Who are the best and worst golf announcers in 2018?
Each week we ask our panel of writers, PGA members and golf industry experts to weigh in with their views on the hot topics of the day.
Tiger Woods got into another Rules issue at the Hero World Challenge on Friday when he double-hit his ball. It wasn’t clear from normal viewing on TV and Tiger says he didn’t think he hit it twice but a hi def slow motion replay showed he did. Because the current Rule states that an infraction can’t be called when it can only be detected by slo-mo video, Woods got off without penalty. Is this another instance of Tiger gaming the Rules to his advantage? After all, any player of his calibre would surely know if he double-hit a shot. (Note: the double hit rule will change in January but until then it’s still a penalty).
Jim Deeks, Fairways Magazine (@jimdeeks): I didn’t watch the event, so I’m only going by your description of it. But it doesn’t sound like Tiger was “gaming the rules to his advantage”. There’s no question that Tiger has managed to weasel through a few transgressions on the course during his career (not to mention off the course), but in this case, if he says he didn’t, and only slo-mo could prove it, and the rules say slo-mo can’t apply, then, well, okay… carry on, Tiger. And I’m glad the double-hit will be deleted as a penalty. That should lower my handicap by a shot or two next year!
Craig Loughry, Golf Ontario (@craigloughry): I wish our Editor would come around on this TW guy and stop picking on him. Just embrace him already! TW wasn’t gaming anything here, there’s no chance he could tell what happened, nobody could at real time speed. There was a bush in his face, he could barely swing or see the ball, he did the best with what he had. Scooping/pushing or double hitting, and purposely doing so for advantage at an “unofficial silly season event”, nah not by my eye.
Michael Schurman, Master Professional / Life Member, PGA of Canada: Over time several players have walked with one foot on the line. Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Mark McCumber and Gary Player have all come under criticism for extending themselves ‘liberties’. Strangely, none of them are on my list of favourite players. Imagine how distracting it must be to be paired with one of them in an event you are in contention to win and you have to make an effort to ‘watch’ for untoward actions. Re Tiger, add it to the continuously growing list of incidents that defray the many good things he does.
Dave Kaplan, Freelance Writer (@davykap): I think Tiger most definitely knew that he double-hit, or extendo-hit, his ball. Hell, even I know when I do it and I don’t have a fraction of the touch that guy has. So, I do think he gamed the rule to his advantage. But who cares? The guy was WAY out of contention at that point, and even without the penalty being assessed, he still made a double bogey on the hole. This rule is getting eliminated for a reason in January. When you double tap, it’s never intentional and it almost never benefits the player. This is just one of those rare instances where it did.
Hal Quinn, Freelance Writer, Vancouver: My buds and I will forever know it as a T.C. (as in ’85 US Open Chen). We call it gleefully on each other in the backyard, at pitch and putts, and out on the course. But really, we don’t have to because every player who does a T.C. knows it and is laughing along with the rest of us. Woods should always be remembered as a serial rules stretcher — the 8-man loose impediment at the ’99 Phoenix Open being exhibit A — and anyone who has played enough to get to even a 20 handicap knows the difference between a strike and a scoop. Don’t know if he T.C’d it, seemed more like a lacrosse sweeping pass. But that he didn’t acknowledge it (as any Gentleman Golfer would) was embarrassing, or at least should have been for Woods, but that might be hoping for too much. The new rule is ridiculous. You register a stroke each time you hit the ball. Period. T.C. Lives. Oh, and by the way, next year take out the freakin’ flag when you’re putting.
Peter Mumford, Fairways Magazine (@FairwaysMag): One of the things that sets golf apart from other sports is the presumption that players will call penalties on themselves and that a player’s integrity is never in dispute. In other sports, players try to get away with everything they can and only acknowledge wrongdoing when a referee can catch them, although usually not without a lot of hollering and drama. When Tiger Woods bends the Rules of Golf to his advantage, it gives everybody watching the impression that it’s ok to cheat provided nobody sees you. Tiger absolutely must have known that he made a double hit and should have done the honourable thing and called a penalty on himself. However, past experiences like his sketchy drop on the 15th hole at the 2013 Masters or the 14th hole at the 2013 Players Championship shouldn’t lead us to expect anything honourable.
Over the years, there have been countless tournament or playoff outcomes that you or golf fans in general wished had gone a different way. Which one do you think about most or find most unsettling?
Deeks: I guess the most obvious, to Canadians, would be the Canadian Open that Mike Weir lost to Vijay Singh in a playoff at Glen Abbey, in 2004… Canada’s last, best chance to win the national Open in 50 years at that time. There was also Arnold Palmer’s collapse on the back nine at the US Open in 1966, when he gave up seven shots, ended up tied with Billy Casper, and lost the playoff the next day. That was really the beginning of the end of Arnold’s dominance in golf. And personally, I once lost a match on the first playoff hole after being 4-up with four to go. Talk about choking!!
Loughry: It could be Billy Mayfair beating Tiger, Tiger’s only official PGA Tour playoff loss. Yeah, that’s right. Billy Mayfair beat Tiger in a playoff. But, for us up here in Canada, its VJ (deer antler spray) Singh beating home grown Mike Weir for the 2004 Canadian Open title. DEVASTATING for Weir and our nation. BUMMER.
