Golf Channel, which is going to provide unique vistas to one of the sport's special venues this weekend, drove to a fast start with its coverage of the first round of The Honda Classic.
NBC Sports Group's dedicated golf service averaged a 1.0 cable, translating into 1.044 viewers for its March 1 telecast from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. of the first round from the PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., according to Nielsen data.
Both measures were up 86% from first-round coverage of the 2011 event and now stand as Golf Channel's top mark for the first round at The Honda Classic.
After stepping onto the course with its Friday afternoon coverage in the aforementioned window and again on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Golf will complement broadcast brethren NBC's presentation of the third round from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. by spotlighting the courses three signature holes known as "The Bear Trap." The networks will take similar approach shots during the tourney's final round on Sunday.
Golf is able to present the supplemental coverage as part of the rights deal that the PGA Tour struck with NBC and CBS last summer.
Designed by the "Golden Bear," Jack Nicklaus, the PGA National Resort Championship Course contains one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour. At last year's event, "The Bear Trap" played very rough, with the field averaging nearly two strokes over par for the three holes.
By super-serving fans, Golf Channel will afford viewers a chance to see how some of the best in the game fare through Nicklaus' three-hole gauntlet, which can make or break a golfer's quest for victory. For example, during the 1994 Senior PGA Championship, Raymond Floyd entered "The Bear Trap" with a one-shot lead, before dropping five strokes to par, en route to a five-shot loss to Lee Trevino.
The cable network will supply a separate production for its Bear Trap telecast, utilizing its own equipment, crew and commentators. Throughout the week, Golf Channel will be gathering player reaction to the trio of holes and will integrate those interviews into the telecast, along with video of past, dramatic moments. The coverage also will feature graphics and statistics exclusive to playing "The Bear Trap," past and present.
Gary Williams will call the action at the 15th and 17th holes, with Jerry Foltz at 16, Phil Parkin on the course and Todd Lewis conducting player interviews. Frank Nobilo, a 14-time winner on professional tours around the world and a three-time member of the International Presidents Cup team, will serve as the main analyst.