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The Top-10 Announcers in Golf

golf announcers

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#1 zakkozuchowski

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:13 AM


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The Top-10 Announcers in Golf


By Chris Hibler


GolfWRX Contributor


I’m an American, born and bred. I needed to mention that right off the bat. As I sat here reviewing my list of the top-10 golf announcers in the game, I realized that it has a decidedly international flavor, as it were. I’m not sure if I am sucker for a foreign accent or stodgy in my ways.  Whatever the reason, I tended to go “Euro” (or Kiwi) as my list wears on.


My top-10 list is not designed to say who has called the most majors, or who has the best catch phrase, or who has the greatest golf resume (although it doesn’t hurt either). I didn’t do this based on popular opinion, who I liked best five years ago, or anything scientific.


The way I arrived at this list was based on nothing more analytical than personal opinion. I watch nothing but golf and other sports on TV. I use my DVR to record golf from Europe to Asia to the good ol’ US of A. I watch when I get home and when I go to sleep. On the whole, I am very satisfied with current crop of announcers and commentators. It seems that we have arrived at a good state of golf announcing right now as there is a healthy mix guys who are established as well as both women and men who are up-and-coming.


This list is written in reverse order, meaning my favorite is at the bottom of the list (No. 1). So, without further adieu, I present my top-10 list of golf announcers in the game. Feel free to add your comments and share your perspectives of why I’m wrong and/or who I forgot.


10. Jim Nantz


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The sole reason Jim Nantz makes the list is the Masters. I can’t remember a thing he has said and I can’t recall a specific insight or magical moment. But, Nantz does possess a good quality of voice and is, at this stage of his career, synonymous with the Masters, which is undoubtedly my favorite golf viewing tournamentt year in and year out. There are many other announcers better than him. But I put him up on the list solely as being the guy in the right place (Augusta, Georgia) at the right time (The Masters each year).


9. Stephanie Sparks


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This is an odd add to my list, I have to admit. I was combing through my mind for announcers and commentators that have made an impression on me. Stephanie Sparks is one of those. I know she covers the LPGA, which I don’t watch as much as I would like. But, I actually put her on this list for her other commentary work, most notably “Playing Lessons with the Pros.” I think the first “Playing Lessons” episode that I watched was with her and Ian Poulter. I realized right then and there that she had a certain flair as an announcer and gained the respect of not only Mr. Poulter but many of the other notable PGA Tour pros that she interviewed as she played alongside them. She’s got game, too. She also gets an “honorable mention” as being the 50 percent part of the announcing team on the “Big Break” that is actually tolerable!


8. Ken Venturi

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My list, my rules. Yes, Ken Venturi retired as a golf announcer. But, after watching him in an extensive interview earlier in 2012 (which was an extremely enjoyable hour); I realized that he could still call golf if given the opportunity right now. He was one of the best ever, was the voice of the Masters and had an incredible resume as both a golfer AND announcer. He also was, and still is, comfortable both praising and criticizing, which I believe are critical to success as a commentator. Yes, the retired Ken Venturi deserves a spot on any list of current golf announcers, in my opinion!


7. Roger Maltbie


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I feel that Roger is one of the best in the business as an on-course reporter. He reminds me of a favorite uncle. He is both likable and engaging. He describes the situation, has the right balance of humor combined with keen insight, and he seems to be at every tournament every week. He has the respect of the players and does a solid job at interviewing them right as they walk off the green in good times and not-so-good times. He does not rely on any kind of gag. He does a solid job and deserves recognition as being the less outrageous of the on-course duo between Gary McCord and Uncle Maltbie.


6. Gary McCord


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His frenetic, manic style combined with his own unique look at the world around him, thrown in with an inimitable way of describing things on the golf course lands him squarely on this list. Yes, I imagine that some of you are rolling your eyes and feeling that he is passé, but it is fun to see how hopped up he can be when his mic is on. You never know what he’s going to say.


I have to add that I feel like I got a better sense of who he is when I saw him interviewed on Feherty’s show earlier this year. Okay, I recognize that it is nearly impossible to NOT commentate on him and bring the Masters into the mix when discussing his career as a golf commentator. Personally, I feel that Augusta National has taken it too far with the “McCord ban.” If they can let women into the clubhouse (as they should have long ago), then it’s time to let McCord back on the grounds and let it finally be said that he has served his sentence in full for the notorious “bikini wax” and “body bags” comments. Let’s not forget that Fuzzy Zoeller went further than McCord ever did with offensive comments at The Masters and was never punished with as much force and venom as Mr. McCord was for his attempt at humor. Yes, Zoeller paid a step price in PR, but McCord has been shamed annually for over a decade for an innocent attempt at humor. Oh, Gary’s line about the greens at Augusta was funny, by the way!