Schurman: There can’t be any more tragic ending than Jean van de Velde and Paul Laurie in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. Van de Velde for his crushing triple bogie and Laurie for the asterisk beside his final round 67 and playoff victory. He also overcame a 10-stroke deficit in the final round.
Kaplan: I often find myself thinking about Jordan Spieth’s Sunday collapse at Amen Corner in 2016. Those two shots into Rae’s Creek were just so uncharacteristic of the young Texan. He’s usually so clutch and composed, especially at Augusta National. I’m still not quite sure what exactly happened there. Of course, I am biased. Spieth is, after all, my favourite player not named Beef or Ho-Sung Choi.
Quinn: Pebble Beach, 1984. Hale Irwin (Mr. Personality) snaps it into the ocean on the 18th on Sunday. It hits the only pebble on the Pacific Coast that could rocket it back up the cliff and onto the fairway. He birdies to tie Jim Nelford. Irwin gets two more lucky breaks and wins on the third playoff hole. Graceless in victory, he hardly acknowledges Nelford or even hints that he was the luckiest SOB on the planet that day. Without Irwin’s incredible breaks, Nelford would have won his first of what I think would have been many. And can’t help thinking all these years — having met Jim for a magazine profile and a number of times after — that his trajectory would have changed, and he wouldn’t have been waterskiing a year later and run over by the boat, the accident that so dramatically changed his life. One bounce off one pebble — hope climate change has washed it away.
Mumford: I’ve been an ardent Greg Norman fan for much of his career and there are numerous instances when an outcome in his favour turned on a lucky bounce or hole-out by someone I wouldn’t have thought quite so deserving. Norman was equally adept at shooting himself in the foot on occasion too but the worst incident of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory was the 1996 Masters when the Shark took a six-shot lead into the final round and lost by five to Nick Faldo. It was his third near miss at a Green Jacket and for me the most heart-wrenching.
It’s Award Season. Name the Best and Worst TV Announcer / Analyst for 2018.
Deeks: Worst: Gary McCord… just a bloated, egotistical windbag who thinks he’s clever and amusing, but isn’t. At all. Best… I’d have to say Dan Hicks, the NBC golf anchor, who manages the proceedings very smoothly without ever getting in the way of the action or his colleagues. I doubt anyone else on the panel will pick Dan, but that’s a credit to his skill of just doing his job. Compared to Jim Nantz, who should always be accompanied by a 30-string orchestra, Hicks is a superstar.
Loughry: Of late, Dan Hicks is starting to annoy me. I’m a bit of a purist, but most of his comments have little to do with the golf itself. If I want TMZ stuff, or fluff, I’ll find it, just stick to the action and any related golf. I’m more interested in knowing if a player has missed three shots left and why than if they’re getting married soon. Happy for the marriage, sure, but I want to know the stories within the tournament. Best commentator/analyst? Hard to pick between Frank Nobilo, David Duval and a close Judy Rankin. If I have to, I’ll give the nod to Duval. He’s honest, refreshing and provides great perspective.
Schurman: There are two tied for the worst ever. Brent Musburger and Joe Buck. Both are in love with their own voice and neither has a clue about golf or when not to talk. My ‘today’ favourites are Johnny Miller, Nick Faldo and Paul Azinger. They are knowledgeable, honest and not afraid to criticize the players. My ‘old time’ favourites are Ken Venturi, Pat Summerall, Byron Nelson and Chris Schenkel.
Kaplan: Best: David Feherty. His insights are as good as anyone else in the booth and he single-handedly makes broadcasts entertaining with his humour and charm. Worst: Joe Buck. Joe Buck is lousy at calling every sport, but his monotonous tone and lack of anything interesting to say at all times plays particularly poorly when he’s covering golf. Sometimes, I put on old PVRed broadcasts of Joe Buck calling golf tournaments when I’m having trouble falling asleep. It usually does the trick.
Quinn: Best is Chris Collingsworth, not even close. Oh, just golf? Roger Maltbie -knowledgeable, concise, humourous, keeps his ego – hello Johnny, Feherty et al – in check. Worst is Gary Koch who cannot stop talking over and interrupting his colleagues. If he pulled that crap in a magazine editorial meeting, he’d be picking up chicklets. Insufferable, year after freakin’ year. The Golf Channel announcers are all so obsequious, sounding like they’re afraid of losing their press pass if they don’t constantly pander, all tie for worst. Dan Hicks just says too many untranslatable things — to any language — to qualify, so by default it’s Jim Nance — even as he is now going all high-pitched pimp for no known reason. Friends, let us all give daily thanks to the inventor of the mute button, the late great Robert Adler.
Mumford: Since it’s his last year on the air, I’ll go with Johnny Miller. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining and rather than bleat endlessly, he knows when to throw it to trusted side-kick Roger Maltbie, another pro that could be on this list along with Dan Hicks, Judy Rankin and Frank Nobilo. Unfortunately, golf announcers only have two levels: the good ones; and all the rest. In the latter category, it’s a toss-up between Joe Buck and Gary McCord. The reasons aren’t important, but both score highest on my Annoyance Meter.