CBS, Turner Gear Up for PGA Championship

The final major of the 2014 golf season, the PGA Championship, will take place this weekend at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, KY, and, once again, CBS Sports and Turner Sports will be working closely together on four days of coverage.

“I’ve always said golf is the hardest sport to cover on TV because you’re covering 18 stages, nobody has numbers on their back, and there is more than one ball in play at a time,” says Lance Barrow, producer, CBS Sports. “I started planning this a year in advance and have been here a couple of times to make sure the cameras are in the correct locations and figuring out how to get the crew [around the course] when there are 50,000 people you have to maneuver around. This is something all of CBS Sports has been focused on for over a year.”

The center of the production for this weekend will be NEP’s SS10, which will provide master control for the back nine holes, and SS22, providing master control for the front nine. New this year is Game Creek Video’s Riverhawk, on hand as a swing truck for the back nine.

“Things have changed a lot since the last time the Open was here, and just to get the compound footprint to work was problematic,” says Ken Aagaard, EVP, operations, engineering and production services, CBS Sports. “Everything has grown exponentially, so we had to split out the international facilities, [which means] there are some longer fiber runs. But the course itself is no bigger a problem than in past PGA tournaments. It’s pretty straightforward.”

The camera complement includes 23 Sony hard cameras, four POV units, eight wireless cameras from BSI, four cabled handheld units, four talent cameras, three roving jib cameras, one Pro Tracer camera, and two RF SwingVision units. The feeds will be passed back to 36 channels’ worth of EVS XT2 servers and seven Sony HDCAM decks for replay. Nine ChyronHego Duets will handle graphics.

The PGA Championship is just part of a very busy month for CBS Sports, which is ramping up for an NFL season that will include a game on Thursday nights and gearing up for the U.S. Open tennis tournament, which begins Aug. 25. And, as if that isn’t enough, the PGA Championship comes right on the heels of the Bridgestone Invitational, held this past weekend in Akron, OH.

“That’s a big show for us, too, and that spread us out a bit,” adds Aagaard.

In terms of workflow, SS22 will cover the first nine holes for CBS as well as the front and back nine for Turner’s coverage early Saturday and Sunday. Signals from nine hard cameras, two wired handhelds, eight shared RF handhelds, and the shared jib and crane will be ingested into four HD EVS units and two record-only HDCAM decks.

The coverage of the back nine will originate in SS10, with videotape operations in the B unit. There will be seven HD EVS units and two swing EVS units in Riverhawk, augmenting the back-hole coverage with six HD hard cameras, two HD POV units, a wired HD handheld and the jib. SS10, meanwhile, will handle eight hard cameras, two HD talent cameras, a Sony HDC2500 for the Pro Tracer, and a spare HD camera. In addition, the eight RF handheld cameras will be controlled from SS10.

With respect to audio, SS10 C unit will do the submixes for both the front and back nine. A Midas Venice console will be added to complement the Calrec console. Communications will be via an RTS Adam system.

DIRECTV also will be on hand, once again delivering coverage of the par 3 holes to viewers via a mosaic channel. The par 3 show, covering holes 3, 8, 6, 11, and 14, will be produced in the NEP Tempo unit. In addition, DIRECTV will produce an In Depth show onsite out of the NCPVIII production unit.

CBS Sports Network, likewise, will use the Tempo and NCPVIII units to broadcast from Valhalla. Morning show On the Range will be located on the driving range and produced out of NCPVII on Thursday and Friday; a postmatch Clubhouse Report will be produced every night in the Tempo truck.

CBS has two golf events remaining on the schedule, the Wyndham Championship Aug. 11-17 in Greensboro, NC, and The Barclays Aug. 21-24 in Paramus, NJ.

“The biggest news this year technically was the new wireless cameras that we started using in January,” says Aagaard. “We felt they would be a success, and BSI did a fabulous job. Looking back at our season, I am hard pressed to remember any breakups.”

Harold Bryant, executive producer/VP, production, CBS Sports, concurs: “A staple of our broadcasts is the portable handheld cameras that get all the great shots. A very large amount of effort was put into it.”

Aagaard also notes another big change: the ability to move media files around and directly from the PGA Entertainment facility in Florida. Work still to be done includes CBS’s creating its own digital archive.