the brawl

Broadcast at the Brawl

By: Patrick Koenig

One of the things that I have missed dearly over the past year and a half of the pandemic is live golf events. Sure, you can survive without the thrill of high five-ing a stranger when a Tour player rolls in a birdie putt, but the absence of such connection becomes obvious when it disappears. There is a certain bond and camaraderie that happens at these gatherings and it makes a difference in your quality of life. You feel like you a part of a larger and greater purpose.  In a sense, it gives our lives meaning. 

Fortunately, one of the most spiritual gatherings in all of golf happens to be right in my backyard and the event was back on the calendar for 2021. I am talking about the fourth annual Wishbone Brawl at Goat Hill Park. The Wishbone Brawl pits a pair of two-man teams against each other in a friendly match that is played at Goat Hill Park. All the money raised benefits the North County Junior Golf Academy and the Goat Hill Park Caddie & Leadership Academy. There are no gallery ropes and the fans amble down the fairways with the players, enjoying the intimacy and relaxed vibe. This year, Fred Couples and Will Kropp were set to take on Xander Schauffle and Dean Wilson. The star power was bright and Goat Hill Park was ready to shine.

My role for The Brawl would be slightly different in 2021. I wasn’t going to be handing out high fives or even behind the lens of my camera. I was going to be the eye in the sky for The Fire Pit Collective livesteam of the event.

I am not talking about uploading a video from an iPhone—this was a real broadcast. The Fire Pit Collective was going live with on-course interviews, mic’d up players, multiple camera and the non-stop aerial coverage of the entire Wishbone Brawl. The plan was to bring every shot, every story, and every step of the Wishbone Brawl right into your living room. 

Generating a live broadcast for a golf tournament is not a simple task and we had our work cut out for us. We brought in our friendly neighbors, KuenyPearson, to help with the task.  The crew ended up fashioning the world’s very first “Mobile Goatcast Delivery Unit,” or MGCDU for short. It was a golf cart packed with technical gear. While MGCDU has yet to be officially registered with the U.S. patent office, it was quite a feat of engineering.

Audio feeds, video signal strength, mobile durability, battery life and about a million other variables demanded constant attention. The hilly terrain presented numerous challenges.  Positioning of the MGCDU needed to be calculated specifically with broadcast and timing considerations.  Pre-produced video features would buy us a little time but routes had to be pre-planned and carefully considered.  After a successful test run on the evening of the Brawl, the live broadcast was given the official green light.

As the Wishbone Brawlers began to arrive, Goat Hill quickly filled with excitement and contagious energy. Comms were established and the crew readied for mobile broadcast deployment. I gave myself the call sign Viper and prepared to launch the aerial video mechanism. Before we had a chance to think twice, the Brawl was underway and the broadcast was up and running. We all wore ear pieces and the dialogue was hot and heavy:

“Sticking with Camera 1 on 2 green and cutting to commercial in 15.”

“Holding tight on Drone and moving to Camera 2 in 3,2,1…”

“We are getting a poor signal on 6 green from Camera 1, we need to scramble the MGCDU stat.”

“Kill Kropp graphic, rolling audio on Couples with Ginella on 4, standby for cut to drone.”

MGCDU Photography by Gabe L’Heureux

Since the drone video was the lone hardwired video feed into the MGCDU, I was the go-to if all else failed.  Which meant that I had to be ready to deliver stunning video footage at a moment’s notice for a solid 3.5 hours. I was essentially the Goodyear Blimp for the 2021 Wishbone Brawl. Fire Pit Collective standards demanded smooth and cinematic aerial footage. Good thing I had a cool call sign.

After Will Kropp canned a must-make 40-footer on the 17th hole to extend the match, Xander and Dean hung on for a 1-up victory. However, we all know that the real triumph came in the form of the $50,000 that was raised for the charities involved. The full live broadcast is up on the Goat Hill Park channel and an entire host of Wishbone features and stories are available over at The Fire Pit Collective. It was an awesome experience to be a part of the show. Viper signing off.

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