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Planning on watching Masters highlights on the BBC this year? Don’t get your hopes up.

The Telegraph is reporting that the corporation is planning to end its 56-year association with the first men’s major of the season as part of cost-cutting measures.

It is understood that the BBC’s existing deal with Augusta National Golf Club expired following last year’s tournament and, although it is possible that new terms could be agreed in time for April’s 87th staging of the tournament, sources have indicated to The Telegraph’s golf correspondent James Corrigan that this is unlikely.

The BBC first broadcast The Masters in 1967 and has shown every edition – in one form or another – since 1986.

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In 2011, Sky Sports won the right to broadcast live coverage of all four days of the tournament, with the BBC retaining the right to show live footage of the final two rounds.

This was cut to a highlights programme in 2020 when Sky Sports was given the exclusive live broadcasting rights in the UK.

This news, if true, is bound to come as a huge blow to the tens of thousands of avid golf fans in the UK.

Top level men’s professional golf has now all-but disappeared from terrestrial television.

As recently as 2005, the Beeb broadcast 28 days of live golf from The Open, The Masters, and multiple European Tour events.

One by one, all have migrated to Sky Sports.

A Government review of the UK Listed Events Regime, undertaken last April, hinted at worrying headwinds blowing towards British golf fans.

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Enforced by the Broadcasting Act of 1996, this ‘list’ is designed to ensure that high-profile sporting events that are viewed of being of “national importance” remain available on free-to-air TV channels or services.

These so-called ‘Crown Jewels’ are split into two groups. Events in Group A are to be retained for live free-to-air broadcasting. Those in Group B may be broadcast on pay-per-view TV but only so long as highlights or delayed coverage is available free-to-air.

Following last year’s review, there were no golf tournaments in Group A, with only The Open and Ryder Cup in Group B.

The 2023 Masters Tournament takes place at Augusta National from April 6-9.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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