Golf stars criticise reduced BBC coverage of European Tour

Top ranked British golfers Lee Westwood and Luke Donald have criticised UK public-service broadcaster the BBC for its reduced coverage of the sport.

Westwood and Donald spoke out after UK pay-television broadcaster BSkyB renewed its deal for the European Tour series and Ryder Cup tournament in a six-year agreement, from 2013 to 2018, agreed with European Tour Productions, a joint venture between the European PGA Tour and the IMG Media agency.

Under the deal, Sky acquired the exclusive live UK rights for the European Tour’s PGA Championship and Scottish Open tournaments, meaning the BBC will broadcast only six days of live men’s professional golf next year. Seven years ago, the BBC showed 24 days of live golf per year.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” Westwood said, according to the Independent newspaper. “Actually, it’s very poor. It doesn’t encourage people who would not ordinarily take up the game. From a golfing standpoint the guys running the BBC aren’t doing a very good job.”

Donald said: “The game hasn’t been this exciting for years, particularly from a UK standpoint with Lee, Rory [McIlroy] and myself in the top three [of the world golf rankings] and others such as Justin Rose winning as well. You would have thought the BBC would have been clamouring to try to get as much on television as possible. There’s a certain tradition of golf being on the BBC and that seems to be being lost.”