CTV on the Desert Swing

With European golf courses soggy at best in January, the European Tour sensibly decamps to the Middle East for the start of the golfing year. CTV goes with it, providing OB services to the ‘Desert Swing’ that takes in three countries – Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai – in three weeks.

Once upon a time, CTV covered the Desert Swing with flypack kit, airfreighting 20 tonnes of freight including separate set-ups for each tournament. For the past three years though it’s sent out a truck, which departs the UK in November for the Race to Dubai tournament, and is then mothballed over the Christmas period at CTV’s partner in Abu Dhabi, Live TV, before being picked up and fired up again when the crews fly out in January for the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

“We have 18 cameras, four RFs, an X-Mo…it’s a full on event,” says Hamish Greig, Technical Director at CTV. “We also have four different FCP systems on the go, so there’s no cut back on facilities just because we’re in the Middle East.

“We bring some portable air cons with us and we’ve also got portable fans, as the problem with UK air con is it hits the Middle East and it needs help. But we can also put awnings over the trucks if required too.”

CTV’s close partnership with Live TV is crucial in negotiating some of the hurdles of Middle East production, with border crossings always foremost in everyone’s mind. “You really need to have an effective local partner for that otherwise the customs side of things can be very tricky,” says Greig. “When we pack we have to make sure that each case we pack is done the same way. The customs people will open it up, take photos of the contents, and when you come back through again they’ll check the photos, the weights, and make sure that you’re coming back with what you went out with.

RF can be a problem too, with Greig reckoning that you really need to work with a local company to get round the multiple issues that can be thrown up. Then there’s the importance of getting the invitation letters from the organisations involved just right, detailing the trucks, contents, visa numbers etc.

“It’s taken us ten years to finally get it right. Every time we thought we were there we came across something else,” he says. “But if you didn’t do all the pre-work, you’d never make the schedule.”

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