5. David Feherty


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This was another name that was tough to not only put this high on the list --- but on the list at all. Yes, his act has grown a bit tired over the years. Yes, he may have stepped over the line announcing Els at the Tavistock Cup when Els subsequently unloaded on him in print (lighten up, Ernie!). Yes, Feherty rehearses funny lines and then pops them out when the occasion arises. Yes, he can even be a bit awkward at times in his interviews on his own show (although many have been terrific). But, he does still drop the perfect line with a touch of humor every now and then.


I think back to this year’s 2012 Masters when Phil Mickelson flopped a near-impossible shot from behind the 15th green. Feherty then said with a perfect delivery in his Iris brogue, “This is gonna land like a sack of flour.” What a line and what a delivery --- and earns him a spot at No. 5. Here’s a link to the “Sack of Flour” flop shot.


4. Johnny Miller


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Had I written a top 10 list of announcers two years ago, Johnny would have certainly been at the top of the list: Numero Uno, the big cheese, the cream of the crop. I am still very high on him, thus I have placed him at No. 4. But, times do change and just like all of us, there are sometimes those that come along that are just a little bit better. We can all lose our edge regardless of what we do. Now, I’m not saying he has lost his edge, but I do feel at times that his criticisms can be a little stronger or seem a little more personal at times. They may even be called for, but they need to come off as constructive rather than destructive.


Just by listening to bits and pieces, I can tell that he wants to be out there playing against the guys. I like that as he still has a player’s cockiness. I don’t know who would win in a match between Johnny Miller 1973 v. Bubba Watson 2012. But, I do know that as an announcer they need to toe the line of staying humble and let us draw the conclusions of who the greatest players of all time were and are. Comparing players between eras is a tricky business in any sport. Johnny is certainly at the top of the list as both player and announcer. But, I would prefer if we were the ones to conclusion and not have it come from the source.


3. Frank Nobilo


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Frank Nobilo is kind of like a song that becomes a part of my regular rotation. It goes like this: when I first listened, it was unfamiliar and just kind of there. Then, as I heard more and more, it became catchy. Then, after a period where I am accustomed to it, it is a standard in my library. I think Nobilo is rock solid as an announcer. He doesn’t rely on shtick or take too many shots at humor. But, what he does do is provide smart insight combined with a strong golf resume all  rapped in a pleasant voice with respect from his co-workers and the pros he works around. His New Zealand accent combined with a sharp mind have made him a cornerstone of golf coverage on the Golf Channel --- and an announcer that makes him No. 3 on my list.


2. Peter Alliss


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If you are unfamiliar with this name on the list, Peter Alliss is the voice of the European Tour and has dabbled in announcing over the years on ABC. I highly recommend that you watch his induction speech at the PGA Hall of Fame in 2012. It is an enjoyable 16 minutes, and more specifically, the last three are absolutely classic. Hopefully, you will recognize the voice and a have a window into possibly the best golf announcer ever to live. He combines a dry sense of humor with a quick wit, keen insight, a love of golf, and an accomplished career as bothprofessional golfer and announcer. Here’s a link to his induction speech.


1. Nick Faldo


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I have him at No. 1 for a reason. He possesses all of the attributes that make for the perfect announcer: he has a clear and soothing voice, he has the right balance of sense of humor combined with the appropriate level of seriousness when needed, he has the resume from his days on tour and he possesses the right balance to know when to criticize and/or praise and when to back off a bit. That’s the recipe for perfection as a golf announcer and only a few on this list have ever achieved it (or can still achieve it). I also feel that Sir Nick is underrated. I hear a lot of people talk about Johnny Miller, David Feherty and Jim Nance. But, for me, Nick Faldo is the cream of the crop and seems to be only getting better.


Chris Hibler is a contributor for GolfWRX.com. His views do not necessarily represent the views of the GolfWRX.


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#2 hogans71

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:17 AM

THIS- will be fun...

#3 imakaveli

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:19 AM

:partytime2: :partytime2: :partytime2:

#4 Troyefl

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:23 AM

I like Feherty the most.  Faldo is great too.

Would also like to add Scott Van Pelt to the list.  He is witty and entertaining.

Edited by Troyefl, 12 November 2012 - 11:52 AM.


#5 tbowles411

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:39 AM

View Posthogans71, on 12 November 2012 - 11:17 AM, said:

THIS- will be fun...
LOL!  Won't it?!  :cheesy:

I'll start it.  I'm not a huge Faldo fan (AT ALL) and am a marginal Miller fan (though knowledgable) and Sparks was a head scratcher.  There I said it.  Aside from that, I think Paul Azinger is very talented as is Mike Turico.  His preparation is tremendous, even though he was never a golfer and we only see him during Majors.  My faves are Feherty and McCord.  Here's two out of the box:  Judy Rankin and Brian Hammond.

