Palmer putted. "Jack, throw it to 16," Frank said. The ball rolled toward the cup. "Ready two, and open the fairway on 18. Take two." Then Nicklaus slashed from the woods. Palmer's ball neared the cup. "Take remote." It missed, narrowly. "Take three." Nicklaus' ball bounded into a bunker left of the green. "Take remote," Frank said. Palmer grimaced. "Bob, give me a closeup." Nicklaus emerged from the woods. "Take one," said the director. Nicklaus closeup. And, finally, Chirkinian sat down. It had been 30 seconds of sheer show-business torture, and an excellent moment in a good production.
When CBS did its first Masters in 1956 it used only six cameras, all of them trained exclusively on the greens, and Bud Palmer was the lone commentator, sitting on the 18th and describing the other holes from a monitor. Chirkinian encouraged making it a more sophisticated production his first year, which was 1959.
At that Masters, CBS increased the number of cameras to 12; moreover, Frank deployed them so that fairways and tees could be shown, and he upped the number of commentators to three. A year later several other notable changes were made. Chirkinian miked the tees and greens. The conduits were put underground to eliminate the cables strewn everywhere for Arnie's Army to trip over. And along with a producer named Jud Bailey, he invented the plus-minus scoring system that Clifford Roberts himself adopted for the big leader boards (with red for under par and green for over). In 1965 Chirkinian upped the camera quota to the present total of 15, added helicopter footage, hole diagrams, video reruns, stop-action, the TNT Eidophor, more commentators, and improved camera positions. Equally important, he by now had a dedicated, experienced crew working with him. And in 1966 had come color.
On Sunday CBS had the telecast scheduled for an hour and a half, but, unlike the old days, it was geared to stay on, hang the expense, until the Masters had a champion. Not too many years ago television would bid a fond farewell to the excitement when its allotted hour was up, and if Sam Snead happened to be bent over a winning putt at the time, that was tough luck. You could get the result on the late news.
"We're different now," MacPhail explained Sunday morning. "We're cleared to run over into prime time if the guys play slow today. And if there's a playoff Monday, we'll be on. In fact, if there is sudden death after the playoff, Frank thinks we could cover it remote." He wasn't sure how—perhaps with Whitaker on a golf cart with a Brownie, preempting Cronkite's news. Talk of sudden death gave MacPhail an unfriendly feeling in his stomach.
The program opened Sunday with the same dramatic countdown procedures of the day before. A couple of new spectators were in the truck, both of them wearing green jackets. They were crouched down near Chirkinian, presumably to see to it that CBS did not mess up the show.
"Do they know anything about television?" someone discreetly asked Jack Dolph.
"Maybe they taught Chris Schenkel everything he knows," Dolph said.
Things went along in an orderly manner for a spell, but then the Masters burst apart with the excitement that it always seems to provide on Sunday afternoon. Gay Brewer's lead was far from secure. Tommy Jacobs was hanging in there. Jack Nicklaus had a good chance if he made a move. So did Palmer.
Feeling this, Chirkinian's voice began to pick up some emotion and strain that it had not previously shown. The delicate ear might even have detected a bark in his tone.