Let’s Extinguish “The Match”

“Thank you sir, may I have another

Chip Diller

There I was, fingers at the keyboard, a television a dozen feet away, 90 minutes from the fourth iteration of The Match.

I watched the first one, Tiger v Phil at Shadow Creek, on November 23, 2018. It was predictable, terrible, and predictably terrible.

I watched the second one, Tiger and Peyton Manning v Phil and Tom Brady, on May 24, 2020. It was fantastic. Peyton Manning showed off his entertainer chops. Charles Barkley showed us why he is one of the best in the business. Justin Thomas showed up as a guest on-course announcer and, surprisingly, contributed. Tom Brady played like a chop until the 6th hole when he holed a shot from the fairway, said “Suck on that Chuck”, and then ripped his pants picking the ball out of the hole. This version had humor, it had good golf, it had terrible golf, it had technological bells and whistles, it had superstars, and it had Tiger. It was one of the best made for TV spectacles I have ever seen.

I did not watch the third one, Phil and Charles Barkley v Peyton Manning and Steph Curry. Why would I watch that? Why would anyone?

Now we’re a little more than a hour from number four. This time Mickelson (the only participant in ALL of them) is back and teamed with Brady again. But they aren’t taking on Tiger. Instead they’ll play Bryson DeChambeau and Aaron Rodgers. Will I watch? I’m still not sure. I might because it’s at a venue of which I know nothing but have heard spectacular things about. I might because I have several friends and former colleagues involved in the production. I might because it’s Tuesday afternoon and I love watching live sporting events on television. I might because Charles Barkley is back as an announcer and general pain in the butt. But I might not because there’s no Tiger. I might not because I’m guessing the four guys playing are going to try too hard to entertain me. I might not because it’s a beautiful day where I live and I could go hit balls. I might not because the second one was so damn good and I know nothing they do today will compare.

Bottom line… I compromised. I watched until I couldn’t watch any more. That point almost came when somebody thought it was cute to have talking goats in the tease. It actually came on the fourth hole. By that point I had invested almost 2 hours of my time and had very little to show for it. I tuned out, did some errands, walked the dogs, and came back. Unfortunately things didn’t get much better. That’s not to say there weren’t some things I really liked…

1. The views were spectacular. Not the golf course (funky bounces, tricked up holes) but the scenery. It was breathtaking.

2. Charles Barkley. He’s a treasure and an absolute must in an exhibition like this. Not playing (like he did in the third version of The Match), broadcasting. If there were a dozen memorable moments from this Barkley was responsible for 10 of them.

3. Charity. The amount of money raised and meals donated was impressive and potentially the only reason to have another one of these things.

4. Cart cams. This technology is a godsend to this exercise and one of the few elements that “works” every single time. It was, once again, expertly used and should have won an EMMY when it was first employed during The Match II.

5. Brian Anderson. He just might be the best and most versatile play by play person in the business.

That about does it for the positives. As I mentioned there were several entertaining moments during the broadcast. Aaron Rodgers was clutch, Tom Brady hit what might have been the best shot in the entire telecast. Sir Charles was funny. So, let’s put that number of entertaining snippets generously at a dozen. Give each moment 30 seconds and you’ve got 6 minutes. The problem with that is the show was more than 5 and a half hours long. The negatives were plentiful so I’ll just give you a few.

Pace of play. Good Lord why does this exhibition have to take SOOOOOO LOOOONNNNGGGG?!? One of the drawbacks of playing it on this particular golf course was there was no mercy for errant shots and there were plenty of errant shots. Do we really need to watch anyone (let alone Bryson DeChambeau, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson) wander around the mountains looking for Titleists? That’s a rhetorical question by the way. Create a local rule… If you hit it out of sight, drop one and play on.

Anybody NOT named Brian Anderson or Charles Barkley. I know and like Trevor Immelman and I think the 2008 Masters Champion has a bright future in golf television. I have met and worked with Larry Fitzgerald on a few occasions. He is a wonderful guy, a Hall of Fame receiver, and a pretty darn good golfer. I don’t know, nor have I ever met, Cheyenne Woods. Having said that I can also say none of them were necessary on this telecast. With players mic’d up and clearly willing to engage and two of the best in the business in the booth why add voices?

Putting the best cameramen in the golf television business in a position to fail. The guys behind the lenses are indeed the best. They work for every major network covering world class golf on a weekly basis. Following a golf ball in the air from 300 yards away is a near impossible task for most humans and these guys can do it in their sleep. But not on a mountainside with blind tee shots and little to no preparation. Now I’m guessing they rehearsed, they always do in events like this but I’m sorry NOTHING could prepare them for having to follow shots hit by those for guys on that golf course. The broadcast made a “big deal” of the potential 500 yard drive but when push came to shove we couldn’t see any of the shots. Not the camera guys fault.

The “One Club Challenge”. Let’s have a blind draw to see which one club the four guys will have to use to play one particular hole. “It’ll be great!”, “sounds fun.” 30 minutes later I couldn’t have been the only one wishing they hadn’t done that. In fact I looked up “bad tv” in the dictionary and the definition was “a one club challenge on the side of a mountain in The Match.”

Phil’s “playing lessons”. Don’t get me wrong, the first one was fantastic. The eighth, ninth, and tenth? Not so much. And just because Phil Mickelson is good at it that doesn’t mean we should ask everyone else playing to do it.

But the biggest problem with “The Match” going forward is that it peaked with the second one. Tiger/Peyton v Phil/Brady was GREAT television. It was compelling, entertaining, interesting, different, and dramatic. It should have been the “drop the mic” moment for this franchise. Nothing going forward will ever be as good, the last two iterations proved that.

Nothing is going to make “The Match” worth 6 hours of someone’s time. Even if Tiger comes back and plays in one of them. That’s just too long of a commitment and the golf, the banter, the forced “guest interviews” and even the worthwhile charities, just aren’t compelling enough to clear that particular forced carry. Put “The Match” to bed. Kiss it goodnight.

Now, a very smart boss once told me, “don’t come around here with problems, bring solutions instead.” So here’s mine.

Bring me a modern day version of “Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf”. Two players, head to head. They can be Tour pros, they can be celebrities, they can be sports stars. They can be great players, good players, or decent players. It can be men against men, women against women, or women against men. Play a nine hole match on some of the world’s best courses. Give shots if the handicaps of amateurs is warranted. Have Phil Mickelson host it.

You’re Welcome.

