Two-time major winner Collin Morikawa didn’t mince words this week when assessing the state of golf’s television product, arguing that lackluster broadcasts actively hurt fan engagement and betting interest in the sport.
- Morikawa criticized the lack of live golf shots shown on TV broadcasts, especially on Thursdays and Fridays
- He said more shots need to be shown to engage viewers and allow more betting on golf
- Morikawa suggested improvements to broadcasting and making the sport “more intriguing” for fans
- He acknowledged golf won’t ever match sports like football for action, but believes there’s room for better entertainment value
- While admitting it’s not easy, Morikawa said players can help enhance broadcasts through more insightful interviews
Speaking ahead of the star-studded AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Morikawa laid out a case for showcasing more live golf action instead of an overload of commercials and ancillary content. He suggested that simple fix could go a long way toward drawing eyeballs and excitement back to professional golf.
“I turn on golf on a Thursday if I play early, I turn it on and I see three golf shots and I question why,” explained the 26-year-old rising superstar. “The reason why other sports are – people pay attention is because people see more, you can probably bet more. People like betting when you can watch it live, not watch it on ShotTracer.”
Morikawa’s commentary comes amid fractured tours, questions over golf’s media rights future, and PGA Tour efforts to engage fans via sports betting partnerships.
But despite relationships with DraftKings, FanDuel and other gambling operators, Morikawa argued that insufficient coverage of actual golf inhibits bettors who rely on following action live. Research shows his critique has merit – a 2023 study during the U.S. Open found just 11 shots aired against 15 ads over the first 12+ minutes of Friday afternoon coverage.
While the young star doesn’t expect golf to ever match the mass appeal of a sport like football, he suggested even marginal broadcast improvements could make an impact.
“I’m not gonna go dance down the fairway or celebrate differently on a birdie putt on the sixth hole on Friday,” Morikawa conceded. “But just by seeing more birdie putts and seeing more shots, that’s going to bring more viewers in.”
“We need to make golf more intriguing to the viewers.”
Collin Morikawa talking about the need to grow the game of golf ⛳ pic.twitter.com/E3aOYt5Ncm
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) February 1, 2024
He pointed to innovative Walk and Talk interviews piloted by Max Homa and CBS last season as one creative way to add energy. But Morikawa admitted it’s also incumbent on top players to provide consistent, compelling insights that resonate with fans during telecasts.
“It’s up to the announcers to ask different questions every single week,” said the world #7. “I know people want to hear the insights of what we do and what we talk about on a shot in the middle of the fairway or if we’re in the rough.”
Still, Morikawa made clear that the primary problem lies in limited visibility of actual golf action, declaring it bluntly: “You first need to see more golf shots…that’s like the number one bullet point.”
Broadcasters face logistical hurdles related to rights costs, cameras, and coordinating coverage across multiple groups simultaneously. But Morikawa’s high-profile critique suggests building fan momentum requires the powers-that-be to confront those roadblocks.
With rising superstars like Morikawa leading more open and honest discussions, perhaps golf is finally ready to answer tough questions about its disjointed media product. Because the young star is spot-on in his assessment: intrigued viewers and engaged bettors follow from seeing quality golf shots first and foremost.
Everything else must flow from there if the sport hopes to drive prosperity in its next era.