Three Telecasts, Two Jobs, One Big Mess

The marginalization of David Feherty is in high gear at NBC Sports. Arguably the most popular and interesting character in golf television has gone from having no equal as an on course announcer to being THE equal of Jimmy Roberts.

NBC Golf gave Feherty the lion’s share of the announce team budget at the end of last year when his contract with CBS expired and then made him share time with Roger Maltbie in the last group during the first broadcast of the year. My review of that abject failure can be found in a February 8 post on this site (The Shotgun Marriage Between David Feherty And Johnny Miller Is Off To A Predictably Rocky Start). Maltbie wasn’t used to having company walking with the leaders and Johnny Miller wasn’t comfortable sharing the spotlight with someone who doesn’t take him as seriously as he takes himself. Swing and a miss. Strike one.

Then the governing bodies at NBC/Golf Channel split up the comedy duo of David & Rog the next time the team got together. Saturday at The Honda Classic the funny kid Feherty was assigned to the last pairing (leaders Fowler/Walker) while the straight man Maltbie was relegated to the penultimate pair (Scott/Garcia). Finally they figured it out and all seemed right with the world! That is until Rickie and Jimmy stunk up the joint. Thanks to unbecoming play they became a non entity and because producer Tommy Roy can’t figure out how to let his on course guys call shots that have been pre recorded, Feherty was a non factor. Roy could have made the call to have Feherty leave those two and follow a player who was more relevant but he didn’t. So for all we knew at home the most distinct voice in the business was silenced. On Sunday Roger was awarded the leaders while Feherty took the subservient spot with the second to last group. We got our fill of “that’s right John” from Maltbie but Miller and Feherty never spoke to each other on the air. Swing and a miss. Strike two.

In response to what must have been calls from Feherty’ agent and full panic mode at HQ, the intrepid NBC golf broadcast team (this time for some reason with Roberts in tow) headed to Trump Doral and The World Golf Championships Cadillac Championship. The best players in the world on one of the game’s best known venues. Should have been a great showcase for Feherty but did they shine a spotlight on him and let him wax rhapsodic while stalking Adam and Rory? Nope. They stuck him in a tower as a hole announcer, gave him two whole holes, and told him, us, and the entire world he was no more important to the broadcast than Jimmy Roberts. They took THE guy who’s show they coveted (FEHERTY) and put him in the same place on the organizational chart as A guy who’s show they cancelled (IN PLAY). Well done NBC. Strike three. You’re not only out but you’re miserably out of touch.

Feherty has carved out an amazing career and fashioned a sizeable fortune by NOT fitting in. He’s the quintessential “square peg”. In that regard he couldn’t have picked a more apt place to not fit in. NBC Golf is quite probably the roundest of round holes in sports television. It is the most insular, cliquish, territorial, unreceptive group imaginable. They are the handful of folks standing in a corner talking amongst themselves at their own boring party. And now somebody, without their input or consent, invited the funniest, most entertaining guy in the neighborhood.

The next step in this massive mismanagement of a great broadcaster’s career will be in Tampa next week. I, for one, won’t be surprised to see David Feherty out on the course holding one of those big, furry microphones.

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written two books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
This entry was posted in general observations, Golf, golf on tv, sports and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s