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TV boot camp awaits Davis Love III as he explains why he decided to join CBS and get into broadcasting

October 29, 2019

Icon Sportswire

On Tuesday, CBS Sports announced that it has hired Davis Love III as one of its golf analysts, beginning in 2020, with Love’s debut coming at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in January. He’ll also work the Masters, the PGA Championship and a number of other PGA Tour events. The news comes after the network parted ways with analysts Peter Kostis and Gary McCord.

That Love was hired is hardly a surprise, given his close friendship with CBS golf producer Lance Barrow, whom he has known for decades. But what will Love's role at the network look like? Will he be in the booth, or on the course? Will he continue to play? What kind of analyst will he be?

Love, 55, said that his playing days aren’t over yet—the 21-time tour winner and 1997 PGA Championship winner is teeing it up at this week’s inaugural Bermuda Championship on the PGA Tour and is expected to play in other events as the schedule allows—but noted that his focus has “fully shifted” to doing television.

“I don’t know what my role is going to be yet; we’re going to figure it out,” Love told Golf Digest. “I thought at first that sitting in the tower would be easier, but maybe it’s walking. I won’t know until we practice.”

Which is exactly what Love and CBS will do over the next couple of months before his debut. Much like it did with Tony Romo for its football telecasts, the network will put Love through a boot camp of sorts, Love says, between now and the end of the year, with he and other members of the broadcast team watching tape, practicing and familiarizing themselves with working together and the mechanics of calling golf on television.

“I’m excited about that,” Love said. “They’re not just going to throw me to the wolves.”

As quickly as the news was announced that Love would be joining CBS after the contracts of Kostis and McCord weren’t renewed over the weekend, getting the Hall of Famer and two-time Ryder Cup captain on the team was something that had been in the works for years.

An admitted “TV geek,” Love has long been someone who has enjoyed hanging out at the production truck whenever he could during his years on tour. He’s also had what he figures are “hundreds” of dinners with Barrow. The two are so close that one person from another network said they weren’t even going to bother approaching Love about doing TV because it was assumed he was going to work with Barrow if and when the time came.

They were right.

When Love needed season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in 2016, he started talking more seriously with Barrow about doing television. Then came a hip-replacement surgery in 2017. Love had also done work for CBS’ digital property at the Masters in recent years when he wasn’t playing in the tournament, and in the last few years, he said he has been watching the on-course television reporters and what they were doing, looking at how they positioned themselves while he was playing in tournaments.

“I knew that eventually I wanted to do it,” Love said. “I just didn’t know when. We’d been in talks for the last three years. It was just a matter of if I was ready to slow down [playing] and were they ready to make changes.”

During that time, Love began watching golf differently, too, analyzing what announcers and analysts were—and sometimes weren’t—saying, and when. He did the same with other sports, particularly football and baseball, taking mental notes on how Romo transitioned from the field to the booth alongside his now soon-to-be partner Jim Nantz, and how former pitcher John Smoltz, another friend who went from playing games to analyzing them, applied his knowledge of baseball and its players to the telecast.

So what kind of analyst will Love be?

“That’s one of the first questions that came up,” he said. “I have opinions. I just have to learn when to say things. [Retired NBC analyst] Johnny [Miller] was really good at [what to say and when to say it]. I learned a lot by watching him. My only problem is that I have to get my thoughts more concise.”

Don’t expect Love to be another Miller, though. Johnny was one of a kind.

That doesn’t mean Love won’t be critical when a moment warrants it, though.

“Even watching Tiger this past weekend [at the Zozo Championship], I was wondering why someone maybe didn’t say certain things,” he said. “And there have been times when I’ve called the truck when they missed something.”

It should help, too, that Love has relationships with many of today’s young players, through his two stints as Ryder Cup captain, the tour’s RSM Classic, which he is host of at Sea Island Golf Club, and through his 25-year-old son, Dru.

“I know the courses and the players, and there might be a situation when I might have played with a guy the week before and saw he was struggling with his chips, so I’ll be able to convey that,” Love said. “I’ll know what’s going on. That’s why Romo is so good. He went right from playing to the booth, and I’m going to talk to him about how I transfer that knowledge to the fans. He’s one of the best at it.”

To CBS, so is Love.

“Davis is one of the most accomplished and respected players in the game of golf,” Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said in a statement. “With his playing experience, reputation and relationships across the golf community, he brings a unique perspective and insight that will enhance our broadcasts. Davis is the perfect fit for CBS, and we look forward to him making the best broadcast team in golf even better.”