Why is the 2017 Masters not on TV? Reasons the early rounds at Augusta can be so hard to watch

Sean Gibson
Plenty of people show up to watch the practice rounds at Augusta; it's easier than finding television coverage - EPA

The Masters is the first major championship in 2017 – but why will golf fans have such a struggle finding live television broadcasts of the action?

Viewing difficulty is not a new problem when the world's best golfers make their way to Augusta, Georgia in the US, though the situation is much improved on past years.

Augusta has long safeguarded its course from the threat of dwindling crowds, in the increasingly digital world of sports media coverage. The club is keen to retain not just its revenues but its prestige too.

And so the front nine holes were barely ever seen on television before the dawn of the 21st century; only in 2002 did Augusta allow for full broadcasts of the final round on Sunday.

Greater concessions are now made by the club, who have remained intransigent on wall-to-wall coverage but have nonetheless innovated to keep distant fans in touch with the action via different means.

The masters have released stunning drone-shot footage of the course ahead of the 2017 competition Credit: @TheMasters/Twitter

Coverage of the first three days of the four-day tournament-proper will begin only at 8pm BST. By then, even with the five-hour time difference, half a day's play will be lost to the ether for television viewers.

The main coverage is on Sky Sports 1, but featured coverage of groups of marquee players in rounds one and two will be available via Sky Sports Xtra.

Augusta are also once again allowing a live stream of play at Amen Corner (holes 11, 12, and 13) as well as the 15th and 16th holes, so fans can catch those segments of the players' early rounds on the opening three days.

In a cruel twist of fate, runner-up and defending champion Spieth was the man to present Willett with his green jacket in 2016 Credit: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty

Last year, viewers were able to tune in just in time to catch Jordan Spieth throw away his lead in the final round, with Danny Willett sweeping through to win his first major – the first European winner at Augusta in 17 years and only the second-ever Englishman to win The Masters.

One shred of video footage that has made it out of the club already is the release of Willett's menu for the Champion's Dinner to be held in his honour this weekend. Predictably, Yorkshire tea makes the cut for the Sheffield-born star.

 

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