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The Voice of Sports

Jim Nantz began his dream job as a sports commentator right out of college, and to this day is thrilled by The Masters, March Madness and his NFL broadcasts
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Jim Nantz, May/June 2011

(continued from page 5)

CBS, Nantz says, was the only network he’d ever wanted to work for because “CBS had the Masters. I always loved the Masters—it was the only major that was contested on the same course every year. I like the feeling of hope and renewal in the springtime, when it’s played.”

In 1986, Nantz was involved in his first Masters broadcast, standing at the 16th hole as Jack Nicklaus made a historic charge, uttering a line for which he has become famous: “The Bear has come out of hibernation.” Eventually, Nantz became CBS’s top golf broadcaster, which meant leading coverage of the Masters. His goal at this point in his career? To broadcast 50 Masters’ tournaments.

“I’ll be 75 if I do 50 Masters,” Nantz says. “It would be April 8, 2035. Obviously, a lot of things have to fall into place for that to happen.”

Nantz loves to cover golf and still loves to play it, though his game is a hit-and-miss proposition. Says Billy Packer, his former on-air partner covering March Madness, “He’s a PGA golfer on the driving range and a 14 handicap on the golf course. It mentally gets to him.”

“Believe me, I was masquerading as a golfer at the University of Houston,” Nantz says. “But I get a lot out of the game just being on the driving range. I imagine I’m a player who needs to hit certain shots to win a tournament. It’s a trick of the mind I used to do as a kid.”

He enjoys playing in charity events when he can—and was a regular golf partner of former Pres. George H.W. Bush, once playing a few rounds with Bush and former Pres. Bill Clinton (and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady). On the course, Bush said in an e-mail interview, Nantz is quick with a quip—about himself and others.

“Jim is good with the ‘lip wedge,’ needling as we play,” Bush observed. “His love of the game comes through. He makes everyone feel included. I just plain like the man.”

Not that Nantz gets that many opportunities to actually play a round: “He seems to add club memberships all the time but his time constraints keep him from playing,” Marchand says.

Notes Nantz, “I’ve been the beneficiary of really nice extensions of appreciation by wonderful golf clubs across the country. But I just don’t have time to play.”

Nantz was invited to speak at the U.S. Capitol for National Golf Day on April 28, and at the World Golf Hall of Fame for its induction day in early May, to present two new inductees: former Pres. George H.W. Bush and Frank Chirkinian, Nantz’s former boss at CBS, who was known as the father of televised golf. Nantz spearheaded a move for an emergency
election for Chirkinian, before his longtime producer died in March: “They’re both great men who have been father figures to me,” he says.

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Comments   1 comment(s)

Tracy Rowe — KS, USA,  —  November 20, 2011 5:32am ET

I have a collection of 40 cigars dating from 1897 to 1944 with a variety of brands. They are individual cigars in mint condition. The history or occasion is available for each one (wedding, birth of a child, company picnic, etc.). Any ideas where to sell them? Thanks, Tracy

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