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Doing My Civic Duty

Juries scare me. I don’t want to put my faith in 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.”

Monica Piper

We have lived in Colorado Springs since the fall of 2018. A few weeks ago I received a summons to appear for jury duty in the mail. Of course my first thought was, “how the heck can I get out of this?” Full disclosure… I am a 65 year old white male and I have NEVER fulfilled my civic duty by serving on a jury. Don’t get me wrong, the various jurisdictions in which I have resided throughout my past have requested my presence. I’ve just been able to avoid it or, quite frankly, just ignored it with complete success. But, for some reason, this time even though my first thought was avoidance at all cost an immediate second thought was, “why not?”

Since I left my career in broadcast sports television I’ve been writing books, most of them are mysteries. All of those involve cops and crimes and circumstances that may or may not involve courtrooms, judges, and yes, juries. So it was going to be research! It was also something that I honestly believe is my duty as an upstanding member of the community in which I now live. It’s also a fact that I don’t have a good reason any longer NOT to serve. I have the time. A quick glance at my calendar showed the only thing on the horizon was a colonoscopy and having to reschedule that procedure wouldn’t break my heart. So the bottom line is I logged on to the El Paso County website and, in so many words, informed them that I’d be honored to serve.

Crimes happen in Colorado Springs and El Paso County every day. Some of them are serious. Like any place in America with more than a million people folks get robbed and assaulted and murdered. Banks get robbed, cars get stolen, bad people do awful things. Sometimes good people get accused of doing awful things and they need good lawyers and a jury of their peers to seek the truth and free them if they are indeed innocent of the thing their being accused of committing. I, of course, had no way of knowing the circumstances of the case to which I’d be assigned and I didn’t care.

According to the summons I was juror number 2435. I was was scheduled to appear on a Thursday and instructed to call the court the prior Wednesday evening to receive my instructions, which I did. My number fell in the group that was required to show up at the courthouse no earlier than 8 AM and no later than 8:30 AM. I was given instructions with regard to a special entrance for prospective jurors, where to park, and what I was allowed to and not to bring. Thursday came and to downtown Colorado Springs I headed.

When I arrived there were 15 to 20 people in line ahead of me and four or five more showed up and fell in behind me. I noticed the folks ahead of me were a mix of young, older, male. female, white, and not. As we waited in the “jurors only” line other folks walked past and right into the building. For what purpose or to what fate I hadn’t a clue. There were attorneys, for sure, and I wondered which of them would be standing in front of me as I sat in the jury box. Would it be the middle aged guy with the shoulder length hair in the shark skin suit? Maybe the blonde in the colorful dress and magenta stilleto heels? Or even the young, prematurely balding, gentleman who dropped a handful of files while efforting to attach his mask before going inside. Would they ask me questions and, if yes, what would they be? Would they see me as a potential ally or a threat?

Clearly this is as good a time as any to repeat that I have never before served on a jury and my experience of the experience is restricted to books, movies, and television shows. Because of that I admit to probably harboring a romanticized version about what goes on.

There were other people who made their way into the courthouse building as I stood and waited in line. Law enforcement officers for certain. Defendants, maybe. Witnesses, could be. Family members and observers, no doubt. Some of the lawyers carried briefcases, others had both hands under boxes and still more pulled their work product behind them like luggage headed through airport screening. I watched and wondered what facts existed in those boxes and cases and what arguments, both for and against, were the byproduct of everything inside. I took a couple of steps closer to the entrance.

As I did I took another look at my fellow jurors and considered whether if it was me on the inside, awaiting trial, would I want this group of my peers deciding my fate? Then I realized it didn’t matter a lick. The man or woman, guilty or not, was going to get most of us whether he wanted to or not. I was getting more and more curious about what the next several hours would be like. The voice on the phone when I called on Wednesday informed me that I could bring a book or a tablet. My wife mentioned that I could be there a while doing a while lot of nothing so I brought along my current read. It’s a novel called, ironically, The Last Policeman, by a talented writer named Ben H. Winters. If you haven’t read anything he’s written I highly recommend a quick google you won’t be disappointed. I was also, honestly, getting more and more excited about the prospect of being on a jury. Would it be a high profile case? How long would the trial take? Who else would comprise the 11 other jurors? Would they elect me the foreman? Would we be sequestered? Hey, I told you I was romanticizing the entire process! Another person made his way inside in front of me. Two left before I too would be in the building.

And then, just like that, I was one body away. It was a young lady who was on her phone wrapping up a conversation with someone. “I hope I can get out of this,” I heard her say. Then another gentleman with an authoritative air and wraparound sunglasses approached and asked me for my summons. “Here we go,” I thought. He wrote down my juror number on a piece of paper. Then he pulled the paper off his clipboard and handed it to me.

“You’re excused,” he said and walked away.

So, right there in the bright, warm, Colorado morning sun, my dream of being just like Jimmy Stewart in 12 Angry Men died just six feet from the entrance to the courthouse. It looks like the scheduled colonoscopy is a go.

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They Are ALWAYS Worth Watching

“I’ll be watching you.”

STING

If you’re a golf fan you know that because of Covid-19 the USGA is playing the United States Women’s Open Championship this week. If you’re a golf fan on social media (specifically Twitter) you NOW know the US Women’s Open features athletes who are #worthwatching.

What a load of hooey.

Not because these amazingly talented professionals AREN’T #worthwatching it’s because these amazingly talented professionals have ALWAYS been #worthwatching. This nonsensical campaign shows you what happens when panderers and bureaucrats sit in bubble chamber boardrooms and think they’re clever.

“Hey! Little else is going on in the world of golf this week let’s tell people that women who play golf at the highest level are suddenly #worthwatching!”

“Great idea Biff!” “Bravo Chumley!”

Peeshaw! I mean what? These incredible players weren’t #worthwatching last week? Or last month? or last year? Or when Annika Sorenstam won her THIRD US Women’s Open in 2006? Or Karrie Webb won back to back in 2000 and 2001? Or Michelle Wie won her long awaited major in 2014? Of course they were. But the geniuses would have you believe that THIS is the week the greatest players in the game are #worthwatching

To underline the shortsightedness of the whole charade is that NBC doesn’t really think they’re all that #worthwatching. Twenty-five and a half hours broadcast across the NBCUniversal platforms (Peacock, Golf Channel, NBC). Sound like a lot? It should be after all these tremendous players are #worthwatching. But back in September the US Open was scheduled to be on for 37 1/2 hours. I guess those players were 12 and a half hours MORE #worthwatching.

