August 4, 2020
San Francisco, California, USA
Harding Park Golf Club
JEN SABATELLE: Good morning, or good afternoon, depending on where you are. We miss being with you at the PGA media center this year and look forward to all being back together next year. Thank you for joining us as we preview the 102nd PGA Championship and discuss our multiplatform coverage for our first year in our 11-year partnership with The PGA of America and ESPN.
This year marks CBS Sports' 30th consecutive year broadcasting the PGA Championship. For the 30th edition, we will be in primetime highlighted by live third and final round coverage from Saturday 4:00 to 10:00 and Sunday from 3:00 to 9:00 PM from Harding Park.
For the 38th consecutive year, Jim Nantz will host the network's coverage from the 18th tower joined by lead analyst and six-time major champion Nick Faldo; Ian Baker Finch will call the action at 17; Frank Nobilo will be at 16; Dottie Pepper, Mark Immelman and Trevor Immelman will be on the course, with Amanda Balionis handling interviews.
CBS Sports Network will air PGA Championship Clubhouse Report live at the conclusion of play Thursday through Sunday. Kelly Tilghman hosts from Harding Park along with Colt Knost and Rich Beem. CBS Sports' broadcast coverage will be available to stream live on CBS All Access with additional content throughout the week and weekend on CBS Sports HQ, CBSSports.com, as well as CBS Sports' social handles.
Also leading into coverage on CBS on Saturday, we'll host a special edition of "We Need To Talk" focusing on the PGA Championship.
Before we take questions, we'll go first to Sean McManus with an opening comment.
SEAN McMANUS: I'll keep my opening remarks very brief. It's been an incredible run for CBS Sports. We are entering our ninth week in a row of golf coverage, and I think everyone is free with all of the -- that we've experienced. I think everybody knows that we've been doing this with basically half our on-site crew and having technical assistance coming from all over the world, including California, Florida, Stamford, Connecticut and New Zealand.
I think our coverage has been terrific. It's been seamless and I couldn't be prouder of the job that everyone has done under the most difficult of circumstances, and now we come into a production that is really four times as complex as any PGA beforehand, both in terms of the people on site, in terms of the programming hours. It's way more than four times the amount, and it's obviously -- with The PGA of America, which we are very excited about. It's our first year of partnership with ESPN. It's the first year we'll together be providing coverage from the first tee shot to the last putt on all four days. There are various feeds that we're producing during these hours, also. We're doing the PGA Championship for the first time ever in primetime which I think will be terrific from a ratings standpoint and branding standpoint and positioning standpoint for The PGA of America.
We've got live drone coverage for the first time at the PGA Championship, and we've got a lot of bells and whistles. Sales, as of this morning, we had very few units left, and for the first time ever, half of our commercial positions will be two-boxed with -- 50 percent of the national commercials will have the two-box, so we will not be missing any live action, which I think is great for the fans, valuable for the sponsors and I think it's really going to help our telecast move along.
So those are the highlights of the relationship with The PGA of America and ESPN. Obviously we are facing a lot of similar issues we've faced on the other PGA Tour events we've done. The health and safety of our crew is of the utmost importance. We're still practicing social distancing whether it's in our navs booth or production trucks. There is testing and screening going on so everybody is safe. Not only are we producing 12 or 13 hours of coverage every single day for all four days, but we are also doing so under pretty tough conditions. I feel that our team is ready and we are going to have a really good tournament. The announcers can talk about the different story lines going into the PGA Championship.
I am not making the trip for the first time to the PGA Championship but I am watching every minute and will be in regular contact with Harold Bryant, our executive producer, and Lance Barrow. Thank you for this time and excited for the week.
JEN SABATELLE: You said half of our commercials will be the Eye on the Course, just to reiterate.
SEAN McMANUS: That is correct.
Q. For Jim and Nick. We've heard from some players about how they will be affected by the lack of spectators at the event. But how are you impacted by it, and to what degree do you feed off that energy for your broadcast?
JIM NANTZ: Sam, first off, it's good to hear your voice, and it's going to be a great weekend. Can't wait to have the four days here with our team and teaming up with ESPN.
We have had eight weeks of this template with no fans. Now, this will be the first time I'm going to have Nick on the road sitting in the tower, so I'm doubly excited about that, being able to make eye contact as we are broadcasting a tournament, and many hours.
But I've got to say, this is a nod to Lance and our production team and our technical team. It feels very normal to me while we are on the air. Now, when I'm on my way to getting to the tower to broadcast and I'm on the grounds of these courses with limitations, because there's certain bubbles that we are not allowed to approach -- and so in all these weeks, these last two months, I have not been in a clubhouse. I have not been on a range. I have not been that locker room. I have not talked to a player face-to-face. I have not been in the CBS compound for two months. I have not seen Lance, even though we have been doing the same tournaments, since Colonial in early June, even though we have been staying in the same hotel. We have not even coincidentally run into each other on an elevator. That part of it is bizarre.
