BRITISH OPEN boss Peter Dawson has given a blunt warning to the BBC to sharpen up its golf coverage or risk losing the rights to the iconic event.
Dawson, the chief executive of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, broke with established practice this week by airing his concerns about the Corporation while he was at the venue for this year’s Open, Royal Lytham and St Annes.
Dawson’s comments make you wonder what he would do if he had to embrace how golf’s most venerated event is treated by its free to air television rights holder in Australia. The short answer is that he would probably choke on his own vomit.
This year the BBC will cover just six days of live men’s professional golf and legendary commentator Peter Allis is one of a number within the sport who have been critical of the trend.
Dawson, one of the most powerful and influential figures in golf, has made it clear he is not happy and that the BBC’s association with the Open, which stretches back more than 50 years, could come to an end if the broadcaster does not tidy up its act.
Asked this week if he had concerns about the fact the BBC no longer covers such tournaments as the Scottish Open and the BMW PGA Championship, Dawson did not mince his words.
“Certainly,” he replied. “We have had that conversation with the BBC. They know we have got our eye on them. It hasn’t just been in golf but with the likes of tennis as well. You have to stay in practice and keep up with advances in technology. You need to be in practice to do it well. We obviously want the Open Championship to be seen by as many people as we can.”
Dawson also took a swipe at the BBC for using “celebrity” cricketers and footballers to front their coverage rather than golf experts. (Sound familiar?).
Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan didn’t help matters at the US Masters recently when Tiger Woods had to correct him during an on air interview about how many majors the American had won. Most golf fans know that figure only too well.
The British Open in Australia used to be an annual television ritual but a couple of years back the free to air rights holder, Channel Nine, ripped the heart out of many golf fans by relegating it to a nightly overnight one hour highlights package. (2010 Britsh Open TV coverage – an entire hour right after the midnight Skippy repeat)
Last year it slipped even further when the schedule was just for a single one hour highlight package the day after the end of the event.
Those of us with access to the full Fox Sports coverage are happy Nine and its celebrity cricketers have nothing to do with the event (though I am sure the cricketers are very nice people), but we can still feel the pain of all those who rightly expect that such iconic sporting events should still be open to all on free to air television.