If you read this and think the point I’m trying to make is that the best players in women’s golf ARE NOT #worthwatching I’ve either done a terrible job writing or you’ve done an awful job reading. OF COURSE I think they’re #worthwatching. The difference between me and them, however, is that I’ve ALWAYS thought it. I didn’t just decide they were #worthwatching this week.

I could give them the benefit of the doubt and say “at least they’re doing something” but that’s calculating too. There WERE two simpler solutions. The first would have been to disregard the idea of #worthwatching altogether. The second, and better in my opinion, would have been to make it this…

#ALWAYSWORTHWATCHING

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The Best Seat in the House

” Should I stay or should I go”

The Clash

 

I used to work in sports television. I was one of the guys who sat inside a converted tractor trailer in a maintenance area, parking lot, or the bowels of a stadium, staring at close to a hundred tiny television screens, yelling at people. I was part of, or led teams, that broadcast golf tournaments, car races, baseball/football/basketball games, motocross events, volleyball, field hockey, water polo, and soccer. I watched from there so you could watch from home.

 

I am also a fan, having attended many of those same events after having bought a ticket or been invited to attend. I’ve walked the fairways, sat in the bleachers, enjoyed corporate suites and the best seats in the house. I love sports. I loved producing and directing sports for television and I love watching sports. As those of us who are sports fans wait for MLB, the NBA, the NFL, the NHL and other professional and college sports to resume we wonder how it will all look and sound. We wait for the “okay” to attend in person and in the meantime watch our favorites on the telly. I’m waiting too and while I wait I thought I’d give you my perspective of the best way to watch.

 

YOU’RE BETTER FOR HAVING BEEN THERE

Several sports fit into this category. The most notable for me are (in no particular order):

Hockey

Baseball

College Football and Basketball

Olympic Sports

The best in arena v television experience for me is hockey. The game is so fast and the athletes are so impressive that you can’t get the same experience by watching on television as you can from a seat, any seat, in the building. The nuances, the line changes, the strategy, the speed, and the puck are all lost, or mostly lost on a TV screen. If you’re a sports fan and have never been… go to a hockey game.

I feel the same way about the in-person experience of a baseball game but for different reasons. The noise, the feel, the surroundings of a game in a big league stadium is an unrivaled sports experience for me. If you’ve read some of my musings you know I am an unapologetic baseball fan. It’s my favorite sport and, despite MLB’s best efforts to change my mind (universal DH), it always will be. Go to a game, sit in the stands, eat a hot dog and drink a beer. Watch the players in the field, but even better, in the dugout. The only drawback to going to a game in person is that it means you can’t listen to your favorite broadcasters. That would be Mike Krukow, Duane Kiper and Brian Anderson for me.

The in-building experience for major college sports is also leaps and bounds above watching those games on TV especially if it’s a game at a big time arena. Watching football and Notre Dame or Ohio State or Michigan or Alabama is goosebump inducing. Seeing a contest at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Allen fieldhouse or Pauley Pavilion will be a lasting memory. Sure there are too many TV timeouts but that just gives you more time to enjoy the antics of the students in attendance.

How many times have you watched, in person, elite athletes compete in a swimming, track or gymnastics meet? Watched water polo in person? Seen a weightlifting, fencing, boxing, or judo competition? If the answer is never you are missing out on some of the most interesting and compelling competition in sport. Every two years a lot of us are glued to our televisions when athletes, representing countries from all over the globe, compete in the Olympic Games. Those events give us dozens of memorable moments. Keep watching but if you get the chance to go to a National Championship, or an Olympic qualifier, in any of these sports don’t think twice. Go.

 

There’s No Place Like Home

By contrast watching some sports is just better from the comfort of your living room, man cave, or friends house. These, again in no particular order are:

Golf

The NFL

Auto Racing

I spent most of my career in sports television broadcasting in the golf space. I wrote a book about my life in TV called, Cover Me Boys, I’m Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat). I tell a bunch of behind-the scenes stories. Go buy it. Anyway, my point is I have been to hundreds, maybe thousands of golf tournaments in my life and I can say in no uncertain terms that the best place to watch a golf tournament is on TV. In person you can watch one hole or a few players at a time. TV can give you the entirety of the golf course, most, if not all, of the players in contention and a running leaderboard to let you know where the players stand to par and each other. You don’t get any of that on site. What you do get is exercise, fresh air, and the chance to see the backs and backs of heads of hundreds of golf fans just like you. If you’re going to a PGA TOUR event because you think your son or daughter is going to get a hat, ball, or pin flag signed by Tiger Woods, don’t. You’re not.

I would offer one caveat to this advice. If you have the chance to go to one of pro golf’s four major championships, DO IT. I know there’s even more people and less chance of seeing your favorite player up close and personal but being at a major is, or should be, a bucket list item for sports fans. Especially The Masters and I say that with no disrespect intended toward my friends at the U S Open, the British Open or the PGA Championship.

Auto racing is another sport, at least for me, that is best watched at home. The broadcasts are so good and so thorough that unless you like really loud noises, the smell of grease, ethanol and body odor just stay home and watch it all unfold. Again, there are exceptions. If you have access to pit road, get yourself to the track. And like the situation with golf if you get tickets or the chance to attend The Indy 500 or the Daytona 500 take advantage of that. Once.

The absolute, no doubt in my mind, worst sporting event to attend in person is an NFL game. I don’t care which team floats your boat the in game experience in any of the stadiums around the country is PAINFUL. So many stoppages of play, so little anything of interest between plays, and practically zero information about players, plays, and coaches is given to fans. It’s expensive, crowded and, at least for me, unfulfilling. Watch the game on TV, or better yet, get the NFL RedZone network and watch all the games on TV.

 

So that’s my primer, my advice. Take it with a grain of salt and go enjoy what you enjoy however you enjoy it. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention the NBA. That’s because I don’t watch it on tv or in person.

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The SKINS Game Finally Met Its Match

“There are no new ideas in television. Just better execution of old ideas.”

Don Ohlmeyer

 

The great producer Don Ohlmeyer created a made for television golf competition that took the world by storm and captured the imagination of sports fans, not just golf fans. It was called The SKINS Game and it made its debut on Thanksgiving weekend in 1983. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Gary Player played in that first match that saw each hole worth a predetermined amount of money. Gary Player ended up winning the most “skins” and $170,000.

