Earlier this afternoon, FOX Sports President, COO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks, along with Coordinating Producer for FOX Sports’ golf studio and event coverage, Mark Loomis, introduced seven-time Emmy Award-winner Joe Buck and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Greg Norman as FOX Sports’ lead broadcast team when the network begins its USGA Championships coverage beginning in 2015. Below are highlights from today’s teleconference.
FOX Sports President, COO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks on the network putting its own brand and attitude on the golf events it covers –“First and foremost, you respect the sport. If you remember when we first got the NFL, a lot of people were thinking that we were going to come in and do something completely different. There was talk about having Bart Simpson in the booth calling the games, and we went out and got John Madden and Pat Summerall. Greg [Norman], just like John [Madden], will really set the philosophy for what we do here, and there’s probably no person I have met that hasn’t been a part of FOX Sports that seems like he should be part of FOX Sports more than Greg. We feel like there is already a connection between some of his thoughts and what the FOX Sports brand is. First and foremost it’s about the event, and there is no way that FOX Sports’ brand or FOX Sports’ attitude is going to be put above the USGA and the US Open brand.”
Joe Buck on why FOX Sports and the USGA make a good partnership – “I think I’ve been here long enough to know that today is a big day for FOX Sports. It says a lot about the USGA that they are willing to take this leap with us. Like I told [USGA President] Tom O’Toole, who I’ve known pretty much my whole life, he is going to be blown away, as will the golf world, with the effort and the ability that we’re going to throw at this. We’ll push golf coverage like FOX Sports pushed NFL coverage, MLB coverage and NASCAR coverage. It’s a good partnership both ways.”
Greg Norman on his broadcast style – “My objective is not to be criticizing golfers. My objective is to be fair and balanced. If I see something that I feel is very pertinent to the situation, I will explain that view to the audience, and I want it to be very fan-friendly and informative. Being informative is not sugar-coating the situation and not addressing some serious issues that could arise in the game of golf, which we have seen in the past. It’s incumbent upon myself and Joe and every other member of our team who has a microphone in their hand to have the confidence and the willingness to express themselves.”
Joe Buck on working with a new broadcast partner – “We’re not going to have the opportunity to feel our way. When we go on air at Chambers Bay, we’re doing the Super Bowl. We’re coming right out of the gate, and it doesn’t get any bigger. We’ve got to be ready, and we will be ready. We’re all going to spend time in June at Pinehurst to walk through exactly what is expected of us and go through the mechanics of calling a golf tournament, which I can’t wait to get into. The one thing that was obvious when Greg and I talked the other day, and I’ve always gone about it this way – if I have a great day in the booth, but my partner doesn’t have a good day, then overall we don’t have a good day. I don’t walk out of the booth feeling good about the broadcast, and certainly vice-versa. Greg and I are going to approach this as complete teammates, and what that means for me as far as the mechanics of broadcasting, the oddity of somebody talking in your ear while you’re covering something and you have two trains of thought, I’m there for him, and I’ll give him everything I’ve got.”
Coordinating Producer for FOX Sports’ Golf Event and Studio Coverage Mark Loomis on how FOX Sports will cover golf – “FOX Sports has proven over the years that we can always push technology to the next step, so I think there will be some real interesting opportunities for us to look at before we go on air. The other aspect is taking a fresh approach to golf coverage with a fresh group of people. Any time you put together a group that hasn’t been together before, you don’t have a ‘this is how we do it’ mentality; you have a ‘what’s the best way to do it’ mentality. That starts with the booth and goes all the way down to production and engineering, so I’m really excited for the next year to see how it grows. Our philosophy is to cover the event and to find new ways to tell the story.”
Greg Norman on Tiger Woods and his chance to pass legend Jack Nicklaus –“No, I do not see that happening. The older he gets, the younger these players get. You’ve got to remember too, the intimidation factor of that era of players that Tiger grew up in when he was 21 to 30 is not the same because he is now in his high 30s. Your brain is telling you, ‘yes, you can do it,’ but at the same time, your body is reacting a little bit different than it was in your hay days.”
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