Again, all the stuff on the fringe, it's unusual, bizarre, really. When you look at and watch a competition going on and there are no fans, it looks like just another day at a golf course. You don't realize there's a tournament going on. Then you put the headset on and you take the feed that's coming out of the truck and you see the way that it's embellished with great visuals and drones and blimps and graphics and replays and the music and all of this, it feels normal. Put the headset on, you get on the air. Our presentation has made it, I believe, for the public feel like it's completely normal. But I'm just telling you, when you're there in person, it's not normal.
That's a credit to -- I love my teammates. I'm just proud to be a small part of it. But what Lance and the team have done, it's remarkable, and I know people say, ah, you're just sticking up for your teammates. No, they deserve it. Only 35 years of doing things under true normal conditions. These presentations have been fantastic. It's not going to be any different this week. It's just going to have more of that air coming across to people of the importance of the fact that we finally have a major championship to present in golf in 2020.
The difference for me overall, one difference, that Frank and Ian and Nick, as I mentioned being in the tower, that they are going to be on site. Other than that, we have a pretty good system down led by our production team.
SIR NICK FALDO: I'll add, after eight weeks of calling it from the studio, we have done an amazing job how we've lost peripheral vision, which normally we have -- when you look on the TV screen, you can see the crowds, the fans, and obviously fairways and players, but we seem to have zoomed in a little closer and it made us really lean in, and obviously we are waiting for -- I'd say the bottom line is that I think we've lost the peripheral vision and gone and we really do focus on the players.
As you know, we're trying to lean right and listen to what they are saying as much as possible, and I think we have really snap-focused on their character, and you watch the pressure mount. It must be incredible the different feeling -- I can't describe it. I haven't played without a crowd for moons over most of my career.
We've seen some players embrace it. Some are still struggling with it. So bottom line, with this now, a major, I think they have had eight weeks of this, so it's not going to come as a shock, and I think the fact it's a major, the PGA, it will be there, it will be amped up and I think we'll be able to see it and feel it through the camera.
Q. At the risk of asking Sean and getting a broken-up answer, I need him to maybe review some of the things he said about the broadcast in primetime here in the east, the benefits of that for the network and for the PGA, and also, maybe again, I understand the 50 percent national ads in the two-box, but I think he was saying something else about national ads, as well, and I didn't get that, either.
SEAN McMANUS: I'll give it a shot. I had said that half of our national commercials will be two-boxed, which I think is great for the viewer and great for the broadcast. Our sales have been very brisk. As of this morning, we only had a couple of units to sell.
Doing it in primetime, it's showcase. Anytime you do a sporting event in primetime, there's more energy. The audience should be larger in primetime and it's never been done before with the PGA Championship, so we have a lot of firsts this week, but that's a first --
Q. Maybe Jim can jump in.
JIM NANTZ: We are not doing to do anything any different than the way that we do it all the time. You're not going to try to take it up another level. That means the week before we should have been trying a little harder.
We come off a great event at Memphis, which had a spectacular leaderboard, and about an hour ago, we had eight players within one shot of the lead and I think a lot of those same names are going to be in contention here.
I love the fact -- I'm going to talk as a fan here, I know you want to hear Sean's take here, but 50 percent Eye on the Course, that's a big deal. I don't know how many commercial breaks we have over the course of -- we have commitments of five-hour windows and beyond. But you start adding up those, again, I don't even know the length of the breaks for the PGA Championship, I'm going to guess somewhere around two and a half to three minutes. You start adding up how many shots you're going to be able to see now that you don't have to come back and get behind on tape, showing people live. Start multiplying, two-and-a-half minute window -- Lance, looking at you, you're talking about an extra six or seven shots for commercial break you're going to be able to show and that could be an extra 35, 40 golf shots per hour or more. That's a tremendous benefit to us.
I was listening to Nick answer Sam's question. I think the audio has gone to a new level with the absence of fans. We are able to eavesdrop more into these conversations between player and caddie more than ever before. Again, our technical and production teams have done a great job of bringing that into the broadcast. That's one, really, I think big boost and benefit that's come out of these weeks without the fans on site. We love the fans, but we have definitely seen the audio quality from the players and the caddies improve.
Q. You said something about the minute, and then you cut out, and then I don't know if you remember what that thought was.
SEAN McMANUS: What was I talking about?
JEN SABATELLE: About being in primetime for the first time.