 

Ohlmeyer’s creation was an instant success. During the next twenty plus years golf’s best players and biggest names participated. All the greats from Arnold to Zoeller with Nicklaus, Trevino, Stewart, Strange, Faldo, Daly, Norman, Couples, and more in the mix. Tiger played three times (and never won) while Freddie played in more (13) and won more money ($3,515,500) than anybody else. The players wore microphones, traded verbal jabs, holed shots (Trevino made one of golf’s most famous holes-in-one in 1987), missed putts, and had a ball. We had a ball right along with them.

 

I was fortunate enough to be a part of the production team for four of them (1990-1993). Curtis Strange won the first one I worked beating Nick Faldo in a playoff. The late, great Payne Stewart won the next three. I was also there for the LPGA Skins and the Senior Skins Games. I tell a number of stories about those days in my memoir, Cover Me Boys, I’m Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat). You can get a copy through http://www.keithhirshland.com

 

They played The Skins Game from 1983 until 2008. Like with most things that hang around past their sale by date people started losing interest in the early 2000’s. Tiger gave the franchise a shot in the arm for two of those late years (’04 & ’05) but when Fred Funk won in 2005, Stephen Ames was victorious in 2006 AND 2007, and K.J. Choi grabbed the most cash in 2008 the die was cast and SKINS was sunk. Despite spewing oil at the end like a Clint Bower NASCAR Ford The SKINS Game, that Ohlmeyer masterpiece, was the gold standard of all the “silly season” golf events. I say was because then May 24, 2020 and The Match II  happened.

 

There had been an original The Match in 2018 but it was a doze bowl. It was also original slated to be televised via pay-per-view. The premise was simple Tiger Woods would take on Phil Mickelson for the staggering sum of NINE MILLION DOLLARS at the mysterious Shadow Creek Golf Course in Las Vegas, Nevada. Must watch TV right? But inherently there were problems, the biggest being Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Tiger was almost 43,  had won a total of ONE tournament in five years, and was months away from his remarkable 2019 Masters victory. Phil was even longer in the tooth at 48 and also had posted one win in five seasons. Needless to say, at the time, both appeared miles past their prime. And it showed. The golf was sketchy, the banter almost non existent, and the feeling of golfers and golf fans almost universally was one of disappointment.

 

Then 2020 said “hold my beer”. Covid19 forced the cancellation of March Madness, the postponement of the Summer Olympic Games, and generally tossed a box of grenades into the bucket of all sports. So people were starving for something live to watch when May rolled around. Golf folks tried with a “skins game” featuring Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy playing against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff at rarely seen Seminole Golf Club. It was fine, a valiant attempt, raising more than three million dollars for charity but when the best thing you can say about a golf match was that it was “cool” to see PGA TOUR players carrying their own clubs how good could something like that actually be? We found out the very next Sunday.

 

The Match II was a rematch of sorts with Woods and Mickelson reentering the ring. Sure they were even older than before but this time, at least, Tiger had another green jacket and his fifteenth major championship. He also had a partner this time around. They both did. Two of the greatest NFL quarterbacks to ever play the game were part of the festivities. Tiger was teamed with two time Super Bowl Champion Peyton Manning while Mickelson would partner with six-time champ Tom Brady. The stakes were higher too. This time $10 Million was the starting point and challenges and donations would kick that number up from there (Eventually the broadcast raised an even $20 Million for Covid19 relief charities). Gone was the pay-per-view platform replaced by the family of Turner Broadcasting networks. Since it was on Turner we were also treated to Turner’s announcers; Brian Anderson, Charles Barkley, Trevor Immelmann, Amanda Balionis and a guest appearance from Justin Thomas. It was the number four player in the world’s maiden voyage with a microphone and he did a terrific job. Having the respect of the four participants as well as being Tiger’s good friend and a member at host club Medalist didn’t hurt. And THAT was it. Five announcers. And it was more than enough. In fact it probably would have been too much, just like every other try at this, if it wasn’t for the efforts of the guys in the truck.

 

Technically this broadcast was a marvel. Too bad inclement weather (a full on downpour to start the match and another squall on the back nine) robbed them, and us, of a technically perfect show but what we got was still damn good. The producer was Jeff Neubarth and the director was Steve Beim. Full disclosure Steve is one of my best friends and we’ve been that as well as colleagues for thirty years. He’s great at what he does, I’d say the best in the business, and it doesn’t hurt that he learned his trade at Don Ohlmeyer’s side . Steve was a part of, if not the director for, dozens of those amazing early SKINS Games. He knows the value of technology  but more important he understands the value of getting out of the way and letting his announcers know they should do the same. That’s what happened Sunday.

 

Neubarth also produced the first Match and he would be the first to tell you there were a million things he would have done differently. It looked like he did them all this time around. It helps that he wasn’t burdened with way too many announcers, all trying to prove there was a reason for them to be there. He was luckier this go round with Brian Anderson as the traffic cop, Trevor Immelmann as the analyst and Charles Barkley as Charles Barkley. Neubarth and Beim handled them all beautifully but my guess is, with the possible exception of Sir Charles, there wasn’t much handling that had to be done. Anderson is the consummate play-by-play guy and Immelmann (who is just in the infancy of his broadcast career) is a quick study.

 

The players wore microphones (also a staple of these hit and giggle events) but this time Beim added a twist by also having them wear earpieces. That meant they could not only talk they could listen to who might be talking to them. More often than not that was Barkley who was tremendous. You could argue that Charles (or Chuck as all the world class athletes called him) ignited a fire under Tom Brady. The new Tampa Bay Buccaneer quarterback was having a miserable time for the first six holes. He barely hit a good shot let alone a fairway or a green. Then Barkley started giving him shit, in his ear, on live tv. Offering up at one point $50,000 of his own money if Brady could hit a par three green in regulation. When Tom didn’t Charles said he should have offered him the money to “keep the ball on the planet.” The smack talk didn’t stop into the next fairway. After Brady hit his tee shot into the hazard on number 7 Barkley told Tom, he wanted a piece of him on the golf course. Suddenly a guy who couldn’t find the clubface became the guy who had won six Super Bowls. Brady stood over his fourth in the fairway, swung, made great contact and sent the ball flying toward the green. It landed just past the hole, spun back and went in for a four. Beim cut back to Brady who said simply, “suck on that Chuck.” It was the moment of The Match II and I fear if it had been any other announce team or production team we never would have heard Brady say what he said.

