PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — Gary McCord has opinions. Not breaking any news here, but the long-time golf commentator is one of those guys that if you can get a microphone in front of, chances are you’re going to get a few gems.
The recent Arizona Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the Class of 2023 at Paradise Valley Country Club was a chance for many decision-makers, influencers, players past and present and more to mingle, and McCord was among the attendees.
Wearing a slick, patterned white sport coat and his signature mustache, McCord, 75, was first asked the obvious question: Why are you here?
“Peter,” he said. “Kostis. We’re buddies. We were at CBS for 30 something years. I brought him here to Arizona.”
Kostis was one of four inductees in the Class of ’23, including former PGA Tour player Howard Twitty as well as Judy McDermott and Wade Dunagan, two stakeholders who were influential in the grass roots of the game in southern Arizona.
McCord seemingly knows everyone, but it was Kostis that McCord spoke the most about. Does he remember the first time they met?
“Yea. We were doing the Ryder Cup in 1989. Can’t remember where it was,” he admitted. “It was a road game. We had a team over there for USA Network and he was on the team and so we started hanging.”
Did the two of you two hit it off right away?
“Yea. I knew him from the Tour and him teaching a lot of the guys,” McCord said. “He got tired of Florida so I called him and I said ‘You wanna come down [to Arizona]? I got a new place called Grayhawk. I’m going to start a golf school there, and I have no idea what to do.
“He said ‘Let me think about it’, and then he said ‘Yea, I’ll do it’ and he moved out here.”
Here’s the rest of Golfweek‘s chat with Gary McCord.
Is this Hall of Fame induction long overdue?
GM: You never know if someone is overdue. It’s so political. Whoever checks the boxes. But of course he deserves it. He’s been part of the heirarchy of golf teaching in schools. He was one of the five guys who started the Golf Digest schools.
GWK: What impact did he leave on golf broadcasting?
GM: What he did was, when you’re teaching live, you gotta pick something out that that guy just did in a nanosecond and then they throw it right back to you and you’re communicating now with the guys in truck and it’s like ‘Watch this, this is what he’s doing, this is why he’s hanging it to the right’, and you gotta do it (snaps fingers) that fast. You gotta do it succinctly. Your picture’s gotta be painted in two seconds and he was brilliant at that, brilliant at reading a guy’s golf swing and finding out why he’s going good or why he’s going bad. Other guys [on TV] will flounder and they’ll give you 10,000 things to look at. He was good at that.
What's your take on the state of golf broadcasting today?
GM: Well, it’s changed its approach. You could see it a long time ago. It’s more about the graphics and about the analytics and everything else than trying to figure out if the guy’s choking his guts out. When we were out there, there wasn’t graphics, there wasn’t shotlink. We were just going along, having fun, having at it. Now, it’s just constantly lower-third of the screen filled with graphics.
GWK: Is it too much, are they trying to hard, with all the bells and whistles?
GM: They’re just trying to evolve. Whether that’s reverse evolution or evolution, I don’t know, but it’s different than it used to be.
GWK: Give us a couple names of people that you think are good at it.
GM: I got Colt Knost in the business. [David] Feherty, I got him in the business, too. Another guy who’s very good on the mic, he’s doing Sirius radio, guy named Drew Stoltz, Sleeze, everyone calls him Sleeze.
Were you surprised Feherty went to LIV?
GM: Feherty, he went to the evil world of LIV. … one thing if you know about David Feherty is he does not give a s – – t about money. And he did it for the money (laughs) and I’m still trying to figure it out.
He called me one day and he wanted me to go over there. He told Greg ‘I want Gary to come on the broadcast’ so I was involved with them for a long time, just decided not to do it. But David…
GWK: You were involved in negotiations to go to LIV, you’re saying?
GM: Norman and I were talking, yea. But I’m too old to go to Bangkok, too old to go to Riyadh, too old to go to Adelaide.
The concept of LIV Golf, the existence of it, you're not opposed to it?
GM: Well, I think all it did was excite the riot in golf. It excited the riot. It created a lot more revenue streams for a lot more players so in the long run, it’s good, it’s good for the shakeup of the business. You can see what’s going on. And nobody knows what’s going on but the one thing is players are getting a lot more money.
GWK: Do you ultimately see a merger between the two or are we going to see two leagues competing?
GM: I don’t know. It’s so fractured right now. I don’t know. The big thing, the calling card, is the world golf ranking points. That is holding LIV from doing anything, but if they get that, it’s a whole new ballgame.
What's it going to take for the U.S. to win a road game Ryder Cup?
GM: They can’t. (chuckles) They can’t. I don’t know, I don’t know. I mean, after 30 years you’d think they’d come across something and figure out how to do it. They’re not even close.
Instead of the top 12 guys, let’s go to the bottom, take the bottom 12, and see how they do it.
GWK: Not to bag on Zach [Johnson] but is it a captain issue or is it a players running the show issue?
GM: It kinda looks like that. It looks like a boys club to me. Invite your buddies over and let’s go play some golf, see if we can beat them. In that respect, there’s the camaraderie thing but man they gotta figure out something. Get guys who like to go over there and throw punches.
GWK: Maybe Tiger should be captain next time out.
GM: He wasn’t too good when he was there anyways. They need someone that’s going to excite the riot over there.