Brandel Chamblee at the Masters: Certain to be informative, likely to be incendiary
When Masters week commences on Monday, Brandel Chamblee will be a Golf Channel fixture, pre- and post-ESPN and CBS coverage, providing informed opinion for which he will be ritually criticized on social media.
Chamblee is a polarizing figure who nonetheless is the best part of Masters week television, save for the actual tournament coverage. Analysts have opinions and good analysts provide data to support those opinions. Chamblee is a good analyst, arguably the best in golf.
"I'm always taken aback when people describe it as controversial," Chamblee said. "I view it as doing my job.
"When people tell me Tiger Woods in 2000 was the greatest driver of the golf ball, it's based upon what? The truth is, they started keeping stats on total driving in 1980. There were more than a dozen guys who drove the ball better than Tiger Woods did in 2000. Jack Nicklaus drove it better than Tiger Woods and he was in his 40s. Nick Price drove it better. They're not doing their homework. It's perpetuating a lie. Our audience deserves to know how it ranks."
Chamblee, 52, grew up in a family of debaters that includes a brother who is among the top trial lawyers in Dallas and a father unwilling to countenance a weak argument. Those friendly, but spirited dinner-table parleys form the basis of his approach to his job: offering informed opinion, without regard to whether it invokes the wrath of some in his audience.
"I remember reading Dan Jenkins, that he'd look at the leaderboard and ask himself, what just happened here?' That was a starting point for Dan Jenkins. I look at it the same way. What just happened and what are we not getting? I watch and follow every event to its conclusion, wherever it may take me, and try to explain to people how I believe it happened.
"Ray Floyd, people will tell you, was a great closer. I'm not trying to disparage Ray Floyd. I enjoyed his stare, the fact that he swung differently. But for you to say that he's a great closer means you haven't done your homework, you're not doing your job. A great closer to me is somebody who consistently, more than half the time, closes a 54-hole lead. Ray Floyd didn't do that."
Chamblee notes that Floyd won 12 of the 27 tournaments in which he held or shared a 54-hole lead.
"It's my job to give a plausible explanation for something. I don't pretend to know everything. My job is not to state the obvious, but to try to draw conclusions and to do it in as entertaining a way as I can, with historical perspective."