Golf Channel adding live college event, looking for more

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Golf Channel is interested in live programming from Monday to Wednesday, and the answer might be found in college tournaments. It is adding another prestigious event this year, and more could be on the way.

“We’re trying to grow appropriately,” Tom Knapp, executive vice president of programming and partnerships, said last week at Pebble Beach when Golf Channel announced plans to televise the Western Intercollegiate. “Somewhere in the 10-to-12 range feels right as a long-term goal.”

Golf Channel already has the East Lake Cup in the fall, along with the NCAA men’s and women’s championships in May, which has made for compelling television with eight finalists competing in team match play.

The Western Intercollegiate is next.

The 54-hole stroke play event is entering its 73rd year and is held at storied Pasatiempo, an Alister MacKenzie design in Santa Cruz, California. It will be televised live from April 15-17, the Monday through Wednesday right after the Masters.

Getting televised live will only add to the prestige of what already is one of the premier college events in the spring.

The trick is figuring out what else would fit. It helps to have courses with heritage, such as East Lake and Pasatiempo, and Knapp said there needs to be a balance between fall and spring. Golf Channel already has elevated interest in college golf through the NCAAs, and more live events could be a plus.

“We learned a lot when we started doing this,” Knapp said. “Thirty percent of sports fans are golf fans, and 60 percent of sports fans are college fans. To be able to combine those is huge for us.”

Knapp said he hoped to have a full college slate of events over the next four years, conceding that not every tournament (or course) works for TV. Even so, it can be hard for the average fan to keep track of a college season, such as who is playing where.

“We’re trying to help with that to a degree that we can come up with a televised series that makes sense,” he said.

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