 

It was an entertaining watch, from beginning to end. The guest appearances were short, sweet, and meaningful including Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. He was invited on the show because he is a “Wheels Up (one of the sponsors) spokesperson” but while he was there he pledged to donate a hundred thousand meals every time a player hit his tee shot on the par three they were about to play within 8 feet. Brady did, Phil did, Manning did, Tiger did not. 300,000 meals for needy families thanks to the broadcast and Russell Wilson. The best technology addition besides the earpieces was the “Cart Cam Technology” another Beim idea. Cameras were mounted on each player’s golf cart so we could see and hear them as they sped down the fairway to their tee shots or traversed the space from green to tee. It turned out to be some of the show’s best audio.

 

Now the bad news… and there is only this when it comes to the bad news. Sunday’s fantastic broadcast has spawned an endless string of “Who Should Play Next” suggestions on social media. The answer is simple. NOBODY. At least for a year. That was the beauty of The SKINS Game, the vision of Ohlmeyer. Every year lets take the four best, or most interesting, or most accomplished, players and get them together. So lets give the masterpiece that was The Match II some time to hang in golf television’s Louvre. Let’s continue to appreciate it for what it was and not get out our paint by number sets and try to recreate the “next” one. We don’t need the next one yet.

 

 

 

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Happy Anniversary Golf Channel

“I ain’t here for a long time. I’m here for a good time”

George Straight

Twenty-five years ago today, January 17,1995, Joseph E. Gibbs and Arnold Palmer flipped a big ‘ol golf ball switch and the Golf Channel became a real life, bona fide, television network. I was there.

image

I was hired in October of 1994 to be the first, and at the time, only producer for the channel’s live domestic tournament coverage. I’ve written about it a bunch; in fact I wrote a whole darn book about my life in television and a lot of it was stories about my time at The Golf Channel. Go buy it and read it. You’ll like it.

bookcover

People, so called experts, said a 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 days a year, TV network devoted to golf would NEVER work. Never. Ever. My bosses at ESPN in October of 1994 said it too. Clearly they were wrong. There are a bunch of folks in Orlando, Florida celebrating today, and rightfully so, but by most accounts only FIVE of them have been employed by the all golf network since that amazing day in 1995. FIVE. I was there 18 of the 25 years, including day one of year one and spent the last couple days racking my brain trying to remember the names of the brave, talented, slightly to mostly crazy, wonderful, folks who were there with me.

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My list doesn’t include the freelance folks our live tournament team hired to put the PGA TOUR, The Nike TOUR and the LPGA on the air. Karel Schliksbier, Emmett Loughran, Chuck Whitfield, and Daisy Phipps hold a special place in my heart. So do Donna Caponi, Denny Schreiner, Jim Nelford, Gary Smith and Kay Cockerill.

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The names of the full-timers come from a 64 year old’s memory. I know I forgot a bunch of folks and probably added one or two who weren’t actually there on 1/17/95 but the point is this… These are the people who deserve to be celebrated today. These are the people, in no particular order, who took a chance, believed in a dream, worked their tails off to make it a reality, and should sit back today – 25 years later- and smile.

Joe Gibbs, Bob Greenway, Gary Stevenson, Mike Whelan, Del Wood, Chris Murvin, Matt Scalici, Peter Gordon, Jeff Gershengorn, Jeff Hymes, Mark Friedman, Chris Lincoln, Sue Heard, Brian Hammons, Kraig Kann, Lynda Cardwell, Duane Ballen, Tom Nettles, Paul Farnsworth, Lori Dawson, Mark Oldham, David Graham, Lee Siegel, Ken Garren, Peter Kesler, Kirsten Sheen, Lara Ibarra, Chris Sullivan, Philip Hurst, Leslie Williams, David Manougian, David Kamens, Ben Lord, Gene Pizzolato, Tim McClelland, Dana Parker, Josh Schwartz, Lee “Nate” Rosenblatt, Marty Jenkins, Tomi McElroy, Chris Flynn, Dave Desmond, Mason Seay, Brett Bowman, Mike Ritz, Bob Van Dorn, Scott Van Pelt, Pam Cooke, Mark Lye, Jennifer Mills, George White, Bill “Action” Jackson, Chris DeCelle, Daryl Woody, Joy Hennenberger, Kevin Plate, Robby Roberts, Eric Saperstein, Bob “Swanny” Swanson, Drake Schunk, John Gibbs, Emilio San Martin, Rusty Billingsly, Jay Kossoff, Chris Olivere, Carol Dotson, Kenny Taht, Dawn Hiatt, Pat Devlin, Dana Parker, Steve Johnson.

I’m sorry to those who I forgot. It wasn’t intentional.

Congratulations Golf Channel on Twenty-five amazing years. Here’s to the next 25.

With respect,

Keith

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Another Baseball Season in the Books

“Love is the most important thing in the world. But baseball is pretty good too.”

Yogi Berra

 

The 2019 Major League Baseball season is over for me. It “officially” ended on the evening of October 9th when the Washington Nationals eliminated the Los Angeles Dodgers in game 5 of the National League Division Series. The season didn’t end in the 10th inning of that game because I’m a Dodgers fan. It ended, thanks to Howie Kendrick’s grand slam, because I’m a San Francisco Giants fan.

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It was ingrained in me as a young man that we Giants fans have two jobs. Number one is cheer for the orange and black. Number two, or more accurately number 1A, is root as hard as you can against the Dodgers. My wife has scolded me on numerous occasions that that attitude is an undersirable one. “You should never root against any one, or any team”, she says. Bless her heart. Any self respecting SF Giants fan knows that the Bums that travelled west from Brooklyn are more than deserving of our hopes for their failure.

 

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It hasn’t been all that easy. I was born in 1955 and became a lifelong Giants fan on May 28, 1957. That was the day that MLB owners approved the move for both The New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers. But there were conditions. Both teams had to move or neither team could. The Giants committed first, hosting a farewell party at a game on September 29. The Dodgers followed suit nine days later. The rivalry came west with the teams. We had just moved to Reno and San Francisco was the closest city with an MLB team.

 

Before the move (their’s and ours) The Giants had won 4 World Championships and the Dodgers owned one. That changed when the Brooklyn Bums became the LA Bums. They won the World Series in 1959, 1963, 1965, 1981, and 1988. And we suffered through them all. Then a strange thing happened, LA stopped winning. Don’t get me wrong, they won plenty of games, division titles, and National League pennants but the World Series well ran dry after Kirk Gibson dipped into it for his “I can’t believe what I just saw” home run at Dodger Stadium. It wasn’t all good news for us Giants fans either. Between 1988 and 2002 we reached the World Series twice as many times as the Dodgers (2-0) but lost both. One in spectacular fashion as the Oakland A’s swept the Giants four games to none in 1989 in a series that included an earthquake. The other was in heartbreaking fashion as our boys, with the greatest home run hitter of all time Barry Bonds, lost both game 6 and game 7 in Anaheim to the “rally monkey” Angels. Then 2010 happened.

