Jim Nantz will be doing play-by-play of the Farmers … from the AFC Championship game site
When professional golf resumed in the summer of 2020 following the pandemic-induced shutdown, CBS Sports golf anchor Jim Nantz was the only on-air talent on site for the run of PGA Tour events on the network. The rest of the crew contributed remotely.
Next week at the Farmers Insurance Open near San Diego, the debut event for CBS Sports in its 65th consecutive season broadcasting the PGA Tour, the band is getting back together at Torrey Pines Golf Course. This time, however, Nantz will be elsewhere. Because the NFL expanded its schedule to 18 weeks, its conference championship games are next Sunday. Nantz, of course, will call the AFC game alongside analyst Tony Romo from Nashville, Kansas City or Buffalo.
To avoid a conflict with football, the PGA Tour shifted the schedule so that the Farmers Insurance Open begins on Wednesday and ends Saturday with a prime-time finish on the East Coast. Nantz will be at the site of the NFL game for CBS’ Friday and Saturday golf broadcasts, calling the action from a production truck at the stadium.
“I didn’t want to miss it,” Nantz said Wednesday during a Zoom call with the media before giving credit to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and CBS brass for “coming up with a tremendous game plan to end the event on Saturday night.”
Nantz, of course, has the strongest ties to golf among broadcasters who never played professionally, going back to his college days competing at the University of Houston, where his teammates included future Masters champion Fred Couples. So, it’s no surprise that he reiterates his interest in hosting CBS’ first event of the year, wherever he might be.
“I wanted to be a part of it. It definitely will not compromise anything that I’m doing on the football side,” he said. “You know, you find after all these years that the anticipation of the next season is something that's a part of your life. I think we can all relate to it. The end of the school year, the end of a fall semester or whatever it might be. In my world, I get to the end of certain seasons in a sport, and I can't wait for the next one to begin. But my longing for golf to come back into my life again is the one that I feel the most.”
Will viewers notice a difference? There were a few times viewers could sense that the CBS crew was largely working remotely in 2020, and Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, promised that, “We think it will be a seamless broadcast, and we are pleased that we could make it work, with the PGA Tour, with the folks at Farmers.”
This Sunday Nantz is calling the AFC Divisional game in Kansas City featuring the Chiefs and Bills. On Monday he flies to New York to shoot a Capital One commercial with Spike Lee and then he heads to Nashville, where he now has a home. If the Titans beat the Cincinnati Bengals, he’ll reap the benefits of that convenience the rest of the weekend. But there are production meetings, interviews with coaches and players and other preparations for the game. Somewhere in there he has to also get ready to put on his golf cap.
He’s used to that kind of challenge, however, annually juggling the NCAA Final Four broadcasts immediately before Masters week.
“You know, there's not many things that you do that are all that vastly different from year to year,” said Nantz, 62, who has been calling golf at CBS since 1985. “I'm pretty much accustomed to the stretch from the Final Four to the Masters. I've done that 30 something times … 36 times. So, this will be something that I'll relish the chance to do.”