Clubs angry at Open sell-out

SEVERAL golf clubs and their managers have expressed their anger that the Open Championship will not be shown live on terrestrial television from 2017 after Sky Sports won the rights to broadcast the tournament in a five-year deal after it has appeared on the BBC for the last 60 years, according to Golf Club Management.

The announcement comes as a multitude of golf clubs are struggling with falling participation, and many have blamed the loss of top golf e vents on terrestrial television over the last 30 years as one of the main reasons why.

While the mainstream media has focused on the comments of top golfers, such as Lee Westwood, who have lashed out at the decision, golf clubs seem to be equally furious.

Alastair Griffiths, general manager of Saddleworth Golf Club, said: “They just don’t get it. Golf needs free-to-air TV coverage to survive but it seems that the appeal of the money was too great to resist, even at the expense of the very game itself. When the last person leaves the building can they please remember to put the lights out.”

On social media Fynn Valley Golf Club retweeted messages that stated ‘sad day for golf’, ‘could be detrimental to participation’ and ‘disgraceful, money-driven and short-sighted’. Similarly, The Buckinghamshire retweeted a post stating that the decision ‘will consign golf to the margins’ and Allendale Golf Club simply wrote ‘The Open and Sky is about megabucks we never see at the other end of the scale. Not wild, bloody livid.’

Lee Westwood, meanwhile, said it was an “absolute disgrace” that the Open does not enjoy protected status as one of sport’s ‘crown jewels’ – a small list of events which must be broadcast on terrestrial television.

The BBC will show the next two Opens, and has retained live radio rights – as well as the rights to a daily, two-hour highlights programme every evening from 2017.

It is not possible to make an informed case that participation is linked to free-to-air TV viewing

Golf’s governing body, The R&A, reportedly accepted a £10m-a-year deal from Sky, trumping the £7m that the BBC had been paying – and the organisation said extra funds will be put into helping develop the game at a grass roots level.

“We have looked at this issue very carefully and believe it is not possible to make an informed case that participation is simply and directly linked to free-to-air television viewing. There is no question that free-to-air sports broadcasts generate good exposure for sport, we see this time and again through the Olympic Games, the World Cup and Wimbledon. But, firm conclusions about their positive impact on participation cannot be drawn,” said R&A CEO Peter Dawson.

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