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Guests bring life to ESPN's Buck-led PGA Championship alternate feed

ESPN's latest alternative broadcast concept came to golf Thursday with “The PGA Championship with Joe Buck and Michael Collins,” and while the telecast "started slowly, it picked up steam when the guests started to show up," according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. Things picked up "about 20 minutes into the show" when Peyton and Eli Manning showed up. Peyton told "great stories about playing golf with Tiger Woods as Woods was being shown struggling in the first round." Fred Couples "appeared later and was on fire with stories about getting through college without taking tests." Other guests, like Baseball HOFer Ken Griffey Jr. and ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke, "didn’t work as well." The key to "any so-called Manningcast is that it must be an alternative to the actual game broadcast." However, Buck is "not really an alternative" as he is "too familiar as a play-by-play guy to be considered cutting edge." Collins is "familiar to ESPN viewers as a long-time golf correspondent." That "might account for a slower start to Thursday’s debut." Traditional golf fans "will just hate what ESPN, Buck and Collins presented Thursday and will present again Friday." But since ESPN "doesn’t own rights to many golf telecasts, this might be the last time we see the idea until the PGA next year" (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 5/20). 

TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT: GOLF.com's James Colgan wrote the alternate broadcast was "odd, it was unique and it was decidedly not buttoned-up," having the "tenor of a Twitch stream, the interview lineup of a late-night talk show, and the comedic sensibility of something in between the two." Buck "provided his golf knowledge makes him a natural fit calling the sport," but it will be "interesting to see if ESPN considers leaning on Buck's golf knowledge heading into the future." There is "less analysis" on the PGA Championship's version of the show than on the "MNF" version but "perhaps that's by design." It all "lowers the barrier for casual fans to watch the sport." Colgan: "It was simple, it was easy, the bells and whistles were noticeably absent. Would we want this from my golf broadcasts every week? Definitely not. Were we glad we got it with the Manningcast? Absolutely" (GOLF.com, 5/19).

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