Sportsnet covers all the angles

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

"Did we get the hole-in-one?" asked Rogers Sportsnet vice-president of production Rick Briggs-Jude.

They had captured it and the excitement of the telecast of the CN Canadian Women's Open, just hours away, was palpable.

They would be able to show yesterday's 192-yard ace by France's Patricia Meunier-Lebouc when the broadcast went on air at 2 p.m.

Sportsnet hasn't covered golf for a long time, said Briggs-Jude, and they jumped at it when they got together with the RCGA last fall.

Yesterday, Sportsnet began 12 hours of live coverage, three hours a day for the four days of competition. Today, it's from 2 to 5 p.m., tomorrow from 3 to 6 p.m. and Sunday 4 to 7 p.m., with the last putt being sunk on the 18th about 6:45 p.m., "if all goes well," he said.

Coverage will go out on all four Sportsnet channels across the country, with some going to Asia and Australia.

About 125 people are involved in the effort, beginning with the advance people who strung wires cabling the entire golf course and routed them back to the control centre. They decided on camera positions and set up a tower that had to be line-of-sight accessible to all holes.

The course at the London Hunt and Country Club was not difficult to do, Briggs-Jude said, except for the signature 10th hole, which has a steep escarpment because it's in the Thames River valley. But that's been overcome.

"Golf is one of the most difficult TV sports because it's not just one day," Briggs-Jude said. "It's four days and golf is made up of individual games and the challenge is how this individual play has to fit into the overall sport. Pacing and timing are critical."

Some of that co-ordination is in the hands of former London broadcaster Rob Faulds, who began his career at CFPL radio in the 1970s, and his co-host, former Canadian LPGA player Gail Graham. They're set up in a commentators' box at the 14th hole.

"I'm like a caddie," Faulds said. "I set up the big bits and throw it over to them all the time."

He throws the mike and camera over to such Rogers players as Gerry Dobson, host of Sportsnet's Golf Report show, Dan Murphy, who reports on golf from the Vancouver bureau and is a prominent amateur golfer himself, and John Gordon, Sportsnet's golf insider commentator for greenside interviews.

The course is covered with 16 cameras -- 12 stationary, two hand-held and two wireless.

Faulds, who did colour commentary in London with Gary Alan Price and worked with John Davidson before moving to Sudbury, where he replaced Joe Bowen (now doing Toronto Maple Leafs games), has covered five Canadian men's opens, the senior men and the LPGA for CTV as a course walker, host and interviewer.

"It's my first opportunity to work in tandem with Gail," Faulds said. Graham has pre-taped golf tips that will be inserted during broadcasts.

"It's a case of focus and refocus," he said of the on-air experience of golf. "You want to concentrate on the Canadians, but you can't lose sight of the leaders or who got hot or who has gone stone cold."

Faulds said he began studying for the Canadian Open a month ago, reading up on the players, checking stats and pulling notes together.

He has covered virtually all the major sports over the years, plus Swedish elite league hockey during the NHL lockout, equestrian events, auto racing and alpine and cross-country skiing.

Growing up, football was his sport and he went to UWO hoping to be a football player until he blew his knees out. He likes covering baseball and now has to adjust to the pace of golf.

"This crew," he said of the Sportsnet personnel on site, "may be one of the most experienced."


Videos

Photos