 

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That year, then two years later, and two more years after that Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Brandon Crawford and dozens more became heroes. Legends even as improbably our san Francisco Giants won three world championships in 5 years! And the official World Series trophy tally became NY/SF 7 and Brooklyn/LA 6. So there! As I’ve already stated the Dodgers are good at winning games and division titles. In fact they’ve won seven of those in a row compiling a won loss record of 671- 464. But to me, and no doubt to them, the only numbers in recent history that matter are 3-0 (as in RINGS BABY! And while the faces of San Francisco Giants success have been thoise of Timmy, and MadBum, and Buster, and others the lone face of Los Angeles’s delicious defeats has been Clayton Kershaw. He’s one of the game’s best regular season pitchers, a multiple Cy Young Award winner and the ace of their staff. But he just can’t get it done when it matters and he came through (as far as we were concerned) again Wednesday night.

 

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The night the 2019 baseball season ended for him and me.

 

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The Solheim Cup and Me; A Love Story

” There are only 3 rules in sports television. Get on the air clean, get off the air clean, and get all your commercials in.”

Don Ohlmeyer

 

It’s time for the Solheim Cup. Those biennial golf matches that pit the best women golfers the United States of America has to offer against their counterparts for Great Britain and Ireland. It’s a thrilling, fun, competitive weekend of golf that means different things to different people. I’ve enjoyed it for as long as I can remember but 16 years ago it held a far different meaning for me.

 

My personal Solheim Cup story in some ways began with the tragic events of September 11, 2001. That day changed the world in a major way and in a much less significant, and much more meaningless way it changed golf’s “team cup” formula. At the time the Ryder Cup was played on an every other odd year rotation and the 2001 version was set for September 28th in 2001. The horrific events on the 11th made that impossible. The PGA TOUR and the R&A decided to postpone the 34th playing of the Ryder Cup until the following September switching the event from odd to even years. That meant the Solheim Cup would have to change too. But instead of calling off the competition for what would be three years the LPGA and its European counterpart decided to play in 2002 as scheduled but then change to the current odd years format in 2003. Meaning there would be back-to-back Solheim Cup matches.

 

Something else happened in 2002; David Manougian became president of The Golf Channel. That mattered in any number of ways but one of them was the way the Solheim Cup was televised. Manougian had been with the channel since the beginning as one of its best, most enterprising, and creative sales people. Early on he brought PING in as one of the channel’s “charter sponsors” and made sure he cultivated that relationship. During the end of 2002 and the beginning of 2003 that cultivation bore fruit in the form of the Solheim Cup. The matches had been broadcast by NBC but nobody was particularly happy with the arrangement. NBC relegated the women’s version of the Ryder Cup to minimal hours, all on tape delay. Manougian knew that wasn’t good enough for the Solheim family OR golf fans so he went to the Solheim’s, on behalf of the world’s first and only 24 hour television network devoted to golf, with compliments, kindness, a large bucketful of television hours, and a promise. If the Solheim Cup came to The Golf Channel the network would televise it live, from beginning to end, no matter where in the world the competition took place. In fact, the March 2003 press release promised 27 hours of LIVE golf coverage from the Bareseback Golf and Country Club in Sweden as well as prime time rebroadcasts the same day. Clearly it was an offer they couldn’t refuse, and they didn’t. And I’ll give you one guess as to who’s job it would be to put the production on the air.

 

So we put together a small, talented production team and headed to Sweden. 2003 was the first of three Solheim Cups that I produced for The Golf Channel and each produced memories, both good and bad, that I will never forget. To keep this under a million words I’ll mention one from each…

 

2003

The American team that year consisted of Juli Inkster, Rosie Jones, Beth Daniel, Michelle Redman, Laura Diaz, Cristie Kerr, Meg Mallon, Angela Stanford, Kelly Robbins, Wendy Ward, Heather Bowie, and Kelli Kuehne. Those 12 talented players were captained by Patty Sheehan. The Hall of Fame player who had, the year before, led the American squad to a 15 1/2 to 12 1/2 victory at the Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minnesota. This time, as I mentioned, Sheehan would be captain in Sweden, home to European team members Annika Sorenstam, Sophie Gustafson, Carin Koch, and their team captain Catrin Nilsmark. It would be the first time the matches, on foreign soil, would be played outside Europe.

 

The Euros got off to a hot start on Friday morning winning three matches and halving the fourth for a commanding 3 1/2 to 1/2 lead. The U S teams played better in the afternoon winning 3 of 4 which meant the Europeans led the matches by 1 point heading into Saturday. The Americans once again faltered in the morning as Europe won 2 matches and halved the other two. So when both teams won 2 matches in the afternoon it meant Europe led 9 1/2 to 6 1/2 heading into Sunday singles.

Janice Moodie started the day off right for team Europe on Sunday beating Kelli Kuehne but Juli Inkster got that point right back crushing Koch. That ended up really being the last bit of good news for captain Sheehan. Sophie Gustafson and Iben Tinning won the next two and even though Redman beat Ana Belen Sanchez when Annika Sorenstam took care of Angela Stanford in match number 7 the Europeans were just one point away from winning the Solheim Cup.

The production was going well as we switched from shot to shot, match to match, bringing all the important moments into living rooms all over the U.S.. We knew we were close to the end and moments after Sorenstam won her match, Catriona Matthew (Europe’s captain this year) won the 17th hole of her match against Rosie Jones to cap a 3 and 1 victory and clinch the cup. When Sorenstam won the Swedish crowd, understandably, went nuts and the roars were heard all over the golf course. Those roars got even louder when Matthew clinched it. It was over. We knew it was over. Everybody on the golf course knew it was over. And that was when the shit hit the fan.

