ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND — More than 200 people are hard at work behind the scenes for ESPN’s coverage of The Open, golf’s oldest major, at the famed St Andrews links course.
The Open is ESPN’s only full golf production of the year, so a team of personnel from many different areas of the company is assembled for the task by ESPN Vice President, Production, Mike McQuade.
Three members of the team:
Jon Punko, Features Manager
Punko has fond memories of St Andrews, where he spent his honeymoon in 2010, the last time the course hosted The Open. It was something he’ll never forget about an event he dearly loves.
As features manager, Punko is overseeing a team of six producers and four editors. Before the beginning of play on Thursday, his job involved prep work, including looking over features, teases and interviews, and assigning elements to his team. Once play began, his role shifted.
“We need more elements then, so basically I need to watch the golf,” he said. “I look for trends. Maybe the Road Hole bunker (the 17th hole at St Andrews) is killing everybody today, so I suggest ‘why don’t we do a music element on the Road Hole bunker?’
“A lot of other events you get a day or a couple of days before the next one,” he said. “But in golf it’s the next day. If the golf ends at 9 o’clock at night, and we have to prep for elements for 9 o’clock in the morning. That’s what makes it challenging and fun.”
His normal ESPN job is feature producer and currently he’s serving as manager of the SportsCenter Enhancement Unit (SCEU). He joined ESPN in 2000 and has worked on golf since 2002.