‘Golf is well served by podcasts and there is huge interest in our sport’
Where else can you hear Harrington’s love for thrash-metal or Pepperell’s thoughts on Nigel Farage?
Ipretty much live on a motorway these days. Not in the way that many might suspect – in a dingy caravan by the hard shoulder, buffeted by the draft of passing lorries. Showering at Cherwell Valley Services and occasionally stealing a pasty from Greggs. What I mean is that like many people these days I spend hours in transit up and down the motorways of the UK. It’s just a necessary part of the lives we lead. It’s certainly part of the job I do and it is an enormous test of patience and resolve. I’ve heard talk of a small stretch of carriageway somewhere that is not a 50mph average speed limit, but I’m not sure I believe it.
The good news is that there are ways to make it all rather more bearable and one of them is listening to podcasts.
Now you may be entirely au-fait with the podcasting genre, in which case I am preaching to the converted. Or you may instead be in the camp populated by people such as my mother – to whom podcasts are just another part of that thing called “computers” and a bit of a mystery.
But podcasts are a huge part of broadcasting now. In a world where intelligent speech-based radio is in short supply and the news is all too depressing, they enable people to tailor their listening more to their specific tastes. And I’m glad to say that golf is very much on board.
I am duty-bound to tell you first of all about the BBC golf podcast, “The Cut”, which comes out weekly and pretty much covers the year. Though we are taking a break in December as my fees are starting to cripple the Corporation. I’m told that if we went the whole year round, they would have to cancel Countryfile.
It’s presented by Iain Carter and myself and is, in the spirit of all good podcasts, just a chat about golf – a combination of tournament reviews and previews, discussions of the burning issues of the day and a guest or two, all loosely tied together in a fairly informal ramble.
It wasn’t the easiest thing to get off the ground – several meetings and focus groups had to take place before those in power decided that golf was worthy of a podcast, but I’m glad to say that they did. The hardest thing was then to decide on a name and there are still occasional grumbles from those who wanted to call it “The Chipping Forecast”.
The key thing is that we get time (it can be as long or short as we want) without worrying about the constrictions of more conventional broadcasting. And it also presents golfers more as they really are. It is a far more relaxed environment than a pre-tournament or post-round interview.
Yes, you can hear from the players on their form, their coaches, insights from the Tour – the kind of really good, weighty stuff that we are covering this month in this magazine. But you are just as likely to hear the really crucial news – that Mel Reid meets Rory Mcilroy at her local supermarket in Florida or that Eddie Pepperell likes to put butter in his coffee.
Ah yes – Eddie Pepperell… If ever a golfer was made for podcasts then it is he.
I urge you to listen to his appearance on one of the other podcasts I am involved in – the European Tour’s “Life on Tour” podcast. Each episode is a fairly lengthy chat with a big name connected with the European Tour. It might be a caddy (Billy Foster, Fanny Sunesson) or a rules official (John Paramor) but most often is a big-name player. Those we have spoken to so far include Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer and Pepperell. For real insight into the mind of a golfer and the human side of professional golfers, the Harrington and Kaymer ones are hard to beat. For entertainment on every topic under the sun, Pepperell is the download for you.
The key thing with this podcast is that it gets proper time with the interviewee. Sitting down for an hour or so to talk about all manner of things as they take us through their lives on and off the course.
It can, though, go down unexpected avenues – Harrington’s love for the music of German thrash-metal band Rammstein, or Pepperell’s thoughts on Nigel Farage. A live-audience edition is planned for the week of the Tour Championship in Dubai, so by the time you read this I may well have been either sacked or arrested. The great thing about the podcasting world is the number to choose from. Sky Sports produce a regular offering and if you want a more transatlantic flavour then there are American efforts such as “The Fried Egg” and perhaps the kings of the genre “No Laying Up”.
I’m just glad that golf is well served and with the download figures available you can see that there is huge interest in our sport.
So try a few out. You might find them a welcome escape and help you get your golfing fix.
Even as you do battle with the Eddie Stobarts and the speed cameras of the M42.
‘THERE ARE STILL GRUMBLES FROM THOSE WHO WANTED TO CALL IT ‘THE CHIPPING FORECAST’
Part of the BBC commentary team, Andrew Cottergrew up tackling Ayrshire’s links and plays off 3. Follow him on Twitter @Mrandrewcotter
An hour with a player gives a real insight into their personality.