Sports

Championship coverage provided by steady stream of chaos

Bethel High School graduate Sadena Parks seeks to escape a bunker at Sahalee on Friday. For Parks, the Women’s PGA was her first major in her home state.
Bethel High School graduate Sadena Parks seeks to escape a bunker at Sahalee on Friday. For Parks, the Women’s PGA was her first major in her home state. The Associated Press

Golf courses are supposed to be quiet.

“When people sit at home watching golf, it’s a passive experience,” said Tommy Roy, coordinating producer for NBC Sports. “There aren’t loud crowd roars or things like that. Announcers are speaking in a hushed tone.”

Well, Roy’s experience at Sahalee Country Club over the weekend was a bit noisier.

“Most people don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes,” he said. “It gets pretty crazy in (the production trailer). That’s what it takes to get it on the air in a proper way.”

Roy and his cohorts made quite the ruckus at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Trailers packed with video screens — that funnel one picture into television sets across the country — lined the area just north of the course’s first fairway.

Inside the main truck, Roy called the shots. And a steady stream of chaos continued for the duration of the five-hour broadcast.

“It may appear to be chaos, but actually it’s pretty well organized,” Roy said. “When everyone does their jobs, you get really strong telecasts, especially if the drama on the course matches what’s going on in the truck.”

Golf is arguably the toughest sport to follow for a television crew. Football, basketball, baseball — those sports have one ball, and a singular focus point.

“There are 18 different playing fields with up to 70 balls in play at one time, and various story lines,” Roy said. “Here there were 14 players within three shots of the lead.”

The final round had 33 cameras rolling, with towers at 15 holes. All of those required 18.6 miles of fiber cable — that’s several times the length of Sahalee, which played at 6,508 yards (3.7 miles) on Sunday.

All of that video is funneled to Roy, who, with the help of his crew eyeing different cameras, decides when to display a Lydia Ko putt on the eighth hole or a Brooke Henderson tee shot two groups ahead.

Roy relays that information to the on-air announcers, who give viewers the play-by-play and analysis. This weekend, 175 workers scurried around to put on the show.

Calls for graphics were made and queued up, shots from one hole to the next were dissolved or wiped away at the push of a button, and instructions came from all directions.

Then, a countdown and a wave of silence as the show goes to commercial.

The timer is set as suggestions and adjustments are made — two-minute break, and punch back in.

“In golf, they never stop playing,” Roy said.

PARKS’ FIRST HOME MAJOR

Bethel High School product Sadena Parks finished her final round with an 8-over 79, her highest score of the tournament, which included three bogeys and two double-bogeys on the back nine.

“This week — honestly it was really rough,” Parks said. “I think just being home and being back on the course ... and being with family and friends is the highlight of the week.”

Parks, who played at UW, was the only golfer with Washington roots to make the cut. This was the first major she’s played in her home state.

“It was typical Seattle weather, so they got the taste of that,” Parks said. “They got a taste of how good golf is here. Having a major here is huge.”

KIM’S BACK INJURY

Most of the walk down the back nine was bumpy for American Christina Kim, who tweaked her back midway through her final round.

“It’s been bad all week,” she said. “It kind of came out somewhere on the back (nine). I had a long shot out of a bunker, and it kind of tweaked it.”

Kim said the injury is recurring, and she is not overly concerned. She shot a 5-over 76 to finish at 8 over, after contending early — she was within two strokes of the lead at 2 under after Thursday.

She recorded four bogeys during her final eight holes, but birdied Nos. 17 and 18.

“The rough is high and nasty, the tees were perfectly positioned — it’s a long golf course,” Kim said. “It epitomizes the word major. It’s one of the best courses that I’ve ever played and, hands down, probably the best course that we get all year.”

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