SEAN McMANUS: Well, I was just saying that anytime you do a sporting event in primetime, there's more sizzle to it. There's more energy to it. When the announcement was made that Harding Park was going to be hosting this year's PGA Championship, we didn't even have a television deal through that time. We went to our West Coast program department and said we'd like to commit the PGA, assuming we'd secure the rights and have a new deal, and primetime going until ten o'clock on Saturday night and nine o'clock on Sunday night, leaving time for a playoff. I think it's very beneficial for the ratings. I think more people are obviously watching television in the evening than they are during the day, and I think it's going to be a really good showcase for the PGA Championship.
Primetime golf is very rare. As you know, the U.S. Open on occasion when it's on the West Coast is in primetime but the PGA Championship has never had this opportunity and it has it now, which we're excited about.
Just to finish on the two-box, the two-box gives you an enormous opportunity, because if you're away from the golf for 90 seconds or two minutes or two and a half minutes, you've got a number of golf shots that you need to make up when you come back -- seven shots, it's just difficult to catch up. So not only is it a benefit for the viewer to be able to see live golf throughout the commercials, it's an incredibly beneficial aspect and a big assist for the production team, also.
So we are very happy that our sales team has come through for us with this development.
Q. To Lance, congrats on the career and enjoy the rest of it. Jim and Nick, I've watched a decent amount over the past eight weeks and it really has not seemed too odd that you guys have not been together. How have you managed to keep the rapport going thousands of miles away from each other, and Dottie, how has not had not having fans affected you as an on-course reporter?
DOTTIE PEPPER: From my perspective, you have to be a little more careful about where you stand, where the wind is blowing because you can't hide up against a wall of fans. You have to be more sensitive to how much you are moving, if you are across the line from a player. You kind of have to have eyes on all sides of your head in order to not be in a position to disrupt play.
But I think we've done a remarkable job of patching together through the audio and making on-course and the 18th and 17th and 16th towers be so seamless, and hats off to our technical crew because they have been outstanding. We have gotten out on the golf course every day to rehearse earlier to make sure that we are able to hear each other and do this as we normally would do and there's been no delay. It's been really outstanding.
SIR NICK FALDO: From Orlando, it's been an eye-opening experience for us; the fact that we sit in the same corner of the studio, I'm the only one that comes on camera but I have Ian and Frank right here and we have been slowly positioning things because we have been physically in contact, which has worked really well because we think we have created a lot better timing. If I'm talking about something, and I can literally see Ian -- and I said, oh, Ian has got something he wants to add. So we are bouncing off each other. So I think, you know, for the future, we really have learnt a really good lesson that maybe we will, who knows what will happen for the future.
Bottom line, the communication has been very good. It's been a little difficult with Jim. You can't sense when somebody is talking. Obviously we can feel it when we are right there, or we can actually grab ahold of each other if either we want to stop or go, so we've stood on each other's toes a couple too many times, so it makes us cringe, but hey, considering we have been in all, a couple of thousands of miles apart, I think it's gone pretty well. We've put it together, and as I said, it's going to be interesting and we are already talking about the future. Who knows how we will be doing it in a couple years' time.
DOTTIE PEPPER: We've been able to use a data sharing platform that we can all get this information at the same time; if it comes from the Tour or from The PGA of America, from our spotters, our entire on-ground staff and behind the scenes, we are able to share information in realtime, whether it's stats or something that's big picture about what's happening.
So with Justin Thomas, with four holes to go, a chance to become No. 1 again last week, we are all able to get that information at the same time in one place. So there's no question of whether it's true or having to double-check. It's coming from a reliable source from internal and it's been so cool to have that at all of our fingertips at the same time.
Q. Just confirming you guys have been in the Golf Channel studios in Orlando?
SIR NICK FALDO: Yeah, we've done eight weeks. It's our first week out into the big wide world.
Q. One question for Lance, one question for Dottie. For Dottie, if you have been on the golf course thus far this week, what do you think, and for Lance, what have these last couple weeks been like for you, and how will it be different with, I would assume, additional crew members to help staff all these hours on TV? Thanks.
DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I have been on the golf course. I walked nine holes of the back nine this morning, and it is mean. It is wet. The rough is extremely long. The greens are firm. The wind did come up a little bit. The thing the players were talking about most this morning was a, the rough; b, how wet that rough is right now; c, the difference in temperature. This has been a really hot eight weeks that we've covered leading into this, and there's a 30-, 40-degree drop in temperature that they are experiencing this morning, and everyone was talking a lot about that.
But when that happens, the golf ball is not flying as far. You've got a golf course that's set up extremely difficult, and it's just going to be a huge test. The penalty for missing out here is big, especially off the tee. It's not unlike last week, what we saw in Memphis, where if you draw a bad lie on a difficult golf course, you're going to pay for it.
I think it's going to be an attitude adjustment to embrace the weather, to embrace the golf course, and this is going to be the toughest test these guys have faced so far.
