Friday, February 06, 2009

Ye who hurtest me

Golf takes a lot to watch. Most think you're nuts to spend hours watching a bunch of out-of-shape dudes hitting golf shots. These people have no idea where the real pain comes from:


Nantz. Azinger. Tilghman.

These people talk about golf on a professional basis, so listening to them should be a joy. But it's not, it's fingers on a chalkboard. Pain. Bleeding ears. So I present to you my best and worst picks of golf commentators.

Best golf commentator

Johnny Miller

This man is a golf God. Not only does he have the bona fides ('63 Oakmont anyone?) to call "choke" on any pro's shot, but he actually can't help himself from saying it--he has no "off button." Puke, choke, duff, and fan are all part of his lingual repetoire, and in contrast to the corporate shills who call golf at other channels, Johnny is like daylight in a musty basement.

2nd Best golf commentator

David Feherty

I have a theory that the more a person suffers the better a coversationalist they become. Feherty seems to fit the bill--a journeyman pro (suffering) who had an over-enthusiastic fondness for Scotch (more suffering) who's Irish (double suffering). This type of guy usually has a unique perspective on life and golf. Love him. Would love to have a drink with him.

3rd Best golf commentator

Roger "Rog" Maltbie.

Nothing more need be said. Except he's the ham to Johnny Miller's eggs. During a broadcast nothing makes me happier to hear, "John that was a heckuva shot."

4th Best golf commentator

Nick Faldo

Faldo is an ego (full disclosure: I worked as a cable-puller for CBS at Firestone in Akron, and he once chided a friend and coworker for moving during a putt: "You'll never work in this business again." Of course none of us worked in "the business" in the first place so we laughted pretty hard) but when he works for the Golf Channel, he's spot on with his assessment of the mindset of pro's brains. He's perceptive, irreverant, and ballsey. But once he starts calling it for CBS it's a new, boring ballgame...

5th Best golf commentator

Gary McCord

Anyone who can be banned by the crackers at Augusta National for uttering "bikini wax" is okay in my book.

Tie: Jerry Foltz, Curt Byrum, Brandel Chamblee

If only the broadcast golf guys could learn to be as straighforward as these guys.

6th Best golf commentator

Ian Baker-Finch
Like Feherty, this guy has suffered--he won the Open, and then... was never heard from again. He has humility and only calls players on failure of brain (i.e. stupid plays) and not failure of body (pushes, pulls, slices, hooks, et al). Baker-Finch carries a snarky-free zone around him when he commentates and for that I thank him.

7th Best golf commentator

Frank Nobilo
A bright spot at the Golf Channel, he's pretty fair in his crit of pro players. "Bad, not good, weak, un-smart" are never parts of his lexicon, which leads me to think he has a heart and listens to it. Frank's family is also part of a 300-year wine-producing tradition (which can never hurt my estimation of anyone.)

8th Best golf commentator

Peter "Oostie" Oosterhuis
A well-heeled Brit with impeccable decency, this dude will never, ever, ever say anything unseemly about a golfer. Although I implicitly don't trust tall golfers (he's 6'7", the extra leverage is an unfair advantage) this guy I trust.

Now, let me show you my picks for "worst" golf commentators.

1st Worst golf commentator

Jim Nantz
There are two kinds of sportscasters: those who feel lucky to witness sport's great moments and those who feel they are sport's great moments. Needless to say, Nantz is the latter. It's almost as if the golf event takes place so that Nantz can encapsulate it with a "timeless" comment (who can forget "A win for the ages" after Wood's (painfully boring) '97 Masters' win). It's especially galling to watch him call the Masters, where he tempers every boring comment against the constrictive standards of the Old Boys' Network at Augusta. Nantz is kind of like the former U.S. generals who pimped positivity for the Pentagon: bought and paid for.

2nd Worst golf commentator
Lanny Wadkins
I'll bet my paycheck that Lanny is a by-the-numbers-rich-guy-ain't-gonna-pay-no-taxes Republican, but that isn't my beef with him (though I love pointing this out). His problem is that he's boring and offers no more golf insight than a gila monster. A player hits a shot offline, Lanny responds, "Jim, that is not a good shot." Really? I didn't know you needed to jar a sand shot at the '83 Ryder Cup to have such genius insight.

3rd Worst golf commentator

Curtis Strange
Like Wadkins, Strange comes from the "painfully obvious" school of commentating. "Ian, that was not a good shot by [insert pro golfer name.] His challenge on the next shot is to hit a good one." Duh.

And what is it with pro golfers and hunting?

Peter Kostis

Greeks make good gyros but I can't figure out what Kostis's value-added contribution to golf is. He's got a great rug, but aside from that, I'm lost as to why I have to listen to him chatter-on every weekend.

Gary Koch
His only claim to fame is his fetish with 3-woods that take a divot from the tee box. Exciting.

Azinger is a weirdo. Remember the clip where a player's caddie puts his hand on the player's butt to help him into a tree to find his ball? Azinger "wouldn't put his hand there." Remember when Azinger called Fred Funk the "...most accurate driver in golf" and Faldo told him to "...hang on a tick: what about the Euros?" Azinger is, and continues to be, a mess, and the sooner he leaves broadcasting the sooner I can forget worring about his next homophobic comment.

Honorable mention best/worst commentator

Kelly Tilghman

Kelly Tilghman is not a bad golf commentator. She knows golf in and out. But she's not "one of the boys"--though she desperately tries to act the part. As an actor, she's not experienced enough to improvise (remember Tiger's "lynching"?) and she's not comfortable enough with Faldo (6-time major winner) to ham-n-egg it. She tries to be Jim Nantz (or at least who Jim Nantz thinks Jim Nantz is) when she should be happy to be Brian Hammons (or whatever the fuck his name is). If Kelly relaxed and didn't try to be the biggest dick in the booth, she'd be pretty good.


Anonymous said...

Brandel Chamblee ROCKS...he's the only reason I don't press MUTE while watching golf:D "LOVE the game, HATE the boring OLD PEOPLE chatter..."

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pomed said...

sir nick faldo is the worst golf commentator ever.