It was only a year ago that Phil Mickelson waylaid the golf broadcast world.
Speaking from the Saudi International, Mickelson shredded what he called the PGA Tour’s “obnoxious greed.” As he spoke, the 6-time major champ honed in on golf’s broadcasts, claiming the Tour sat on an untapped pile of “digital assets” worth ”$20 billion,” and utilized that to stifle its own broadcast product.
“If I had access to my own channel and access to my own media, I would have a camera and microphone on my hat. And on my [caddie] brother’s hat. And on my golf bag with a 360 view. I would bring the viewers in,” he said. ”They would see and hear what is going on. But none of that happens [currently] because why would any player do that? To make more millions for the Tour?”
“They already make enough,” Mickelson said. ”The Tour only understands leverage. And now the players are getting some of that. So things are changing and will continue to change. I just hope the leverage doesn’t go away. If it does, we’ll be back to the status quo.”
It took the better part of a year, but it seems the Tour’s broadcast partners were listening to at least some of Mickelson’s now-famous diatribe.
On Thursday morning, NBC announced the creation of ”BagCam” — a new piece of golf TV tech utilizing a camera that will capture a golf hole from the vantage point of “a 7-iron,” per NBC’s release.
Justin Thomas will be the first player to experiment with the new technology, which will be utilized during the 17th and 18th holes during Friday’s Golf Channel broadcast from the Valspar Championship. According to NBC, ”BagCam” will capture a 360-degree view of Thomas and caddie Jim ”Bones” Mackay’s final two holes on Friday, providing a golf-specific expansion upon the on-course interview segments that have become so popular in recent months.
Of course, it should be noted that BagCam bears a striking resemblance to the golf broadcast technology first proposed by Mickelson last year, both in concept and reality. In all likelihood, NBC is borrowing technology similar to what was utilized by both Thomas and Mickelson during the pair’s appearances in The Match, in which behind-the-scenes cameras and microphones were central to the overall viewing experience. (Thomas’ BagCam will not have an attached microphone.)
“We are always exploring ways to innovate within our golf coverage while not disrupting or interfering with what’s happening on the course,” lead NBC Golf producer Tommy Roy said in a statement announcing the technology. “BagCam will provide a unique perspective for the viewers at home, and we thank Justin Thomas and Bones for letting us join them on Friday afternoon on Golf Channel and Peacock.”
Thomas will tee off on Friday at the Valspar Championship shortly after 1:00 p.m. ET, meaning the grand debut of BagCam should be expected for around 6 p.m.
Unfortunately for Phil, it might be hard to reap the rewards of his own ideation. His first round from LIV Tucson will be underway at roughly the same time.