LANCE BARROW: As Jim Nantz said earlier, the few weeks we have been on the Tour, I guess eight weeks now, you know, it's been weird because we have all been isolated and those sort of things, and we are still in that format because of safety.
But you know, one thing good about golf and one thing great about golf, the more equipment that you get, not the easiest it gets, but it gets a little bit easier because you know you're covering every hole, every shot, and that's what you're supposed to do.
So to have more people and have more people and more equipment, that's a positive thing for us. I mean, along with ESPN, we have been planning this for many, many months, once we thought we would be doing this golf tournament, the PGA Championship, and it's a real tribute to our operations department, our production department, and everyone, really, at CBS Sports and CBS, period, to have such a major event happening this week. Looking forward to seeing all those cameras and tape machines pop up in our TV truck covering this great event.
JIM NANTZ: This might take this whole discussion another place, which Dottie, I think would be great for you to comment on.
I believe that what the headline is going into this week, television and production and how we do all that, which has been discussed, but I think we are -- no other sport can say this right now except for us: We are about to enter, starting Thursday, the greatest stretch of golf in the history of the game. Now, let that sink in for a moment; how do you lay claim to that. And it's because of the reworked schedule. Can't say this about any other sport, I believe, but starting on Thursday, in an 11-month stretch, we are going to have seven major championships. We are going to have the Playoffs. That includes two Masters, two PGA Championships, beginning Thursday, THE PLAYERS Championship.
And if you're hot, if your game -- and we see the players who are hot right now, just look at the winners. We have had incredible winners these first eight weeks. Everyone who has won has won at least one time before they had a victory here in the return. Michael Thompson hadn't won before; Morikawa hadn't won before he won the Workday. But you look at our champions, who is winning, Justin Thomas, go right down the list, Jon Rahm. If your game is on go right now, you have a chance to make a career into the next 11 months, starting on Thursday.
So for the game, the way that golf adapted, and I give a nod to Jay Monahan because I really believe he was the one that brought everyone together, all the organizations worked in concert and I think Jay spearheaded it. Best I can tell, he is the guy that kind of made everything fit into this puzzle.
But to have a stretch of golf, you get four in a year usually. We are going to have seven in 11 months, plus, again, THE PLAYERS, the Playoffs, all that. It's an amazing stretch for the game. That to me is what we need to be talking about right now.
This is an exciting beginning starting at Harding Park. This is a tremendous time for the game and what a time it is for the premier players. If their game is in a good place, I mean, you could see somebody take two, three, you know, who knows, maybe four of these seven majors. I don't think that's what's going to happen. I think it's too level at the top. There are too many great players. But it's a chance to build a resumÃ© and make it a career starting on Thursday, and that to me is the story.
Q. And there's also a Ryder Cup plus the whole Olympics.
JIM NANTZ: Well, it's not in that window. Obviously that doesn't fall in this 11-month window, but I'm talking about between now and The Open Championship next July, from Harding Park to The Open, what's going to happen in that little window, the game has never had that before, and likely will never have a scenario like this again. There's a lot there. There's tonnage of championships, massively important events.
I'm excited. I'm excited the way golf has pulled this off. I'm thrilled the way CBS has been asked to come back and present the return in trying conditions, and we're in a rhythm and flow of it now going into our ninth week, ninth consecutive week. But I'm talking about the players. I'm talking about the game. The world of golf is entering a stage here in San Francisco that the sport will never see again, and I don't know that any other sport will ever see a condensed, compressed window of high-stakes like this sport is about to embark on.
It's an important thing for us who are documenting the sport and who love the sport and care about it, and we try to make sure that we reach the fringe fan and people that maybe aren't fully aware of what's going on in golf. That's a big story to tell. It's a big headline. The game right now is going on the most exciting, challenging, demanding, rewarding stretch in the history of the sport, and I'm thrilled. I'm just so excited we are going to be there for four of the first five of these majors. We're going to have the first leg of the Playoffs coming up soon. We have two PGAs and two Masters in that window and I know a lot of other TOUR events. It's an exciting time.
Q. Kiawah was eight years ago for the PGA, and the guys, even in that short span, are hitting it so much further than they did eight years ago. How do you think The Ocean Course will handle the longer distances the guys are hitting? Sorry to make you look ahead.
DOTTIE PEPPER: You have the ability to make that golf course be anything you want it to be. You can move tees, you can move angles; they're all there. The one thing you cannot control that drives the players craziest most is the weather, and you know how it can howl out there and how you can be shooting an extremely low number and everybody is doing the same thing.
I think it's going to do just fine. The margins of what's successful and not successful on that golf course are probably as small as anyplace, anywhere. But there's room to grow with the golf ball as distances change. There's room to put in bunkers and bring in more of what scares you about that golf course into play in a pretty reasonable manner, but that golf course stands on its own and it has for decades.