There were still five matches, five meaningless matches, left on the golf course and as I gazed at the monitors in our makeshift production “trailer” it was clear none of the 10 players in those five matches knew what to do. Fans and players were streaming out onto the course to congratulate and console competitors and teammates. Hugs were given, tears or joy and sadness were wiped away and shoulders were shrugged. Our microphones caught Meg Mallon and Laura Diaz wondering aloud whether they were supposed to continue playing or simply walk in. I dispatched our intrepid on course announcer Kay Cockerill to an official to find out the answer. All while the celebration raged on. It might have been the most confusing moments of television of which I had ever been a part. All the while the words of the great Don Ohlmeyer rang in my ears, I knew I had to get all my commercials in (something that would haunt me 2 years later). In the end some played on, others didn’t. In one of the days most anticipated and best singles matches Meg Mallon and Laura Davies were All Square through 17 holes. Because the cup had already been decided Mallon, in a wonderful gesture of sportsmanship, conceded the final hole to Davies giving her a 1 up win and her 16th point in her 13 year Solheim Cup career.

 

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2005

Back on United States soil at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana. Catrin Nilsmark was back to captain the Europeans and the great Nancy Lopez was charged with leading the American squad. Lopez had played in the very first Solheim Cup in 1990 but, despite a Hall of Fame career and 48 wins, she hadn’t played in another one. This would be her first and only stint as captain and she chose our dear friend, and Golf Channel analyst since day one, Donna Caponi as her assistant. New to the team in 2005 were Christina Kim, Natalie Gulbis and Paula Creamer. Back on the team was Pat Hurst who played for the American side in 1998, 2000, and 2002. They were all looking to help Team USA win back the cup.

It didn’t start well as once again the Europeans came out on top in the Friday morning matches winning 3 of the 4 available points. The teams split 2 and 2 in the afternoon. But on Saturday morning the USA won 3 of 4 points to tie the overall competition at 6 apiece. Another split in the afternoon meant we headed into Sunday singles all tied up at 8. It had been 2 great days of television and we knew we had a barn burner to come.

On Sunday The U.S. came out like a house on fire winning the first 5 matches. Things were proceeding fast and furiously in the truck as points were won and matches conceded. Of the 5, Laura Diaz, Paula Creamer and Christina Kim won in blowouts while Inkster and Hurst won their matches 2 and 1. That put the USA within 1 and a half points of reclaiming the cup and we started covering matches with that in mind. Sorenstam beat Beth Daniel but then Natalie Gulbis took care of Maria Hjorth and suddenly the USA was a half a point from victory.

One look at the scoreboard told us that half a point was likely to come from Meg Mallon’s match against the 2004 Women’s British Open Champion Karen Stupples so that is where we concentrated. It was the penultimate match and it went back and forth. Everybody in the truck was caught up in the excitement, including yours truly, so when Mallon clinched it by winning the 17th hole we stayed with the celebration for a while before going to break. During that commercial the associate director, the person responsible, besides me, for keeping track of how many commercials for which I was responsible informed me how many I had left. It didn’t take long for me to realize that, with only one match left on the golf course, I had one more commercial on my docket than I had segments with which to pay.

For the first, and only time in my career, despite getting on the air clean and off the air clean, I hadn’t managed to “get all my commercials in”. It’s a failure that nags at me still.

 

2007

Back to Sweden we went and this time it was cold, wet, rainy, and miserable. At one point it was so windy that we had to move our announcers (Brian Hammons and Dottie Pepper) out of their broadcast position and into a trailer that we turned into a makeshift announce booth.

This was my most memorable Solheim Cup by a mile because of three words.

“Chokin freakin dogs”.

The whole story is relayed in detail in my memoir, Cover Me Boys, I’m Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat). It’s all there in print, starting on page 449, in a chapter titled “Dottie gets bit by a freakin dog”. Get it. Read it. Along with a bunch of other stories about Golf Channel’s earliest days. It’s still a painful enough memory for me to not want to tell it again here. I’ll only say that I said something in Dottie’s ear, she repeated it a little differently out loud, a full EIGHT seconds after we were supposed to be in commercial. She paid for my indiscretion, never saying a word or throwing me under the bus, for years.

 

So I look forward to watching my friends Jerry Foltz, Kay Cockerill, Karen Stupples and Grant Boone on television working another Solheim Cup on Golf Channel. I’ll watch it knowing another friend, Beth Hutter Murvin (the first and, to this day, only female producing live golf) will be capably handling things from the truck. I’ll do it knowing the history behind the matches, how the channel came to be involved, and remembering with a tip of my cap all the great players and television people who have made it such a wonderful event.

 

Thanks for reading this. You can pick up my book, Cover Me Boys, I’m Going In at Amazon or at http://www.barnesandnoble.com it’s published through Beacon Publishing Group, @Beaconpubgroup on twitter. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m One Lucky Guy

“Sometimes the best way to appreciate things is to be without them for a while.”

Anonymous.

 

 

I went to a golf tournament last week. No big deal. I’ve attended hundreds, heck maybe thousands, of golf tournaments in my life. Majors, PGA TOUR events, LPGA Tour events, the “minor” leagues, Solheim Cups, Ryder Cups, Ganter Cups, UBS Warburg Cups, United States Amateurs and NCAA championships. But this was a big deal, not because it was the 101st PGA Championship but because it reminded me how truly lucky I have been in my professional life.

 

I was dragged out of retirement by one of my best friends, and one of the best sports announcers on the planet, Brian Anderson. I worked with Brian from 2003 until 2007 at The Golf Channel until he took a job with the Milwaukee Brewers and became the superstar we all knew he would become. Because of the schedule change that saw the PGA move to May, Ernie Johnson (who normally serves as the play-by-play guy for TNT) was still working the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. So BA got the call and, in turn, he called me.

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He was in need of a research/stats person. A job that had a different name two decades ago, in less politically correct days. I, of course, said yes. At Bethpage State Park I saw dozens of folks with whom I’d worked and who I became aquainted thanks to my decades of working in golf television. There was Frank, Sir Nick, Mags, Ewan, Rex, John, Dottie, BK, Lance, Billy K, Lewis, Randy, Swanny, Tracey, Grant, Schwartzy, Colt, Michael, Joe, Ned, Darryl, Clark, Will, Mallory, Mario, Kathy, Casey, Jeremy, Bob, Mark, Charlie, Dennis, Carl, along with so many more. And there were probably a hundred who I knew but wasn’t fortunate enough to run into this time. We hugged, caught up, said we missed each other, had a few laughs, and went our merry ways. I was struck by the fact that, despite the years we’d been apart, we were still family. I was also reminded of the old saying, “the older I get, the better I used to be.” Seriously I appreciated all the kind words hurled my way.

