Masters Diary: Sixty years of TV and lots of change over the years

It was 60 years ago this week that television viewers watched the Masters for the first time.

CBS produced the inaugural broadcast in 1956 and aired a total of 2½ hours of coverage over the final three days of play. The network used six cameras to report play on the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th greens and the 18th fairway. On the Sunday, CBS added a seventh camera. A lot has changed over the years.

Today, the network employs some 75 cameras to cover all 18 holes of the golf course and employs a host (Jim Nantz) and 17 analysts on various platforms . They bring the Masters to tens of millions of viewers in approximately 200 countries around the world in what is annually one of the most anticipated and popular telecasts in all of sports.

“It is amazing to think of the magnitude of our coverage of the Masters today and how it has grown,” says Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports. “We have a very strong relationship with Augusta National and the Tournament, and we have worked very hard together to make the broadcast better and better each and every year.”

The first national television broadcast of a golf tournament in America took place in 1954, when NBC carried that year’s U.S. Open. Clifford Roberts wanted to initiate similar publicity for the Masters, which had been staged for only the 18th time that spring, and he approached NBC about airing his Tournament as well. But the network declined. So Roberts reached out to CBS instead.

A confidant of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Roberts had taken note of how powerful television could be as a promotional tool as he watched his friend run for president of the United States in 1952. That led him to believe the medium could greatly increase the popularity of golf and also the Masters, and he was pleasantly surprised when some 10 million viewers tuned in to watch CBS’s initial broadcast of the Tournament in 1956. Clearly, Roberts – and the Club - was on to something.

Westwood makes a strike for the over 40s

European Tour veteran Lee Westwood was right in the mix at the business end of the Masters leaderboard after 54 holes, one of seven Englishmen to have made the halfway cut at Augusta. There were eight Englishmen in the field when play got under way, prompting Westwood to ask: “Who let us down?”

When told the weak link was rising star Andy Sullivan, the 29-year-old world number 30, Westwood, 42, harrumphed: “Kids nowadays.”

Langer won Masters twice before Spieth was born

Talking of veterans would not be complete without mention of Bernhard Langer, much discussed on these pages and rightly so.

The German, who was 58 years, 7 months and 14 days yesterday, won the 1985 and 1993 Masters, the latter just four months before Jordan Spieth was born.

His first victory eight years earlier saw him head a top 10 that included Seve Ballesteros, Raymond Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, David Graham and Lee Trevino.

Nicklaus would become the Masters’ oldest winner the following year.

Oldest winners of the four majors: Masters Tournament, 46 years, 2 months, 23 days, Jack Nicklaus, 1986; US Open, 45 years, 15 days, Hale Irwin, 1990; Open Championship, 46 years, 3 months, 10 days, Old Tom Morris, 1867; PGA Championship, 48 years, 4 months, 18 days, Julius Boros, 1968

A cool €1.58m cheque for winning the Masters

For the second Masters in a row, the champion picked up a cheque for a cool US$1.8 million, approximately €1.58m.

That’s a far cry from the $1,500 Horton Smith received for becoming the first winner of the Augusta National Invitational in 1936.


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