SIR NICK FALDO: And it will be warm and have firm greens; that's the most important thing is the firmness in the greens. You cannot hit it in the rough, and the rough is wild there, which is very important.
You know, you watch these last couple of weeks, we had many a time -- last week had five holes under 420 yards, which 420 is short now for these guys, and they all held up really well. I think by setting up the golf courses, the ruling bodies, they know all about this distance now, so setting up the golf course is very important and punishment with the right amount of rough in the right place. I don't think you can just pound away. You've got to think about it. I'm sure there will be an advantage here and there on some golf courses, but I think by setting up the courses up really well, we can still defend the guys who are now hitting it 400 yards.
Q. Dottie, there seems to be a comfortableness that you have out there, not that you weren't comfortable before, but the back-and-forth with Jim that I've seen at some of the tournaments without fans, very much at ease this year. Can you talk to that a little bit?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Well, I'm glad you've noticed, I guess, first of all. I think there's a good rapport amongst all of us.
But walking in that last group, I've got I think a comfortable rapport with a lot of the players, a lot of the caddies. They see me out there working hard. They know that I've prepared properly and I think maybe that flows back into the way I'm able to communicate back with the team. There's more of an ease out there, and there are just a lot of live golf shots happening in those groups that I happen to be walking with, and it's been an exciting time.
So if you can't get excited about walking with some of those players that I've been blessed to be with this week or this year, you're kind of in the wrong business. But I appreciate you noticing the difference.
Q. Jim, a question for you, just to take it back real quickly to the tournament in Memphis. A lot of golf fans were touched by having the kids out last week, Dakota obviously standing out quite a bit. Were you surprised how much traffic that really made as far as the social media presence?
JIM NANTZ: Well, I think everybody was touched. I can't speak to the traffic on social media because I don't monitor it, but I can tell from my colleagues on site who set all this up, it was a tremendous game plan.
I can't get it out of my mind how inspired I was by the four kids who came on the air. You mentioned Dakota. He was the first one up, and then Ally was after that, followed by Bailey and then Reed on Sunday.
I just think on Saturday broadcast, we had three of these kids come on and it was a lasting impression of a great golf tournament. I'm happy to hear that there was such positive traction. You can always pick up on what people think the buzz is, and I'm glad there was. These kids were just amazingly poised.
I heard about the plan from Sellers Shy, who is involved on his own personally with St. Jude and he lives in Memphis. This idea was in play when I got to Memphis on Friday morning. You know, I didn't know exactly how this was all going to work out, but Sellers and his team did, and I got to the tower on Saturday three hours before the broadcast. We can't go anywhere, and I'm not someone that likes to sit in my hotel room. We can't even work out in the fitness room. It's either you go to the tower or stay in your room. That's what it's been like for eight weeks on the road. All of your meals are in your room, etc., etc. I go out early just to watch the golfers go through, prepare some notes.
The team put the kids up before we came on the air, and I had a chance to have kind of a pre-interview with them to find out their interest level in golf. I was told in all four cases their interest level was high, and I knew a couple had been at the tournament the year before, specifically Dakota and Reed. I remember them from being there last year, and I met both of them a year ago just off-camera. But it just is one of those things that somebody comes up with an idea, then it gets executed and you just think, man, that was something new and fresh and impactful without question.
The St. Jude Research Center, as we all know, it's an amazing thing and it's 100 percent, everything is taken care of, every last dollar of travel and care for the families. It's an amazing endeavor started by Danny Thomas. I mentioned Danny's name a number of times on the air this weekend. Heroes like that who are long gone I think sometimes we need to remember, and I was lucky enough to be able to meet him on several occasions in my early years of working at CBS because we did the Memphis tournament back in the day. It was great.
I'm so glad you brought it up, Dan and I think that opens up some ideas for maybe you could do something similar to that at some other tournaments, like maybe even at the Memorial Tournament, Nationwide Children's Hospitals, so tied to what Jack and Barbara are doing. As everyone knows, they have dedicated their lives now; the second act in their life is greater than the first, opening up all these children's hospitals around the world. I heard from Barbara Nicklaus while we were on the air a couple of times she texted me, by the way. She was so touched by what she saw.
It was a great thing. Hats off to our teammates who had an idea, had a vision and executed it. We are all the better for it.
Q. The ratings for the PGA TOUR had a been pretty consistently up with the exception of The Heritage. What do you think it is about the PGA Tour's comeback in particular that has allowed it to maintain this double-digit growth when a lot of other leagues, they might get a big increase for their first event back but then kind of slide back to normal. And that question can go to anybody.
