Schupak: Everyone is a critic of NBC’s TV coverage of the 2022 U.S. Open

When it comes to watching professional golf tournaments on TV, everyone is a critic.

That goes double for the majors. On a wild Saturday with a bunched leaderboard, Tommy Roy, NBC’s lead golf producer, faced a difficult task of showing the drama unfold. Where was local boy Keegan Bradley? Why was the final group, with Collin Morikawa sputtering, ghosted? How many “Playing Through” commercials could we possibly see?

The complaining on social media was plentiful, and we’ll get there, but first a couple of plaudits do need to be passed out. Watching the early morning broadcast some six hours before the final group teed off offered some great insight as analyst Arron Oberholser explained the risk-reward challenge of the tee shot at 18 with help from Justin Leonard in the booth. About 10 hours later, defending champion Jon Rahm drove into the left fairway bunker that Oberholser warned viewers about and hit the lip with his second shot, eventually making double bogey and squandering his lead. If you watched this segment, you were prepped for Rahm’s 18th-hole disaster.

Another highlight was a segment with former caddie turned analyst John Wood, who took viewers inside the yardage book and explained the ins and outs of how a caddie preps in order to assist their player that the casual viewer probably didn’t know. No Laying Up also pointed this out on social media.

Wood also is proving to be a good foot soldier and helped viewers understand how on a breezy day the course was changing into a fast-and-firm test that led to scores ballooning in the afternoon.

“I’m 220 yards from this green and I could hear that ball bounce like I was standing next to it,” he said. “These [greens] are firming up.”

One more standout: the 4D replays. It’s sponsored content but these visuals are a significant upgrade from the days of CBS’s Peter Kostis and the Minolta Biz Hub Swing Vision, although I’d take Kostis breaking down swings over NBC’s Paul Azinger any day. It feels like the swing nerds out there could really learn something watching the best players in the world through this technology.

All right, I promised a roundup of some of the most scathing social media criticism of the broadcast and the reactions came fast and furious in real time. Ryan Ballengee of Golf News Net encapsulated the discord between fans and the viewing experience in a nutshell in his tweet.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m pretty sure the “market research” that deepfriedegg refers to below doesn’t exist.

There were several complaints that various players went into the witness protection program during the telecast at times and weren’t seen for long stretches, including this tweet from Josh Babbitt, wondering what happened to Bradley.

This tweet from No Laying Up’s D.J. Piehowski made me laugh. NBC likes to tout how it shows every player in the field because if they earned a spot in the field they deserve to be shown. Piehowski took a playful shot at too many commercials (in its defense, NBC’s forking over big bucks in rights fees and they’ve got to pay the bills) and I can confirm that Mike Tirico didn’t actually say this…but, oh, if he did!

No Laying Up could be accused of piling on with its multiple tweets, but that doesn’t mean the takes are wrong.

Last but not least, Geoff Shackelford couldn’t help but point out that the ads didn’t slow down as the telecast reached its climax.

The good news is Golf Twitter can breathe a sigh of relief: the final hour of Sunday’s broadcast is presented commercial-free thanks to the good folks at Rolex. There’s still one more round to go and with a tight, star-studded leaderboard we are bound to have Sunday drama. And perhaps free golf: every championship held at The Country Club has been settled in a playoff. Enjoy the final round beginning at 9 a.m. ET on Peacock, switching to USA Network at 10 and finally to NBC at 12 ET. Let’s have a day.