PGA Tour on CBS

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Golf on CBS
Genre Golf telecasts
Presented by List of PGA Tour on CBS commentators
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 53
Production location(s) Various PGA Tournament sites
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 180 minutes or until tournament ends
Distributor CBS Sports
Original network CBS
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
1080i (HDTV)
Original release April 7, 1956 (1956-04-07) (The Masters)
January 10, 1970 (1970-01-10) (PGA Tour) – present
Related shows Golf Channel on NBC
PGA Tour on USA
External links

PGA Tour on CBS (or Golf on CBS) is the branding used for broadcasts of the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA)'s main golf tours that are produced by CBS Sports,[1][2] the sports division of the CBS television network in the United States.

Coverage overview

CBS Sports has been a carrier of PGA Tour golf since 1970. CBS was the Tour's primary television partner from 1970 to 1998, carrying 20 or more events per season. CBS shared duties as primary Tour carrier with ABC Sports from 1999 to 2006, covering around 15 events per season. CBS regained its primary status in 2007, once again covering 20 or more events per season, and has remained so ever since.[3] CBS also holds broadcast television rights to the two of the four majors, the Masters Tournament and PGA Championship. CBS has long-term deals for the PGA Championship[4] (initially from 1958 to 1964[5] and again starting in 1991). Meanwhile, the Masters operates under one-year contracts; CBS has been the main television partner every year since 1956.[6]


Frank Chirkinian was known as the 'father of televised golf' for the impact he had on golf broadcasting. He came to the attention of CBS after he impressed with his direction of the 1958 PGA Championship. Recruited by the network, who had no one with expertise in the relatively new field of golf broadcasting, he went on to be executive producer of CBS's golf coverage from 1959 to 1996.[7][8] During his time at CBS, he was nicknamed "The Ayatollah" for his brusque, uncompromising approach to directing broadcasts.[9] Chirkinian was particularly well regarded for the coverage of the Masters Tournament that he oversaw for four decades, working closely with the management of Augusta National to ensure they were satisfied.[10] Following his retirement, he remained a consultant to CBS for golf coverage.

File:PGA Tour on CBS logo.png
PGA Tour on CBS logo used from 2002 to 2006.

Chirkinian was responsible for a number of innovations in the television presentation of golf. He ensured as many microphones as possible were placed around the golf course to pick up the sounds of the tournament and golfers' conversations, rather than having commentators talk over silent footage. He showed as many golf shots as possible, cutting quickly from player to player to keep up the pace of the broadcast, unafraid of focusing on the game's stars. The use of multiple cameras was introduced during Chirkinian's tenure, including high-angle cameras mounted in trees and on blimps for the first time. Chirkinian said that he was most proud of being the first to display golfers' scores relative to par, rather than cumulatively, making it simpler to work out how they were faring relative to the rest of the field. Most of all, Chirkinian thought it important to allow coverage to focus on golfers and the shots they made, and was critical of recent innovations in golf broadcasting that he saw as distracting and unnecessary.

Since 2004, all of CBS's golf broadcasts outside of the Masters have featured super slow motion video of golfers' shots from a super slow motion camera used for swing analysis by Peter Kostis.[11] The camera was known as "CBS Swing Vision" during its first year; it gained sponsorship from Konica Minolta the next season, an arrangement that has lasted over a decade. The feature was known as the "Konica Minolta SwingVision camera" in 2005, the "Bizhub SwingVision camera" from 2006 to 2008, and the "Konica Minolta Bizhub SwingVision camera" since 2009. The camera is actually provided by Tech Imaging Services,[12] not Konica Minolta, which merely sponsors the feature to promote its Bizhub line of printers (Konica Minolta was previously well known as a still-image camera manufacturer but sold that product line to Sony in 2006).[13]

Masters Tournament

As previously mentioned, CBS has televised the Masters Tournament in the United States every year since 1956,[14][15] when it used six cameras and covered only the final four holes. Tournament coverage of the first eight holes did not begin until 1993 because of resistance from the tournament organizers, but by 2006, over 50 cameras were used. USA Network added first- and second-round coverage in 1982, which was also produced by the CBS production team. Ironically, USA is now co-owned with CBS rival NBC through NBCUniversal.

In 2005, CBS broadcast the tournament with high-definition fixed and handheld wired cameras, as well as standard-definition wireless handheld cameras. In 2007, CBS added "Masters Extra," an hour's extra full-field bonus coverage daily on the internet, preceding the television broadcasts. In 2008, CBS added full coverage of holes 15 and 16 live on the web.