SEAN McMANUS: I would say one of the benefits, I only got about half the question, but if it's about the television ratings, the consistency of what we have presented for the first eight weeks: The time periods have been generally the same; the crew, the on-camera crew has been the same and I think we've built up some momentum. I think we have been fortunate to have really good fields, especially for the first few events that we had, and I think that helped. I think just the desire of television viewers and sports fans to watch live content -- and let's remember the first individual sport to come back in a big way was obviously the PGA Tour, and I think people really missed it in March, April and in May. I think they were ready for it when it came back.
And the fact that you knew where the golf was and what time it was each and every one of those first eight weeks, I think allowed us to build a consistent audience. As I said at the beginning of the call, I think our ratings are up about 25 percent for these first eight events compared to the events last year. I think it's been a good story and it's reinforced why we were so intent on renewing our PGA Tour rights, because the content is good and the viewership is good. We are riding a little crest of a wave right here, I really believe that.
Q. Early in your broadcast career, do you have any memories of calling games without any spectators or very little spectators?
JIM NANTZ: Yeah, actually a few times. Early, really early in my career, I was on one of the outer towers -- in fact, just take Memphis. Back in the '80s, I would call the action from 15, even this course at TPC Southwind, 15th hole is a very quiet cove where if you breathe, somebody down on the green can hear you. I remember one year, Pat and Kenny, Summerall and Venturi, were in the 18th tower and I can remember being in the 15th at Memphis and I distracted a player, and I was trying to drop my voice as much as I could, and there were no fans around there. A lot of times on these outer holes it's much more sparse than you might imagine.
And the other thing I can relate it to is sometimes in the NCAA tournament, the opening-round games, you have a doubleheader in the afternoon and a doubleheader in the evening, so it's a four-game day. And oftentimes, the 12 o'clock game at a given site might have two schools that are not geographically close by. There's no proximity, there's no fans that are traveling with them and those games have, a number of times, many time, have been called -- which is atypical of college hoops. College hoops you're used to all the excitement, the frenzy and the fans and that energy you feed off of, but I've had a lot of basketball games through the NCAA Tournament over the years, early in the rounds, where it's mostly an empty arena.
Q. Thank you.
JIM NANTZ: We are getting used to it. We are getting used to it because we've got all this experience here and we have football around the corner.
Q. Ken Venturi won his last PGA TOUR event at Harding Park. Curious if you talked about Harding Park and what this win meant to him.
JIM NANTZ: All the time. It was the 1966 Lucky International that he won. It meant the world to him because that's where he grew up. I'm fishing around here for my latest Golf Digest column, but I wrote all about Ken in this months' issue about that very thing, about how much Ken is going to be remembered at Harding Park. His mom and dad ended up taking on jobs running the pro shop, signing people up for greens fees and carts and selling hot dogs and Cokes at the turns, basically running the halfway house, signing people up for their rounds. It's the first place Kenny ever played and last place he ever won a tournament. He'll be very much on my mind. I'll be channelling Ken -- I said to him when he retired on June 2, 2002, that as long as I'm sitting in this tower, he will be always by my side, which ended up becoming the name of a book that I wrote about my dad years later, "Always by My Side."
So I think of Ken all the time, been the luckiest guy in the world, working for great people, like Nick and Dottie who are on the call right now. That was a generational thing; he was old enough easily to be my father and I loved the guy.
When this tournament was originally scheduled for May through the 17th, it was to me very fitting had it been played on those dates because Ken was born on May 15. My birthday was May 17, and over those years, we made a lot out of May 16th. We would middle it and we'd have an epic birthday celebration, and that would have fallen on those dates, and lastly, he ended up dying on May 17 of 2013, died on my birthday, May 17, and that would have been the final round of the PGA.
If only he could have lived to see this municipal course he grew up on where his mom and dad were there all day long, signing people up for greens fees, running the snack stand, that one day would evolve thanks to people like Sandy Tatum and the PGA TOUR had a dream for building, accentuating a municipal course out west. To turn this into a facility now that can host a world's best major championship for the first time, he should have been here for this one. It would have been a great source of pride for him I know.
Q. You guys have just done an amazing job here in the restart and wondering with it being a major, and I guess maybe for Lance and Harold, but what other things are you going to be able to do kind of gizmo-wise, visual-wise, that you haven't been able to do yet so far this year?
HAROLD BRYANT: We will have our 4-D replay system out there. I think that's a pretty cool enhancement we always bring back to the PGA Championship. We will have a 700-foot Flycam in the range and practice area. We will have our tracers and ARLs and all our virtual technology covering all of the course, and that's being operated out of New Zealand. The majority of it is out of New Zealand.
So we will have all of the bells and whistles and the big one is the drone. We've been able to take a drone over the course and capture visuals in different perspective. I've put up a virtual background; you can see the compound behind me. This is going to be as good or better than any PGA Championship we've covered with the cameras and full allotment that we've got on site.