EDIT:  Sparks is definately well suited for the BB Series.  The other guy on there makes my head hurt.  Free Vince Cellini!  :D

Edited by tbowles411, 12 November 2012 - 11:55 AM.


#6 fore_life

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:56 AM

Honestly, I'm kind of tired of feherty and McCord, I actually prefer Jerry Foltz and Rich Gannon.
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#7 fore_life

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:57 AM

And the worst have to be strange and burman, and really not a fan of azinger either
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#8 mark m

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:06 PM

5 from here, 5 from across the pond

Miller
"Cocktails"
Venturi
McCord
Oosty
Peter Alliss
Feherty
Ben Wright
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#9 deasy55

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:13 PM

Alliss is my favourite, but Faldo is certainly up there.

Wayne Riley is great too

#10 Jamboy72

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:25 PM

Yep...this is certainly a fun one...nice write up and any time you toss a top 10 list out there, people will have their own take...For me,  I don't think Nick F. would be in my top 3...but on the other hand, I would probably have J. Miller as #1...seems to be a guy whom you absolutely love or loathe...


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#11 MileHighClub

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:47 PM

That is a great photo of Stephanie Sparks.  Don't know that she belongs on the list, but I sure like looking at her.  Peter Oosterhuis should probably be listed instead.

Edited by MileHighClub, 12 November 2012 - 12:48 PM.

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#12 Masterplan

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 01:45 PM

View Postfore_life, on 12 November 2012 - 11:57 AM, said:

And the worst have to be strange and burman, and really not a fan of azinger either

I couldn't agree more: I am so over Chris Berman not just with golf but with pretty much all of his work.  His voice is just too trashed at this point.  I would do the "Bottom 5" list next --- but it would just be too mean-spririted.  But, I will say this: Berman would top that list!

Love the comments on my article.  Keep 'em coming!

-Chris

#13 hogans71

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:37 PM

I can deal with most. A few try to become part of the story (looking at you McCord), while others love to regale us with their past(we know who). I don't watch anything on GC aside from actual coverage so I don't much care about them.

I too would like to see Berman removed forever- he's just awful. But I save my heaviest disdain for Dan Hicks. Far and away the worst announcer on TV- anywhere on the planet...

I do love the euro coverage. Feel these announcers are top notch. As far as over here? Johnny Miller & Nick Faldo (ducks for coverage!). They've been through it and I feel that adds to the telecast...

#14 eldog-in-the-hizouse

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:43 PM

I love Faldo. He drops some real golf tip gems in every telecast. There are things that he says that I carry with me in all of my practice sessions and on the course. He does it when he is describing a shot, you have to pay attention sometimes to get it. As far as just listening to someone I love to listen to the guys on the European Tour telecasts as well. Ian Baker Finch is great too.
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#15 PZero

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:47 PM

I like Jim Nantz, Faldo, SVP, and Feherty.

The worst is Chris Berman. This guy has no business being on TV anymore, his act was getting old 10 years ago.

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#16 MtlJeff

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 03:41 PM

i certainly have no problem listening to Faldo or Miller, i like both guys. Miller is my favorite simply for pushing the envelope here and there. The guys are there to give opinions too and Miller always keeps it interesting.

good article and ballsy topic knowing this forum
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#17 imakaveli

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 05:56 PM

On the other side, Italian commentators sux

#18 dbringans

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:27 PM

View Posthogans71, on 12 November 2012 - 11:17 AM, said:

THIS- will be fun...

"I agree, Johnny"

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Edited by dbringans, 12 November 2012 - 06:27 PM.


#19 TheMackDaddy

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:32 PM

Where is Chris Berman?

#20 MtlJeff

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:37 PM

View PostTheMackDaddy, on 12 November 2012 - 06:32 PM, said:

Where is Chris Berman?

Chris Berman will live on forever in my mind for his play-by-play for former NFL running back Chris Fuamatu Maafala

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Tom Jackson: Shut your mouth!
Berman: But i'm talking about Maafala
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#21 tbowles411

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 07:21 PM

Berman....ugh!  NIGHTMARES!

#22 Awsi Dooger

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

Miller is still the best but he's not what he was. The change is glaring if you listen to old tapes. Tommy Roy wants first-guess, not second-guess but Miller now plays after the fact too often.

He's not critical enough, IMO. He seems to be softening his stance, as if he knows he'll retire sooner than we believe and he wants the final impression to be less harsh. Miller as an announcer is like a senior golfer in a PGA major. He still has days as good as ever but he can't string four rounds in a row.

