clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

CBS' COVERAGE ADDS COLOR TO MASTERS' GREENS

Long before graphite shafts and oversized sweet spots changed golf forever, the sport's faithful embraced one of the most significant advancements the game has seen.

Twenty-nine years ago this week, CBS first brought color to televised golf, delivering a broadcast from the Masters that highlighted the colors of azaleas and dogwoods, not to mention fairways and greens."From the day I started in television, September 10, 1950, to that first colorcast in 1966, I had been doing Casablanca every day - black and white and round up the usual suspects," says Frank Chirkinian, who this weekend is producing and directing his 37th consecutive Masters tournament for CBS. "Now, all of a sudden, the whole thing just came to life. The first camera we turned on, everybody in the studio was spellbound, mesmerized. I was absolutely bowled over. It changed everything in golf broadcasts, a dramatic transformation."

Chirkinian is a visionary, despite the fact that he lives in the past when he refuses to allow women to comment on telecasts of men's golf. The 68-year-old Floridian is credited with the institution of the scoring system of listing a player's score by shots under or over par, the introduction of videotaping and editing golf matches to condense playing time on television, the enhancement of on-course sounds through the placement of microphones on tees and greens, and the use of cranes to hold fairway cameras.

Through 37 Masters, the coordinating producer/director's cameras have covered in excess of 100,000 drives, approach shots, chips and putts.

"This tournament has always been special to me and it always will be," he remarks. "It's something that transcends being a sporting event."

Chirkinian is even credited with convincing Masters officials 16 years ago to go to a sudden-death playoff format rather than stick with the traditional 18-hole Monday playoff.

"It was economically more sound for everybody and logistically better for the gallery," he recalls. "They simply took a walk through the woods from the green at 18 to the tee at 10."

Whether Chirkinian takes a walk from Augusta soon is anyone's guess. When he does leave, though, he'll take a bagful of memories.

For example, there was a moment in 1961 when Gary Player waited with his wife in the CBS studio as tournament leader Arnold Palmer arrived at No. 18. Needing a par-4 to win, the King carded a 6 to make Player the champion.

"He was just sitting there, doing nothing," Chirkinian says of Player. "For a moment, I thought he was just going to shake hands with his wife. It was a moment that demanded emotion, so I said, `Kiss her, you fool,' which he did."