by Ryan Isley
While most sports are trying to embrace social media, the PGA Tour is trying to prove once again that they are stuck in the past.
This past week, the PGA sent an email to reporters and media outlets reminding them of the tour’s policy about tweeting during an event and threatened to revoke the credentials of any reporter who is caught tweeting “real-time, play-by-play transmissions” during the event. They also said that it didn’t matter if the tweets came from the golf course or not, meaning that they were threatening to revoke the credentials of reporters even if they were sitting at home watching the tournament.
After hearing complaints about the policy, the PGA has now decided to allow reporters to send two tweets per hole. While that is progress, it is hardly acceptable. What is the PGA worried about – getting too popular? Because God forbid it would happen that someone starts watching golf or follows the tournament by keeping an eye on Twitter.
The first reason I have a problem with any policy from the PGA Tour banning or limiting tweets from reporters is that not all of the action is televised. The PGA doesn’t show every shot from every player on every hole on television and often doesn’t even start their television coverage until after half of the field has already played several holes. So the PGA Tour doesn’t want anybody to find out from Twitter how players are doing when the coverage isn’t on television? How are we supposed to follow the tournament – watch the live scoreboard on the PGA’s website that just shows scores and not details of the action?
Another reason with this policy ties directly into what is and what isn’t shown on television. When Tiger Woods is in a tournament, the television coverage shows at least 90% of the shots that he takes, whether he is in serious contention or not. Meanwhile, players who are within striking distance of the lead have many of their shots not shown at all or shown on delay. Having reporters who are at the event live-tweet those shots does not hurt the tour’s coverage of the event and in fact it probably enhances it for most fans. I know it does for me.
Speaking of reporters and tweets, are we really going to revoke the credentials of a reporter who is sitting at home watching the event like the rest of us who decides to send out tweets about the tournament? Forget all of the national reporters who cover the majority of the events but miss out on a few – what about the local reporters who cover tournaments when they come to their area? For example, the World Series of Golf Bridgestone Invitational is held here in Akron every summer. Is the PGA really prepared to decline credentials for the writers of the Akron Beacon Journal or the Cleveland Plain Dealer or any other outlets in the Akron and Cleveland area because that reporter is tweeting during The Masters?
Along those same line of tweeting from home, what about the players who are not in the tournament who are watching on television and are tweeting about the event? Would the PGA Tour be willing to reprimand Bubba Watson or Ricky Fowler if they were tweeting about a tournament that they decided to skip? Of course they wouldn’t. Then why is it acceptable to pull credentials from media members who do the same thing?
Even if the PGA Tour wants to stick to some sort of a stringent social media policy, how exactly do they expect to be able to uphold it when it happens? Will they employ people whose only job is to watch Twitter and see who is tweeting about the event? That would be the only way they would be able to come close to making sure this policy would be enforced. And even then, there is no way they would be able to catch every tweet that comes in about the tournament.
The PGA Tour needs to get with the times and realize that Twitter can be a powerful tool and could help the tour if used properly. If they keep up this charade, they will find out the power of social media anyway – only it won’t be beneficial to them.
Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go work on my credential application for the Bridgestone Invitational. Wonder if that will be approved?
Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org