Johnny, the haters still think you mention Oakmont and 63 ten times per telecast. Nothing will change that. Your biggest fans are being cheated. Go for it.

Faldo has great subtle moments but he won't commit. Nantz asks for a pick and he names everyone on the leaderboard. He'll describe a particular shot and the requirements extremely well, and not always predictably. With Miller you know what's coming, like the soled greenside wedge high on the face, the worst mistake pros make...

I don't like Feherty. I don't like anything about Feherty. But I suspect he had a pained week so I'll leave it there.

Foltz and Rankin are very, very good on LPGA telecasts. In fact, I suspect the two of them could carry it alone and it would be enjoyable and astute. BTW, the Gannon is Terry, not Rich, who is a football guy. Terry was 6th man outside shooter on NC State over Phil Slamma Jamma 1983.

#23 Malvern

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:39 PM

Scanned down the article, there he was, first cab on the rank, Jim Schmaltz, aaarrrrggghhh. It's a race between him and Baker-Finch to see if either will have an opinion before they retire.

#24 Sean2

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:50 PM

I would have liked to see Don Meredith and Howard Cosell announce golf.
Hey...be nice.

#25 MtlJeff

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 08:53 PM

^^^ not to mention Bob Uecker!

putt was just a bit outside!

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#26 Yuck

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:00 PM

Judy Rankin belongs on the list.

#27 MrParr1Noid

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:34 PM

View PostSean2, on 12 November 2012 - 08:50 PM, said:

I would have liked to see Don Meredith and Howard Cosell announce golf.

Well how about Dandy Don!  :)  Those guys had fun!   Back in the Don Meredith, Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, and John Madden days, announcers liked what they did, and they had fun doing it.   Today?  None seem to be having any fun, and everyone wants to be an authority,  everyone wants to show that they knows more than the rest..  I admit that golf is more of a challenge when it comes to dressing it up and having fun with but...

I wonder who is in charge or who directs what the announcers do and how they  say it?   It seems none have a  clue, and it seems that none are having fun at what they'e doing.  Everyone talks about liking that guy from England and his "go to sleep" voice but not I.   I'd rather listen to a babbling brook or a babbling broads but anything besides him.  Johnny Miller is as good of an announcer as there is but he isn't "entertaining",  he's knowledgeable but  he and televised golf both lack much in the way of entertaining qualities.   Fehrety's funny but he gets old with the same old material.  He needs to take himself less serious as being humorous or have a side kick for him to bounce his humor off from.

Ok, let's see how many feathers I've ruffled... :)
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#28 MtlJeff

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:47 PM

View PostMrParr1Noid, on 12 November 2012 - 09:34 PM, said:

View PostSean2, on 12 November 2012 - 08:50 PM, said:

I would have liked to see Don Meredith and Howard Cosell announce golf.

Well how about Dandy Don!  :)  Those guys had fun!   Back in the Don Meredith, Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford, and John Madden days, announcers liked what they did, and they had fun doing it.   Today?  None seem to be having any fun, and everyone wants to be an authority,  everyone wants to show that they knows more than the rest..  I admit that golf is more of a challenge when it comes to dressing it up and having fun with but...

I wonder who is in charge or who directs what the announcers do and how they  say it?   It seems none have a  clue, and it seems that none are having fun at what they'e doing.  Everyone talks about liking that guy from England and his "go to sleep" voice but not I.   I'd rather listen to a babbling brook or a babbling broads but anything besides him.  Johnny Miller is as good of an announcer as there is but he isn't "entertaining",  he's knowledgeable but  he and televised golf both lack much in the way of entertaining qualities.   Fehrety's funny but he gets old with the same old material.  He needs to take himself less serious as being humorous or have a side kick for him to bounce his humor off from.

Ok, let's see how many feathers I've ruffled... :)

I'm a big supporter of the booth having a little fun or making jokes. It would be really interesting to see one of the networks try that approach. It doesn't seem likely given golf's traditions and general stuffiness, but i actually think it would be really successful. A lot more people play golf then watch golf, if you could make watching a bit more fun maybe you could draw more viewers. You could have a 3 man booth of serious color guy, funny former pro (think Paul Goydos), and a lesser known comedian type who knows a little golf....i mean why not?
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#29 Sean2

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:58 PM

Howard: That was a circumlocutious approach shot by Phil
Don: Say what Howard?
Hey...be nice.

#30 MrParr1Noid

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:01 PM

Or Snoop Dog and Johnny Miller... :lol:

p.s.  Ya think The Golf Channel might take a peek see in here, and get some new ideas?   One could but hope... :drinks:

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