CBS Sports tees off its 2020 golf season the weekend of January 25th at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif.
The network debuts a new announce team led by veteran host Jim Nantz and lead analyst and six-time major champion Sir Nick Faldo anchoring coverage from the 18th tower. Davis Love III makes his CBS Sports debut, alongside analysts Ian Baker-Finch, Frank Nobilo, Dottie Pepper, Mark Immelman and reporter Amanda Balionis.
This is the time of year when many television golf consumers rev up their interest in the PGA Tour’s weekly schedule. On the media call earlier this week, I had an opportunity to engage with the broadcasters, those who keep us company through much of the summer. These are their comments, plans and opinions.
- Tiger, 44, makes his season debut at Torrey Pines, doing so on the threshold of breaking Sam Snead’s all-time wins record of 82. Faldo says that Woods’ last three wins came on tree lined, little rough courses. So Nick won’t be the least surprised to see Tiger break the record at Augusta in April.
- Nantz talked reverentially about the great Jack Nicklaus who turns 80 next Tuesday, referring to him at one point as a demigod. He said Jack’s wife Barbara and the Nicklaus family name mean so much to the game of golf. The Memorial, Jack’s event at Muirfield Village in Ohio, is easily one of Jim’s favorite events to cover each year.
- CBS made significant changes in the analysts’ lineup this year. One time Major winner Davis Love III, Frank Nobilo of the Golf Channel, NBC up and comer Trevor Immelman and Michelle Wie, who’s expecting her first child this summer will join the CBS team at The Masters. Michelle will contribute as an analyst in CBS’ digital space. (Trevor Immelman will not be working Torrey Pines.)
- A couple generations of viewers will have to adjust to the fact that they won’t have their longtime weekend friends Peter Kostis and Gary McCord on the CBS call. Of the new arrivals, Love III probably has the most to learn. On the call, Davis himself referenced doing some boot camp type work with the CBS staff along with really diving in, watching as he put it, “a ton of golf the past few months.”
- Yes, there’s the issue of the Patrick Reed controversy, a subject that has dominated the golfing world the past couple months. Reed made major headlines amidst cheating allegations during the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. It’s a controversy that has followed Reed and his caddie, brother-in-law Kessler Karain, who was involved in an altercation with a fan at the President’s Cup in Australia.
- Golf Channel’s outspoken and lead analyst Brandel Chamblee has been particularly blunt in his assessment of Reed, going so far as to label him a cheater. Reed’s attorney for that matter served Chamblee a cease and desist letter for his harsh commentary about Reed.
- I asked the CBS broadcasters how they plan to treat the Reed subject on-air. Nantz said that CBS’ golf team hasn’t been together for five months and that the matter will be part of the planning discussion when the voices sit down as a group in San Diego. The meeting will be led by veteran producer Lance Barrow, who is stepping down from his golf role at the end of the ’20 season. Nantz said, “We’ll have a lot of very fair perspectives when it comes to the Reed story but I’m not going to jump the gun and tell you what CBS’ perspective will be right now. I’m going to wait a week on that and we’ll figure it out as a team. We’ll run through everything pertinent to the game at the moment. They’ll probably be thirty topics we’ll discuss.”
- I asked Faldo and Love III to weigh in on Reed and his 2020 Ryder Cup prospects:
Faldo labeled him an “antagonistic person. He’s comfortable being uncomfortable in situations. Most guys don’t want that kind of attention on themselves. He seems to thrive on it and I’m sure he’ll want to play himself onto the team.”
Love added, “Having been in most team rooms the last couple decades, I can tell you he’s a great team player. Guys want him as a partner. Reed wears that American flag all year long. I assure you that if he’s playing well, they’re going to want him on the team. He’s a passionate team player.”
CBS will broadcast twenty PGA TOUR events, featuring four Tournaments during the “West Coast Swing” throughout January and February, the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide in June, the World Golf Championships-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in July and The Northern Trust, the first FedExCup Playoff event in August. The schedule also includes the season’s first two major championships, the Masters and PGA Championship in April and May respectively.
This is the 65th consecutive year that CBS will broadcast the Masters and its 30th Year airing the PGA Championship