The image on the tube

There is no question that the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is an irreplaceable asset for Maui.

This year’s tournament was plagued by unfortunate weather that forced a Tuesday finish. Normally, the four days of broadcast on nationwide television is a priceless travelogue that relentlessly promotes tourism here.

The Maui tournament was weakened by gale-force winds. But by watching other events, we have noticed that there is a fundamental weakness in the PGA Tour’s approach to television’s presentation of its tournaments.

The best seats in the house (or on the course in the Tour’s case) are reserved for “skyboxes” surrounding the 18th – and sometimes other – greens. With the advent of the Golf Channel, every tournament has coverage of all four rounds – and, for at least the first two rounds of every tournament, those skyboxes are virtually empty.

To the average television viewer, it makes it appear that nobody is interested in the tournament. The TV cameras capture the action on the 18th green – and the empty seats in the skyboxes surrounding it.

Corporations pay a pretty penny to host their clients in the skyboxes right next to the action on the 18th green on the weekend. But on Thursday and Friday, those empty seats yawn at television cameras.

And those empty seats are devastating to the venues hosting the tournament.

There are fans present watching the tournaments, but they are out of sight of television viewers. Simply put, that denigrates the tournament,

If the mind is told on Thursday that nobody is interested in a tournament, there is no interest in tuning in on the other days.

The Tour needs to find a way to showcase its fans in telecasts. Give your “Big Bucks” skybox sponsors great seats – but not right next to the 18th green.

Reserve those seats for fans who actually care about golf – and are visible to television cameras.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.