Golf Channel Delivers Election-Style Production for U.S. Open Qualifying

The 112th U.S. Open is still more than a week away, but, for Golf Channel and the more than 1,000 golfers across the country looking to qualify for the tournament, it might as well have teed off today. For the first time in television history, Golf Channel will devote an entire day of programming to the U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying, including live check-ins at qualifying sites and key locations throughout the nation.

“It really is like golf’s Election Day,” says Golf Channel News Director Matt Hegarty. “There will be significant human-interest stories at all 11 sectional qualifying locations, from journeymen veterans to top-ranked amateurs.”

The Longest Day
Dubbed Golf’s Longest Day, the network’s coverage tees off at 7 a.m. (with an expected end time around midnight) and features nearly 1,000 golfers attempting to qualify for the remaining 79 slots in the final field of 156 players at the U.S. Open Championship. Golf Channel’s team of 50-plus reporters and production crew will deliver interviews, analysis, and scoring updates from 14 locations throughout the U.S.

“This will be an extremely challenging day for our entire crew,” says Hegarty. “Similar to the players trying to qualify, our focus and concentration will be tested throughout the day, and we’ll make sure to leave enough in the tank for the final hours. Although this will be a completely new undertaking, we still will hold ourselves to our same high standard of television.”

In addition to the 11 USGA Sectional Qualifying sites, the network also has reporters located at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, site of next month’s U.S. Open, where a team of volunteers and staff members will be taking phone calls from recent qualifiers to arrange everything from hotel accommodations to practice rounds. In addition, Golf Channel will have live coverage from USGA headquarters in Far Hills, NJ, where members of rules and competitions committees will help each qualifying location from around the country with rulings.

Home Base in Orlando
All the content throughout the day will be hosted from Golf Channel’s Orlando studios.

“Orlando studios is our home base anchored by Kelly Tilghman and Steve Sands,” says Hegarty. “We will have uplink trucks with producers and reporters in four locations, where we will be able to go live to all day. All of our other locations will be feeding back with cellular technology [to be] played back from our tape rooms in Orlando.”

The Programming Slate
Golf’s Longest Day will begin with an expanded, four-hour version of Morning Drive, hosted by Gary Williams and featuring live and taped reports from the 11 sectional qualifiers, as well as interviews with USGA members past and present. USGA Senior Director of Competitions Mark Hill will serve as special in-studio expert and will be featured on Golf Channel throughout the day.

Three Golf Central special presentations (1-2 p.m. ET, 6-8 p.m., and 10 p.m.-12 a.m.) will cover emerging stories, interviews with medalists and other qualifiers, and studio analysis by Tripp Isenhour (who has qualified for the U.S. Open three out of seven attempts in the past) and Hill. In between, frequent news updates throughout the day will keep viewers up to date on all the news and scores.