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Rating the Commentators, 2009 Edition, Part Two

Oct. 15, 2009     By     Comments (19)

The much anticipated… ok, "sort-of looked forward to" second installment is here!

Thrash TalkLast week, I assessed the performance of the microphone holders from CBS. This week, NBC's announcers are up for their single paragraph of scrutiny, or praise, as the case may be.

Before I proceed, I'd like to respond to what I anticipate will be the most prominent reader question: "If all these announcers/networks are so mediocre, what should they be doing differently to please you, you pompous doofus?" My answer is this: "You'll have to wait for my next column!"

Without further ado, on to the ratings!

NBC

Dan Hicks: D
Dan Hicks is Jim Nantz, Jr.

The most interesting thing about Dan Hicks is that he is married to Hannah "I'm the official bobble-head doll of ESPN" Storm. Also he is the "stroke by stroke" announcer for many swimming events… Really? Stroke by stroke?

"So, Dan, what do you do for a living"

"Well, I don't like to boast, but I am the stroke by stroke announcer for NBC's swimming coverage… "

Hicks' brilliant oratory was on display throughout the Presidents Cup this weekend. As David Marrandette of the Phoenix Examiner writes:

He [Hicks] apparently didn't realize that the two teams involved in the competition were the U.S. and the Rest of the World (Internationals), not the Europeans. (Dan, that's the Ryder Cup as even the most casual fan could tell you.) He also referred to the Nobel Prize as the noble prize. (Dan it's not that hard to distinguish between the two words.) Hicks further displayed a height phobia. His constant reference to Tim Clark's height (the "little guy") became annoying and insulting.

Well done, Mr. Hicks.

Johnny Miller: C+
I'm not sure if you're aware, but Johnny Miller once shot a 63 at Oakmont… Really though, I'd like to be up-front about this: I admire Mr. Miller's achievement some 25+ years ago.

Unfortunately, success has gone to his head, literally. It seems his melon grows larger every telecast.

These potshots aside, while I don't like Johnny Miller or particularly enjoy his weekly arrogance and display of learning ("The grain is growing into the players there, right, Rog?"), I think the Johnny Miller type is essential to a good golf telecast.

Miller is critical of players, has a good knowledge of the game, was once an excellent player in his own right and, as a tournament nears the final stages, his announcing actually seems to get better. He could be more uniformly critical, talk more about theory, rather than "right way/wrong way" and stop making references to his own closing ability at Oakmont, but his approach is a start.

Roger Maltbie: D
Proof that walking the golf course on a daily basis will not guarantee a svelte figure, I give you Roger Maltbie…

Roger Maltbie…

Eh, I have no idea why this guy is on television.

Apparently this really happened, though.

Gary Koch: D
Koch was a really, really good player at a young age.

Now, he is a really, really bad middle-aged announcer.

His voice is somewhat suited to television, but his brain is… well, not.

Tower commentary is a strange domain. The announcer isn't really following play, and probably spends half of his/her day glancing between the monitor and the meaningless action outside the tower. It's not a great position to be in. The reality is, though, that if Gary Koch were removed from all future NBC telecasts nothing would be lost.

He's filler - the equivalent of a 54-year-old Pizza Hut manager.

Dottie Pepper: B
I hope the "choking freaking dogs" comment doesn't become Pepper's legacy. She is, by default, a better announcer than many of her male contemporaries. I don't mean to introduce the notion of a glass ceiling, but as there are significantly fewer female announcers of men's golfing events, they are pressured to do more to keep their jobs.

The opposite side of this argument is that Pepper, and other women, are plugged in an "affirmative action" sort of way. However, I think Pepper has earned her place in the upper echelon of golf announcing, as opposed to other female announcers, such as Judy Rankin, who was a crazy old bat before she was actually old.

Jimmy Roberts: D
I quote from my as of yet unfulfilled Christmas wish:

As he's won 11 Sports Emmy Awards, I am sure there are many fans of Jimmy Roberts. However, I have yet to meet any personally. His puff pieces of sappy "journalism" unnerve me nearly as much as his nasally voice. I always figured Roberts, who strikes me as an elitist resident of the Hamptons, had been awarded his job through some form of nepotism or gross negligence. I cringe every time the pompously attired Maryland Terrapin appears on screen. It is absolutely baffling to me that the man worked under Howard Cosell at ABC. Santa, I don't want Jimmy Roberts to be fired, just reappointed to covering events which I don't watch, such as bowling or figure skating.

Part Three Next Week
I'll take a look at Golf Channel's announcers, including the heavily scrutinized Kelly Tilghman, next week.

Also, I'll present a better blueprint for golf coverage… one with more information and insight and less overwhelming blandness.

Until then, comment on this article or the first with your assessments of the announcers excoriated therein.

Discussion

  1. teeitup says:

    No mention of the often incoherent, and stupefying Nick Faldo? Without question one of the least interesting people ever. CBS rushed him in like it was the greatest coup ever, yet he barely pays attention, has nothing to say and speaks as though he has his head underwater.

    Miller is a strange person indeed, he does get better as things go on, and maybe the sense that he is not all there is half the fun, but we're he to move along I don't think he'd be missed.