While Augusta National Golf Club has consistently chosen CBS as its U.S. broadcast partner, it has done so on successive one-year contracts.[16] Due to the lack of long-term contractual security, as well as the club's limited dependence on broadcast rights fees (owing to its affluent membership), it is widely held that CBS allows Augusta National greater control over the content of the broadcast, or at least perform some form of self-censorship, in order to maintain future rights. The club, however, has insisted it does not make any demands with respect to the content of the broadcast.[17][18]


There are some controversial aspects to this relationship. Announcers refer to the gallery as "patrons" rather than spectators or fans ("gallery" itself is also used), and use the term "second cut" instead of "rough" (however, the second cut is normally substantially shorter than comparable "primary rough" at other courses).[17] Announcers who have been deemed not to have acted with the decorum expected by the club have been removed, notably Jack Whitaker[19] and analyst Gary McCord.[17] Whitaker referred to the gallery at the end of the 18-hole Monday playoff in 1966 as a "mob" and missed five years (19671971);[19] McCord last worked on the Masters telecast in 1994, being banned that summer after using the terms "bikini wax" and "body bags" in his descriptions.[20] There also tends to be a lack of discussion of any controversy involving Augusta National, such as the 2003 Martha Burk protests.[18] However, there have not been many other major issues in recent years.

Augusta National regulations

As Augusta National Golf Club has its own television contract with CBS, and is separate from the PGA Tour, the contract carries different regulations than other tournaments.

Commercial interruptions are restricted compared to most television programming. A typical hour of television in daytime or primetime carries 38 minutes of programming and 22 minutes of commercials. Augusta limits the time allocated to commercials to four minutes per hour (as opposed to the usual 12 or more); this is subsidized by selling exclusive sponsorship packages to three companies.[16] In the immediate aftermath of the Martha Burk controversy, there were no commercials during the 2003 and 2004 broadcasts,[17] although international commercial broadcasters continued to insert their own commercials into the coverage. The Players Championship began imposing the same rule in 2007 and the U.S. Open attempted to follow suit to a lesser extent in 2005, and will do so again with a new contract in 2015.

The club also disallows promotions for other network programs, except an on-screen mention of 60 Minutes should the final round run long, or right before the coverage ends.[16] Other broadcast material not allowed include sponsored graphics used in regular PGA Tour events, blimps and on-course announcers.[16] There is also typically no cut-in for other news and sports, either from CBS or its affiliates. CBS uses "Augusta" by Dave Loggins as the event telecast's distinctive theme music.

Augusta National has placed significant restrictions on the tournament's broadcast hours compared to other major championships, perhaps to increase the tournament's ratings, or to reward ticket-holders. Only in the 21st century did the tournament allow CBS to air 18-hole coverage of the leaders, a standard at the other three majors.[17] Only three hours of cable coverage is scheduled for the early rounds each day (CBS has a highlights package that airs in late night on Thursday and Fridays during the tournament). International broadcasters do not receive additional coverage, although they may take commercial breaks at different times from CBS or ESPN. As noted before, an additional hour of coverage each day is streamed online.[16]



PGA Tour
PGA Tour – alternated with NBC in special instances


  • The Shark Shootout, which began in 1989 as the RMCC Invitational, was originally broadcast in the United States by the USA Network and CBS, with USA broadcasting the first round on a tape-delayed basis, and CBS handling the second round live. Not all the country saw the final round live, as CBS' commitment to the NFL only allowed part of the country to see the round as it takes place, with the rest of the U.S. seeing the event beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. In 2007, the event was moved to December, and was broadcast live by both Golf Channel and NBC, and later moved to Fox in 2014.
  • CBS covered the first three Presidents Cups (1994, 1996 and 1998).
  • CBS covered the Bob Hope Classic tournament in 2003.

CBS has covered nearly every event on the PGA Tour schedule at some point in time, being the Tour's main television partner since the early 1970s.

Champions Tour


Theme music

CBS' PGA coverage has used several different pieces of music throughout its history. The current theme music was introduced in 2015 and was composed by Helmut von Lichten. From 2003-2014, a Yanni composition, "Fanfare," has been used as the theme for the broadcasts. Past theme music has included "Take It From The Top" by Earl Klugh (mid-1980s) and "St. Ives Theme" by Lalo Schifrin (late 1970s to early 1980s). As with the Masters Tournament (see above), the PGA Championship uses its own distinct theme music, which has included "The Gift" by David Barrett (1991–2002) and "Burlingame" by E.S. Posthumus (2003–2014).[21] CBS has also used "The Thrill of Victory" by E.S. Posthumus on its coverage of the Masters, along with several pieces by David Dachinger in a collection titled "Master Works".

In 2015, both the PGA Tour and PGA Championship coverage began using new theme music. The PGA Tour broadcasts began using "Tour of Champions" by Helmut Von Lichten as the theme music. The PGA Championship telecasts began using a separate Von Lichten composition, the name of which has not been revealed. TNT also uses a different version of the Von Lichten PGA Championship theme, composed by Trevor Rabin.


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External links

Preceded by
PGA Championship network television broadcaster
Succeeded by
Preceded by
The Masters Tournament network television broadcaster
Succeeded by