The BBC And Golf's Relationship Hits New Low

We recently learnt that the BBC will not be showing any highlights of The Masters for the first time in 55 years.

But now, in an exclusive with the Telegraph's James Corrigan, the corporation reportedly turned down the opportunity to show PGA Tour highlights for free on a number of occasions.

These included highlights from the Players Championship this week but the BBC weren't keen as they continue to go after a younger audience. Golf and the corporation have been at loggerheads for some time now with Sky Sports taking over the reins at Augusta in 2011, the BBC showed live coverage over the weekend, and that was then reduced to a highlights programme in 2020.

An inside source told the Telegraph: “The PGA Tour was willing to give away the highlights to the BBC for a potential programme that could have gone out every Monday night, or even just when it chose, such as for The Players, which is the Tour’s flagship event,” the source was quoted as saying.

“It would not have had to pay any rights fees. This offer was made on multiple occasions, including in recent years. But the answer came back that it was not interested because it ‘does not suit the demographic’ the BBC is trying to reach.

“That is a stunning attitude, even if you simply look at this week and see that Rory McIlroy has a chance to go back to World No. 1 and so many other UK players are teeing it up. The BBC would rather get down with the kids and instead put out stuff like the UFC.”

The source went on to add that the prospect of the corporation showing much golf in the near future looks fairly remote with their head of sport clearly not a fan of the sport.

“Barbara Slater clearly has a huge downer on golf and probably believes the old stereotype of dusty old clubhouses, despite the promising growth in the women’s and junior games. It is now plainly a BBC TV policy.”

The BBC still have contracts in place to televise highlights of the Ryder Cup, The Open and Women’s Open.

If you were looking for a representation of how the BBC likely views golf then you only need to look at how they cover the game in their end-of-year Sports Personality of the Year show. Golfers generally struggle to make a dent in the leading runners and riders and last year the US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick was omitted from the short list for the main prize.

And all this at a time when more people are playing golf than they have done in the past 30 years.