Delays are issue for television coverage

KAPALUA – The Golf Channel and NBC have had quite a bit of air time to fill and little action to talk about at the weather-plagued Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

It’s a good thing analyst Mark Rolfing is a Kapalua resident and buddies with a couple of players in the field since no official scores have been posted over the first three days because of high wind and rain.

“The lucky thing for me being from Hawaii is I can kill time by talking about Hawaii,” Rolfing said Sunday. “I’m usually the go-to guy even though I’m in the tower on the 16th hole. My mic’s open all the time. They can come to me if they show a shot of Molokai or something like that. I can explain what the islands are, what the name of the rock is over there.”

Rolfing met up with some players prior to the start of the PGA Tour’s season-opening tournament at the Kapalua Plantation Course.

“I’ve had three or four guys that have been here for about a week that I’ve done a lot of things with, most of them water activities,” Rolfing said. “Paddleboarding or snorkeling with Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson or Rickie Fowler. I will gravitate back to guys that I know sort of what’s been going on with them. Rickie went over to Paia the other day for big-wave surfing (as a spectator) and that kind of stuff.”

Rolfing thinks television viewers may have actually enjoyed what little coverage of actual play has been available so far.

“I think the people watching at home on Golf Channel and NBC were entertained for the couple hours we were on for today because they like seeing the pros struggle,” he said.

The tournament is to have 36 holes today – the originally scheduled final day of the event – and another 18 on Tuesday.

The Sony Open, the first full-field event on the PGA Tour, is scheduled to start Thursday at Waialae Country Club on Oahu. Ken Carpenter, the technical manager for The Golf Channel, doesn’t foresee major problems despite a lost day of preparation.

“All the main trucks and the camera and replay devices, graphics devices are all leaving here,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a challenge because you just don’t drive from island to island. They all have to get on a barge so we’ve delayed the barge, but there are other issues with ports. I guess the small port here on Maui can handle one barge at a time. When we think we want to load there is a scheduled barge already in that spot, so it’s a lot of juggling.”

The conditions have been something to consider for the camera operators atop the 26 towers along the course, three of them 40 feet tall.

“Our guys do this for a living,” Carpenter said. “They’ve all had engineering studies done on what kind of wind speeds they can stay up in. But we tell the guys, ‘I don’t care if it’s rated for 40 (mph) and it’s only going 32, if you don’t feel safe, then don’t go up there.’ “

* Kyle Sakamoto is at