Talk all you want about the online viewership stats for the NCAA basketball tournament — in my book, the Masters golf event is a much better workday time-waster, for several production and sport-inherent reasons.
If you don’t like golf or don’t care about Tiger Woods’ quest for the Grand Slam, I can’t help you there. But even casual followers of the sport should at least check out the live online coverage, especially the focused segments from “Amen Corner,” the famed stretch of holes #11, #12 and #13 at Augusta National. The widescreen option and excellent camera work — and did we mention no commercial breaks? — makes for a relaxing day of golf-coverage consumption while just an alt-tab away from real work. In my mind, golf is a better fit than basketball for the small screen since there is only one golfer to zoom in on (as opposed to 10 players), with more-predictable action for the cameras to follow. Plus the announcers give you handy audio cues (“here’s Tiger for birdie”) that allow you to switch from work in time to catch the onscreen action.
What makes the Masters work online is two things: The close-up, non-stop views of the best part of the course, as well as the pick-and-choose flexibility that makes newteevee a winning option. You can, of course, just watch the regular broadcast coverage (ESPN today, and CBS on the weekend) but there you are subject to a producer’s whims as to which golfer, or which hole, is on the screen.
At Masters.org, you’re in charge; if you want to watch Amen Corner all day, feel free. The wicked-tricky par-4 11th (with its nasty pond left), the storybook par-3 12th (small green over a small pond) and the classic risk-and-reward par-5 13th (go for it in two, if you can stop the ball on a long iron) provides more drama in a lore-filled setting that most regular tour stops can hope for over its entire 18 holes.
And there is also a separate stream for the underappreciated holes #15 and #16, the latter a par-3 with a severely sloped green that sometimes giveth, sometimes takes away. There are also the standard online create-and-share toys, but who has time for that stuff when you’re “working?”
Paul Kapustka, former managing editor for GigaOM, now has his own blog at Sidecut Reports.