 

I also made a few new friends. Trevor, David, Craig, Matt, J.B., Luke, Marcus, Kristin, Heather, Cody, Chris, D.B., and more. My old friends know I am terrible at “keeping in touch”, these new ones will learn that soon enough and I’m hopeful they won’t think less of me. Believe me this laundry list of names and paragraphs of reminiscing has a point. And that point is be grateful, appreciate things while you have them, look at each day as a gift.

 

I recently connected with another old friend, a man for whom I have great affection and appreciation. He was a creative genius and used that talent to build the behemoth golf fans now know as Golf Channel. When I was 39 years and 10 months old, at the very beginning of that enterprise, he hired me and, in doing so, gave me the life for which I am so incredibly grateful today. Then in the early 2000’s, for reasons too complicated and lengthy to explain here, we took different paths. Me, being the famous non-communicator that I am, didn’t stay in touch. Never reached out. Never asked anyone, let alone him, how he was doing and what he was up to. It turns out he got sick. Really sick. Cancer sick. And I had no idea. But I do now. And while nothing can change what’s happened in the past we all can use that personal history to make tomorrow better. My friend is on the mend and we are checking in on one another more regularly these days. Believe me, I know I will slip and go months without so much as a “hey, how’s it going?”. But it won’t be years. Never again.

 

So thank you Brian Anderson. Thank you for thinking enough of me to entrust me with your “ear” again. This time for more than 20 hours of major championship television last week. And thank you for allowing me the opportunity to see all those old pals and, just as important, make some new ones. But most of all thank you for being my friend.

 

 

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A Most Memorable Win Brings Back Memories

Unforgettable in every way”

Irving Gordon

 

There are people out there, as I sit and write this, popping off (with little to no justification) that they “put The Golf Channel on the map”. I know better, I was there. And what I know is there are three folks responsible for what would become the most successful niche sports network in history.

 

Joseph E. Gibbs, whose idea the channel was.

Arnold Palmer, who gave it the concept gravitas and then strong-armed the PGA TOUR into believing in it.

And Tiger Woods.

That in no way means there weren’t talented people all over the building. Michael Whelan was a genius and made sure the network looked and “felt” top notch when the lights went on.

Matt Scalici litterally got us on the air making sure everything in the place, from an engineering standpoint, functioned perfectly.

 Now I also know The Golf Channel launched in January of 1995 and at the time Tiger still had two United States Amateur Championships to win. But that time, between when Joe and Arnold flipped the switch and Tiger turned pro, gave us, all of us at the channel, time to grow, to make mistakes, to find our way, and to establish a rhythm. Sure, it’s a billion dollar business, with millions of viewers, now but in 1995 it was anything but.

We had no idea who was watching, how many of them there were, or even how they were able to see us. And there were times when Mr. Gibbs honestly worried about how he was going to pay all of us. I wish I had a dime for every time I heard someone say, “you mean there’s a golf channel?” or “there’s really a tv station that only shows golf?” And believe it or not those questions, and more like them, were asked AT GOLF TOURNAMENTS! My answer was, “Yes there was” and there still is.

Yesterday I watched Tiger Woods win the Masters for the fifth time. It was his first Masters victory since 2005. I was happy for him and I was thrilled for the great game of golf. It also brought back amazing memories. In 1995, when The Golf Channel debuted, Tiger had not yet had his “hello world” moment but he was more than worth talking about. And that’s what The Golf Channel did. On the news shows, the instruction shows, and around the hallways and water coolers in our headquarters. And while they were all talking Tiger back in Orlando our team was out showing live golf all over the country.

Believe me I know that at some point in time there would have been some sort of golf television network. But not in 1995. Not without live golf tournaments to show and, again, not without Tiger Woods. Joe Gibbs, Robert Greenway, Gary Stevenson, Peter Gordon, and the rest of the executive team knew that too so they secured the U.S. broadcast rights to the European Tour and the LPGA. Then Joe, with Mr. Palmer, went to Ponte Vedra and convinced the powers that be there to let this brand new golf channel, with tens of dozens of viewers, broadcast what was then the Nike Tour. Then they convinced them to throw in the half a dozen PGA TOUR events that no other television network wanted. They were painfully aware that if the channel had any chance to succeed it had to spend most of the broadcast day showing live people hitting golf shots that mattered. Without that (see Back 9 Network) their Golf Channel or ANY golf channel had zero chance.

Through the years and through the magic of television we introduced golf fans to Stewart Cink and David Toms and Chad Campbell and Jimmy Walker and Pat Perez and Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson and Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day and oh so many more. And back in 1996 we met Tiger Woods.

He turned pro after winning his sixth straight USGA title and played in nine PGA TOUR events. Four of them were tournaments that were only televised on The Golf Channel. All four days. He played in Moline, IL and Endicott, NY and San Antonio, TX and Orlando, FL. During those events our team interviewed him more than a dozen times. Each time he was polite, friendly, punctual, and generous with his time. After rounds he came right out of the scorers tent and right to Donna Caponi or Gary Smith or Mark Lye and talked about his round. Before events began his people told our people where and when he would be available and he was there, where and when they said he would be. And he sat with us for as long as we needed him.

By contrast I had also once been part of a golf broadcast team tasked with interviewing Jack Nicklaus on several occasions. During one of those we waited 81/2 hours for him to show up. He and his team told us he’d do the interview at 8 AM and Nicklaus finally showed up at the appointed spot at 4:30 in the afternoon. Sadly, when it came to Jack back then that wasn’t unusual. But I digress.

In 1996 Tiger should have won in Illinois, on our air. He could have won in upstate New York a week later, on our air. And he finally DID win in Orlando, a month later, on our air. I hope I never forget the image of Tiger, Donna and Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the trophy presentation. Tiger was a great player. We knew, heck almost everybody knew, that. But few among us could have predicted the level of greatness he would, and will continue to, achieve. The Masters victories in 1997, and this one 22 years later, helped paint a clearer picture of that for everyone.

Fast forward those 22 years and Golf Channel is now a behemoth. Nobody questions its existence though some are still unclear about the network’s humble beginnings. And Tiger Woods is once again the toast of the town. So many memories that involve so many people are etched in my mind and the best part about April 14, 2019 is that I now know there are so many more to come.

 

Thanks for reading. I wrote a book about my life in television and my time at The Golf Channel. It’s titled, Cover Me Boys, I’m Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat). Because of the great folks at Beacon Publishing Group it’s available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com and a number of other outlets. Grab a copy and enjoy the stories!

 

 

 

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