San Jose State hosts the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo (SJSU Athletics photo)
Six years have passed since the Golf Channel first televised the NCAA Championship in 2014. The cameras have returned every year since, and now college golf TV coverage also includes the NCAA Women’s Championship (in its fifth year) and the annual East Lake Cup. This week, the coverage list expands to the Western Intercollegiate.
There’s a formula when it comes to televised college golf, and it starts with the time slot.
“We’ve been very aggressive to be on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, so we’re the only game in town,” said Brandt Packer, the Golf Channel producer behind Western Intercollegiate coverage. “So it can’t get lost if you’re shuffling through and there’s a Web.com followed by an LPGA followed by Champions followed by PGA Tour.”
Packer also produced this month’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur coverage for NBC Sports. Storytelling in this sector of the game can be harder to pull off on a network, which will draw a broader audience, than on the Golf Channel, which has a more niche audience.
Over three days at the Alister Mackenzie-designed Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz, Calif., Packer said the goal is to show as many players from as many different schools as possible. The coverage will begin around the par-3 eighth, and culminate, of course, on the par-3 18th. The variety of holes gives the broadcast team options, which is the beauty of a venue like Pasatiempo.
“When you have the 18th hole there, an unbelievable par 3, for me that will be where I’ll bail to a lot early on,” Packer said. “Even if guys aren’t playing great, showcase some schools that don’t get on very much. A kid could be 7 over and we can still go there and tell his story.”
Golf Channel will broadcast three hours of live coverage on each of the three days of the event, then replay it overnight. Packer said the Western Intercollegiate coverage will look very similar, visually, to an NCAA Championship, the East Lake Cup or even a Web.com Tour event.
Earlier this spring, Golfweek
presented a live-stream broadcast from both the Prestige at PGA West and the Southern Highlands Intercollegiate. The Big Ten Network broadcasts golf within the conference – there were cameras at the Big Ten Match Play in February – and the ACC has presented coverage through a livestream in the past.
After his Pepperdine team placed third at the Prestige – and drew a final-round (heavily broadcast) pairing alongside Oklahoma State and winner LSU – head coach Michael Beard hoped that broadcasting of any kind was the wave of the future in college golf. He spent the Prestige week sending the livesteam link to any family, friends, alumni and supporters of the Pepperdine program who he thought might tune in.
When Beard looked ahead to the Western, which Pepperdine will also compete in, he acknowledged that this level of coverage is hard for most host teams to pull off, but even livestreaming offers valuable exposure without the cost and hurdles.
“It’s just enough coverage – enough where people can see and get a taste of (college golf) and get an idea of what it looks like,” Beard said.
Golf Channel is exploring ways to offer more regular-season coverage, but Packer echoes the reality that there are hurdles. Chief among those is cost, not surprisingly.
“It doesn’t happen cheap and it doesn’t happen for free,” Packer explained.
The Western Intercollegiate coverage will be presented with the financial backing of Topgolf. San Jose State continues to host the long-running event, but hosting duties can present a challenge, too. If the host university belongs to a conference with existing network deals, then those networks own the coverage.
Still, with every event that is televised, there’s the potential to grow a deeper college-golf fan base. Golf Channel’s college coverage will exceed 50 hours in 2019.
“Because we do so much of this, we’re able to present it in a way that the viewer feels comfortable,” Packer said. “We’re able to tell the story and show off the good golf.”
How to watch:
Monday April 15
(Round 1, stroke play): 7-10 p.m. eastern (live) / midnight-3 a.m. (replay)
Tuesday April 16
(Round 2, stroke play): 7-10 p.m. eastern (live) / 1-4 a.m. (replay)
Wednesday April 17
(Final round, stroke play): 4-7 p.m. eastern (live) / midnight-3 a.m. (replay)
ABOUT THE Western Intercollegiate
54-hole men's college tournament hosted by
San Jose State University. “The Western” is
of the most highly recognized national
tournaments, conducted since 1946
Golf Club; a historic venue where a player’s
is always well-tested. Pasatiempo perennially
ranks among the best by all of the major golf
The format is slightly different than most college
events. Six-player teams take the best five scores
each round to determine the team score.
View Complete Tournament Information