Legendary TV producer Frank Chikinian passed away Friday after a long battle with cancer, Golf World's Tim Rosafore has reported. Chirkinian, who was 84, died at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Chirkinian, who in his role leading broadcasts at CBS, is widely credited for defining the way golf is broadcast on TV, was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in an emergency vote last month. In career at CBS that began with the 1958 PGA Championship, Chirkinian said the Hall vote was the highlight.
"Considering my current health situation, this has given me an incredible boost in my attitude toward life because this award is the most coveted in the game of golf," Chirkinian told Rosaforte on Feb. 9. "I am so proud to be a major part of that story."
Golf Digest Senior Writer Guy Yocom wrote a "My Shot" feature with Chirkinian in the September 2003 issue of the magazine. In it, Chirkinian described a cantankerous but singularly effective leadership style that earned him the nickname, "The Ayatollah."
"Make no mistake, if another Frank Chirkinian came along today, he could not survive," he told Yocom. "He would be deemed politically incorrect and would be run out of town. It's a different world today, and for me school was dismissed just in time."
CBS Sports issued a series of tributes in a statement Friday evening, including this from CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus:
"In his 38 years with CBS Sports, Frank Chirkinian's remarkable innovations and contributions have become the industry standard for the way we watch golf on television. Frank has left a legacy of excellence and creativity in golf broadcasting that will never be equaled and is a true Hall of Famer in all of sports television."
Said CBS' lead golf announcer Jim Nantz: "He was a friend, a mentor and a father figure to me. I was blessed to have his guiding hand extended to me at the age of 26. I am comforted knowing, as long as there is golf being televised any where in the world; Frank Chirkinian lives."
The network said it will honor Chirkinian in a tribute March during halftime of the Kansas-Missouri college basketball game.
-- Golf Digest Staff