Apparently, the PGA Tour is still struggling to figure out this whole digital-media thing. According to golf reporters at the tour’s Farmers Insurance Open Thursday, the PGA sent an email threatening to pull credentials from reporters who were sending live result Tweets from the course.
Stephanie Wei, a freelance golf writer who does work for Sports Illustrated Golf+ (and is likely to have an expanded role in the golf media world after some promising video-reporting segments over the past year), shared the PGA’s warning email on her golf blog. Wei, one of the more prolific tweeters in the golf media who regularly follow the tour, did a bunch of shot-by-shot tweets while following Tiger Woods’ round Thursday at Torrey Pines.
In the days of yore, the Tour’s inclination to “prohibit the use of real-time, play-by-play transmission in digital outlets” might have been understandable. But as the Tour itself promotes on-course fan phone use and social media interaction, where does it draw the line between reporters and fans? Will the Tour hunt down and expel fans who are tweeting results they see happening in front of their eyes?
At last year’s U.S. Open, as well as other Tour stops, the supposed rule cited by the Tour was violated by numerous media, with many even posting pictures via Twitter as they followed golfers around the course. As an avid golf fan who can’t always be in front of a TV, the multiple tweets were a great way to stay in touch, and added flavor as a “second screen” option while watching live coverage on TV. If anything the Tour should be trying to get more people to tweet, not less.
Why the Tour is choosing now to enforce its Twitter ban is a mystery, especially when you consider how, on other fronts, the Tour is opening up and expanding its digital media presence, including having more live video available online.
Is the Tour really worried about tweeting reporters stealing fans’ eyeballs from its licensed (and expensive to rights-purchasers) content? Instead of banning it (and potentially pissing off fans who like following different Twitter streams for the commentary and take from the individuals they follow) why doesn’t the Tour do the simple and powerful thing of simply retweeting the reporters’ efforts, thereby increasing the Tour’s reach and publicity — for free? Aren’t you more likely to go turn on the TV if you see some tweets telling you that Tiger or Phil or Rory is on a hot streak?
To me, the Tour’s new enforcement of its no-tweet policy seems like a millionaire griping about losing a quarter in the parking meter. And we know how well those arguments go over, don’t we? Here’s our no-charge advice, PGA: Let the tweets run free.