Lance, anything else I'm missing?
LANCE BARROW: Sounds great.
Q. Sitting in the fog today, the drone will come in handy.
HAROLD BRYANT: Yes, it will.
Q. Lance, this being your 30th PGA, is there a highlight of the 29 you've done?
LANCE BARROW: I will say obviously the first one with John Daly, Crooked Stick. That was a lot of fun to be a part of and the history part of it.
Obviously the first one I got to produce was '97 at Winged Foot. That was with Davis Love, with Justin Leonard and my friendship with Davis and being able to watch him win and knowing how much it meant to his family because of his dad being a longtime professional for The PGA of America, and losing him tragically in that plane crash; and seeing his mom come out to hug him and having the rainbow behind him, I think about those moments a lot.
Obviously being involved with all of Tiger's wins, being a part of that. That's something that Frank Chirkinian and Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, and I've been fortunate enough to see it as a producer; I mean, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and now the younger brigade that's coming after them. You pick your favorites, sometimes it's like picking your favorite child is the way I look at it. They have all been great and I'm blessed to have been a part of it.
Q. How would you describe the character of the PGA?
SIR NICK FALDO: The character of the PGA, yeah, it's a lot to do how the golf course is set up. They always have a slightly different style to them, and obviously the field is always great. And hey -- well, we are back to the normal time of year because we swapped to try to go to May.
I think probably as a player, it's the setup. Kerry Haigh has done a great job in recent years. I haven't been on the golf course yet; I'm not allowed out yet. As Dottie has described it, that's going to create the character of the event and how they really are looking for tee-to-green as being a really important priority to the scorecard this week.
I think just to add, it's been so weird, isn't it, when a guy comes up the last to win and it's just him and that whole emotion -- we can see on their face, we can see them breathing, huffing and puffing. Coming up those last few holes, trying to win a major, you and your caddie trying to look after yourselves, creating your own intensity, your own emotion. It will be fascinating.
DOTTIE PEPPER: I think one of the hallmarks of the PGA setup is it's always left you with an opportunity. It hasn't always been a golf course where if you missed a shot, it hasn't been true faults. You've had an opportunity to hit a shot. I think that will happen out here this week, as well.
If you drive it in the rough, you could get lucky. You could be busted but you could get lucky, and I think that's what Kerry over the years has really tried to give the players the option, to try to be a hero or have the golf course come up and bite you, and I think this particular golf course has such a good balance of short and long, and the golf course moving in both directions, that it's going to present itself really well. You've got a par-3 at the 17th, just a beast of a par-4 to finish on, which 317 yards to cover on the left-hand side over the cypress just to get into the fairway on the most aggressive line, and what could conceivably be a drivable par-4 at 16 and not one that's been changed from -- its character has not been changed. It can just be a drivable 4. I think you're going to see a golf course that continues The PGA of America's tradition of a well-balanced, give-you-a-chance setup.
JIM NANTZ: I would say that the PGA Championship, the aura of it, all of us that are on this call, every one of us on this call, answering questions, we are in the storytelling business, and I think that the PGA has been sneaky great and vastly underrated when it comes to giving us storylines, creating setups and courses and players that have given us incredible stories to tell. It oftentimes gets overlooked.
I've been watching some of these old PGA Championship rewinds that we are running on CBS Sports Network, and look back at that 2018 PGA, which we did a rewind show of our own during the lockdown. How great was Bellerive, how great was that tournament, with Tiger charging and Brooks holding him off, and almost every year it's presenting some of the best scripts. I don't want to rank them. It doesn't get enough credit.
It doesn't happen by accident. It has to do with course setup, course selection, and this year, being the leadoff major of the year; sure, we don't have the fans, but I just have a really good feeling about this one. It's going to be a fantastic, fantastic, memorable tournament.
Q. I wanted to ask about seven majors in 11 months, or if you expand to 13 months, it's seven majors, an Olympics and a Ryder Cup. I know the proximity to players is not what it typically is, but how are the players kind of approaching this? Is this something that's in their minds or are they trying to be more laser focused and focus on one major, one weekend, one tournament?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I think the players have looked at the peaks of their schedule as they typically have: Where do I have to be prepared for; how do I best prepare to be ready at the max when these events come up. You have players play to different tournaments because of this new setup of the schedule, places they have not normally played in preparation for getting ready to play here, for getting ready to play at FedEx, for where they need to be able to focus their best play. I think that will just continue. You'll have players with red spots on the schedule; these are the highlights and how do I best prepare myself to be ready to play those weeks.
There was a vibe out there today walking nine holes. Players were grinding. It had a different feel than the rest of the tournaments have had.
SIR NICK FALDO: I think that's what we saw last year when it was the first time we started with THE PLAYERS in March, the Masters in April, PGA in May, U.S. Open, Open. So you started -- some guys got it wrong. They actually said they overplayed, underplayed, just trying to get that balance.
