have Sellers Shy be the man in charge.”