Is Sky's major coverage a class above the BBC’s?
Yes, says Mark Townsend
BBC or Sky? I’ll be honest I’ve not watched a single second of the BBC’s coverage. I’m not sure there is anyone on the planet of under 50 who has watched more golf on the Beeb over the years but I just can’t do it any more.
Their Wednesday preview, shown at something like 11.45pm, has been a shambles in recent years and their main coverage rarely tells me anything new. Don’t get me wrong I love Peter Alliss and I worship Ken Brown – I still record the BBC to watch the Ken on the Course features – but Sky are there every week and it shows.
Butch Harmon coaches half the leaderboard and is happy to divulge more than enough nuggets to make his involvement fascinating while they bring their A team over for The Masters so there is no debate these days over which channel to go with.
In truth I would feel a bit two-faced if I didn’t stick with Sky for this as we spend every Sunday evening together and, while it’s not perfect, it’s pretty good.
A lot of my happiest memories in life revolve around the Beeb and Augusta National but I’m happy to move on.
No, says Dan Murphy
What a relief after a frantic, high-octane week on Sky Sports to get home again and sink into the golfing equivalent of a warm bath, complete with aromatherapy candles, that is the BBC’s golf coverage.
Close your eyes and Eilidh Barbour, the new anchor, even sounds like her predecessor Hazel Irvine.
Needless to say, the most familiar element is Peter Alliss. Sometimes it is easy to imagine that the excellent Andrew Cotter spends the whole broadcast with a hand on the socket where Alliss’s mike is plugged in, just in case he needs to be disconnected quickly.
In recent years, it’s become easy to forget the amount of gentle golfing wisdom he liberally dispenses as the focus has – rightly on occasion – centred on some of his rather, well, outdated views.
On Saturday though, for whatever reason, the 88-year-old was on best behaviour.
Alongside Ken Brown, we were suddenly whisked back to 2008 or 1998 or 1988 or whenever your halcyon golfing days began.
Everything was calmer, a little more measured and, yes, slightly older-fashioned. And none the worse for it.
It is a shame that it has taken them until now, when they have so little golf to broadcast, but the team of Barbour, Alliss, Brown, Cotter and the perceptive Paul Azinger would grace any major.
BBC or Sky? Well, the Masters only really feels like the Masters when you are watching it on BBC.