Now we know what they have got for the next 11 months. It's the mental game of plotting that, the mental stamina, the commitment. I would have thought if it was me, what an unbelievable opportunity. If you got on a roll, what could you do with that number of majors. You could have your whole career in 11 months. I actually would have loved it. I would have loved to have the opportunity to say, hey, everybody, I'm going go into my golfing bubble and really give it some serious commitment for 11 months and see how I come out of it at the end of it.
You've got to want and believe that if you gave it a hundred percent in every way you could, I'd like to just be exhausted, you know, in 12 months' time. I'll be quite happy to be exhausted for the following month and go sit on a beach. I would have loved this opportunity.
You pace yourselves and try and find as a performer, what do you like: Would I like to play one week before a major or two weeks? Could you play two weeks before, play the major and then have however long you're allowed, you can get off, maybe have one or two weeks off? So if that was the real priority and you like playing before them, the guys travel -- it's a different ballgame, as well, because players could go to majors prior and do some assessment. We never really did that in our day. We rolled up on the Saturday night at the earliest.
Now, as you know, they go the week before or a couple of weeks before. If you wanted to really plot it and make it your focus and you didn't know a venue, you could go a month before in your week off, have a couple of days, get acclimatized and go into competitive mode and play whatever you think is -- I think for me, I'd probably love to play two weeks before a major and have a good full week off, or might give you two weeks off in between them.
Everybody is different. As you know, some like to rest the week before. But wow, if you found your form there and it worked for you, somebody might do it. There's certainly a couple of guys good enough physically, technically and mentally to maybe have a streak of winning three out of seven, something like that. Who knows?
JIM NANTZ: The interesting part is that with Augusta being mid-November --
SIR NICK FALDO: Two goes at that, yeah.
JIM NANTZ: Then you come back around again, and how many players when you get to the West Coast Swing are already starting to build, build, for that spring run of THE PLAYERS and the Masters and the PGA in May, the season of majors you talk about. There's really not a chance, maybe holiday time around Christmas, but really not a chance where you can just kind of back off and put your clubs away for a long time.
DOTTIE PEPPER: Think you'll see some better fields in October, as players are trying to get ready to go to Augusta in the first half of November. I think players who had that time of the year where they hit the reset button, that's not going to be there this year.
Q. Just based on what we have seen from Harding Park from the past, how is the course going to be set up differently for the PGA Championship based on what people have seen from Harding Park in the past going back to the '60s and '70s and when Harding Park made its comeback?
SIR NICK FALDO: Dottie, you've walked it.
DOTTIE PEPPER: I have. I think if you look back at the 2009 Presidents Cup, there's a different routing. The 15th that was the -- the 18th as we see it this week was the 15th there. So it's been a little bit of an adjustment for me because I remember it from that setup, to go back out and walk it again today.
That particular week it was set up for excitement. It was match play. They were looking for where they thought matches might end. There was not nearly as much rough and the greens, I don't believe, were as firm as they are now being Tuesday of championship week. I think you'll see certainly what was there the last time the big world's eye was on this site. I think you'll see a meaner test.
There was also an American Express and WGC events here in the past and that was a stern test, too. But this is the real deal. There's the converted par-5 into a 4 that's over 500 yards. The wind is heavy as we would expect out here. It is a big-time test.
SIR NICK FALDO: Small greens, harder greens. I saw Ian Poulter posted a Tweet, gave us his quick rough analysis how you can get unfortunate, right there six inches to the left, it's absolutely buried. There will be plenty of times where guys will not be able to reach the green. They will probably be able to give it enough of a go to get close-ish, but that's usually what you get in a right mess when you try to force it to go for it. That only comes to discipline of when to go for it from the rough and when to really lay up and take your medicine. And it's narrow; narrow with firm greens, that's as good as it gets.
JIM NANTZ: I'll give the last word of my allotted time to Ken Venturi. He played it thousands of times. His career ringer score, 35-under par. He eagled every hole but one. I don't expect we're going to see low scores. But managed over a lifetime body of work to put up some great numbers.
In '66 playing in the Pro-Am, 8th hole, par-3, and he knocks it into the cup for a hole-in-one, place is going crazy, and Pro-Am partner says, "Who is that blankety-blank lady that just crawled underneath the gallery ropes and took your ball out of the cup?"
Ken looked at him and said, "If I'm not mistaken, I believe that's my mother." And it was. Prideful mom, Ms. Venturi, ran out on the green and took the ball out of the hole for Kenny. Maybe we'll have a few memorable moments like that this week. I hope so. Not quite like that but some great moments.
JEN SABATELLE: Thank you everyone for joining us and for bearing with us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports