Logistics had a lot to do with it. With negotiations ongoing and an agreement possible at any time, it wouldn’t have made sense for Golf Channel to send a lot of extra personnel to Hawaii and the Bahamas.
So, when talks with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents Golf Channel’s camera and sound personnel, broke down on Sunday, the network was left scrambling to get pictures and sound. The final round of the Diamond Resorts Invitational pro-am in Orlando went off without a hitch because Golf Channel offices were a 20-minute drive from the course and anyone who’d ever operated a camera in college was pressed into service. Even vice presidents were on the ground running golf carts and hauling cameras between holes.
The final round of the Sony Open in Hawaii and the second round of the Web.com Tour event in the Bahamas were different stories. Even with on-course commentator Jerry Foltz running one of the camera towers in Honolulu, the coverage had a definite Chris Schenkel Wide World of Sports kind of feel.
Still, after some technicians walked out (and not all of them honored the strike), Golf Channel aired 19 hours of live coverage. By Tuesday’s Web.com final round, the average viewer could barely tell a difference in coverage.
It’s always easy to blame management in these things, but IATSE weathered a dissolution vote several months ago and more Golf Channel technicians come back to work each day despite no resolution to the dispute.
“Golf Channel has been working on negotiating an agreement for nine months with a union that represents our live tournament technicians,” the network said in a statement. “Those efforts have not yet yielded a resolution, and we look forward to reaching a mutually agreeable contract. However, some technicians have chosen to walk off the job. We have contingency plans in place, and will continue to deliver live coverage. Thank you to our viewers for their patience.”
No interruption in golf coverage is expected this week or in the weeks to come.