  2. No mention of the often incoherent, and stupefying Nick Faldo?

    He'll be covered in part three with other Golf Channel announcers.

  3. Frank says:

    I wish Special events would have special announcers. For instance I would love to hear Trevino at some Southwest tourney telling tales of Texas golf. What would be other good matches? BTW I like Faldo.

  4. Peter says:

    I like Faldo as well.

  5. Butch says:

    The comment I'm tired of hearing is "Ball Striker".
    He's a great ball striker. Isn't golf about striking the ball?

  6. Crusher says:

    I'm eagerly awaiting the review of Kelly Tilghman, who I feel is the most intrusive, annoying and distracting announcer currently working.

  7. Scott says:

    Johnny Miller: I can promise you that he would not be missed should he be walluped in the head from stray John Daly second shot into the tower. He is very arrogant and possesses the ability to give the game a "crotchety old man" appearance. I despise him... and I am very proud that this forum has taken the opportunity to "bust his balls" for being the horses rear that he is.

    Nick Faldo: He is the reason I dont turn the channel after Miller gets diarrhea of his politically correct mouth. Faldo is a breath of fresh air in a stuffy room full of upper-class "hollier that thou" types. He's the only one with the credentials to back up what he says.

  8. Scott says:

    Comparing Johnny Miller to Nick Faldo is is like comparing Bill Maher to Rush Limbaugh... its obvious one of them is an idiot, but the idiot depends on which social class you ask.

  9. JERoethel says:

    When I am inclined to watch golf (namely, not during football season), I record and watch later so I can skip the enormous number of commercials and Jimmy Roberts and the player interviews.

    What I do like is the swing analysis and I think Gary Koch is very good at that. And the swing vision is instructive.

  10. Kevin says:

    Dottie Pepper? It's amazing that she received the highest ranking in this edition. She is annoying beyond belief and seem to be trying to "prove herself" every time she opens her mouth. To each his own but if it were up to me, Dottie would be the one golf announcer I would kick to the curb.

  11. Andy says:

    Not hard enough on Johnny. Yes he is knowledgeable but I feel like his own arrogance gets in the way of rational analysis. How many times have I heard johnny miller tell me that so and so should make a chip 50% of the time?

    Furthermore I realize that we've gone over this but does everybody remember the time that he thought the USGA "shot a 63 this week" when all he was trying to say was that it was a well run and successful tournament. What an ass. I despise him.

    I have to agree that Jimmy Roberts is simply unbearable. Every time I see one of his pieces about to start I begin to feel uncomfortable because I know he is about to embarrass the entire game of golf.

  12. Jon says:

    I find that I enjoy listening to Faldo, Feherty, McCord and Miller. Maybe I don't take it seriously enough to get annoyed. Faldo and Feherty are my favorite of the bunch. Azinger is good too when he's on.

  13. Matthew says:

    Johnny Miller.....where do we start? Ummm...well, first off if Johnny Miller was 30 years younger he would be whipping Tiger Woods around the course (just like he did with Jack Nicklaus?) haha...no seriously, Miller is someone who really believes in himself. thats not always a bad thing, but when you had your time and its over now then shut the hell up! i hate listening to him....he always knows the answer, always breaks down a bad shot, always gives his opinion (from the tower) how good or bad the lie is, etc....he is bad for golf and bad for TV....arrogance isn't something the average viewer likes to hear.....atleast Nick Faldo has won 6 majors and is a former World Number 1!!! Someday maybe NBC, will be able to compete with CBS.....

    Can't wait for Golf Channel Analysts!!! Tilghman, Brandel and the BEST Charlie Rymer!!!

  14. Trav says:

    Jim Nantz will undoubtedly do better when his divorce ends and he can be happy once again.

    http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/localnews/ci_13586096?source=rss

    http://www.connpost.com/ci_13585978?source=rss

  15. Scott says:

    Johnny Miller.....where do we start? Ummm...well, first off if Johnny Miller was 30 years younger he would be whipping Tiger Woods around the course (just like he did with Jack Nicklaus?) haha...no seriously.

    This sounds like something my teenage daughter wrote.

  16. HenrI says:

    Isn't Hicks the guy who constantly repeats what he thinks is a poignant phrase ie: a Woods chip - "better than most, better than most, better than most. Now he just waits for the moment he can spring another one on us but sadly just sounds like a goof.

  17. Isn't Hicks the guy who constantly repeats what he thinks is a poignant phrase ie: a Woods chip - "better than most, better than most, better than most.

    That would be Gary Koch, and I share your annoyance with his repeating statements. "Will it hold? Will it hold? Will it..?? Hold??"

  18. HenrI says:

    I think you should throw in a few comments in The Golf Channel review about the Big Break announcers as well. Good show but how inane are those people with their flair for describing the obvious! I really liked the gal they had on the very first show though, at least you could tell why she was there.

  19. t1dude says:

    I wish you would have rated Gary McCord. IMHO, that guy is useless as a commentator. He often just blabbles on about stuff totally unrelated to golf, and I guess that's called "Color Commentary", but the way he does it is annoying. And seriously, talk about riding the wave of past success, I've heard McCord talk about playing college golf and compare it to what those guys on tour are dealing with. He seems like a very nice person, but I do not care for his commentary.

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