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Golf Channel brings Bear Mountain to life

Posted on September 22, 2016

As star-studded as the field of golfers is at the PGA Tour Champions Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, beginning today, the television announcers here to call the action also have a solid pedigree in the game.

The entire group from the Golf Channel arrived at Bear Mountain Golf Resort on Thursday, led by Emmy Award-winning host Whit Watson.

Also in the fold are longtime PGA professional Curt Byrum, former PGA and Players Championship winner John Mahaffey, PGA tour winner Arron Oberholser and David Marr, son of former PGA Championship winner and Ryder Cup captain Dave Marr.

The event runs today to Sunday at Bear Mountain Golf Resort’s Mountain course, and features a $2.5-million US purse. The PGA Tour Champions organization brings together golfers 50 and over, with its tournaments full of big names who excelled in their younger years — players like Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Vijay Singh and Mark O’Meara.

“Competition is great,” said Bruce Kaufman, director of broadcasting business affairs for the PGA Tour. “You’ve got a lot of Hall-of-Famers who are out on a daily basis.”

Television coverage of the Bear Mountain tournament will be three hours each day, with the announcers having used their early arrival to take a preliminary look at the course.

Kaufman arrived Thursday, as well, travelling from PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Verde, Florida.

During the tournament, the announcers walk the course each day, check on pin positions and maybe take a few putts to see how the ball is breaking on the greens, he said.

He said announcers also consulted with rules officials during a Thursday production meeting so they are aware of such factors as what is and isn’t a lateral hazard and how the grass is cut on the fairways. Along with that, it is common for them to check in with the course superintendent, Kaufman said.

There have also been chats with the golfers after their practice or pro-am rounds to “get a feel for the golf course,” he said.

Golf Channel did a site survey at the course months ago to prepare for its television coverage, Kaufman said.

“They’ll send three, four, five people, including a producer, the director, technical manager, production manager,” he said. “At that point, the director and producer and the tech manager decide where they’re going to place their TV towers.”

In an event like the one at Bear Mountain, there will always be TV camera towers erected on the entire back nine and perhaps a few more holes, Kaufman said. The towers are placed adjacent to or behind the greens.

Along with the cameras on the towers, there will be four hand-held units, he said.

Television ratings are good for PGA Tour Champions events, although this time of year can be a challenge with the start of the NFL and college football seasons, Kaufman said.

“The fans that love golf will watch,” he said.

Story by: Jeff Bell