Golf Channel, having used its “Spotlight” coverage to provide alternate vistas of key holes on the PGA Tour, is looking to play a different draw for viewers through a second-screen experience with the upcoming Ryder Cup later this month.
Stepping onto the course for the first time with live coverage on Friday, Sept. 26, Golf Channel will tee off the Ryder Cup Alternate Shot, featuring a different view of the action complementing NBC’s live weekend presentation on Sept. 27 and 28 (see schedule below).
ESPN previously aired the biennial competition’s first day of the biennial team competition between the U.S. and Europe. The stage this time is the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland.
NBC Sports’ gambit marks the first time a European-hosted Ryder Cup will air live and be streamed in this country -- via the NBC Sports Live Extra and Golf Live Extra apps.
Alternate Shot will be hosted by Emmy-nominated David Feherty – a 1991 Ryder Cup European Team member, now an American citizen and host of the network’s award-winning Feherty – and Morning Drive host Gary Williams.
They will be joined by Lanny Wadkins – the former U.S. captain and the American with the second most Ryder Cup match wins behind Golf Channel co-founder Arnold Palmer – and ex U.S. Ryder Cup captain and player Corey Pavin, plus former team members David Duval and Justin Leonard.
“There is nothing like the relationships between these players and their captains,” said Golf Channel executive producer Molly Solomon in an interview. “This group has been in those positions. We want to find out what the players are thinking, what are the strategies. Let’s have a conversation.”
As such, Alternate Shot is akin to the coaches’ channel ESPN used during its “Megacast” that flanked ABC’s coverage of the 2014 BCS Championship game.
The coverage will also showcase different graphics and social media entries (pictured, a mock-up of Alternate Shot).
Solomon also wants Alternate Shot to provide the European perspective of the proceedings. Former captains and players Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomery, Tony Jacklin and Darren Clarke, as well as Peter “Voice of Golf” Alliss and Jesper Parnevik all will be weighing in on the weekend action.
Golf Channel’s coverage will also include the European feed. “NBC might be on the eighth, but [Europe] might be focused on Rory [McIlroy], who just did something on six,” said Solomon. “And, you know, they commentate differently over there.”
There will also be hands-on analysis featuring Golf Channel’s simulator, which has been loaded with a virtual version of the Centenary Course at Gleneagles.
“When a player drops one in the middle of the fairway 150 yards from the pin, Lanny Wadkins will show us how that shot was played, and what are the next options,” Solomon said. “Or he’ll show us how the player could have changed that shot.”
Does the U.S. have a chance to stop a three-peat by the powerful European side?
“If you look at the world rankings, Europe is the favorite. But this is an unpredictable event that’s about the right guys, who is playing well and team chemistry,” Solomon said. “Then, there’s the pomp and the patriotism and the way the crowd will react to the Americans. That can galvanize the U.S. team. I’m never surprised, if there’s an upset at the Ryder Cup.”
NBC Sports' Ryder Cup Schedule
Friday, Sept. 26 Ryder Cup – Day One 2:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Golf Channel
Saturday, Sept. 27 Ryder Cup – Day Two 3 a.m.-1 p.m. NBC*
Ryder Cup Alternate Shot 3 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Golf Channel
*Coverage on NBC will begin at the conclusion of regularly scheduled late-night programming in Mountain and Pacific time zones. Streaming will be available via NBC Sports Live Extra
Sunday, Sept. 28 Ryder Cup – Final Day 7 a.m.-1 p.m. NBC
Ryder Cup Alternate Shot 7 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Golf Channel