Anytime Jim Nantz arrives at Augusta, he lets us know: this is a tradition unlike any other. But this Masters — his 38th — truly will be unlike any other. It’ll be the last time he ever experiences his Nantz-only version of Masters Week again.
When Nantz’s PJ touches down at Augusta Airport on Tuesday of tournament week, it will mark the official end of an era, the last time he will ever complete a (now-fabled) piece of sports media lore: his play-by-play trek from the Final Four to the Masters.
Yes, even though it isn’t technically a part of Masters week, Nantz’s springtime sporting dominance has also earned its own place in tournament lore. Nantz is living every sports fan’s wildest dream: he’s got the best seat in the house for both of the season’s biggest sporting events … and getting paid to do it.
That will all end with this year’s tournament, however, when Nantz gives up his March Madness seat upon the completion of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The famed broadcaster made the difficult decision to step away from his role at the tournament earlier this year, ceding the floor to CBS teammate Ian Eagle as Nantz turns his focus towards the Masters and more time with family.
“Listen, it’s always been a bit of a conundrum for me,” Nantz told GOLF. “When I’m at the Final Four, all anyone wants to talk to me about is the Masters. I get reminded of it just walking through a restaurant, walking down the street, walking through a lobby — who’s gonna win the Masters next week?“
But Nantz’s travel schedule isn’t the only broadcasting tradition in flux at this year’s Masters.
Below, we’ll get you ready for golf’s biggest week of the year with a FULL broadcast preview of everything you can expect to see on your TV (plus assorted streaming devices) from Augusta National next week. But let’s start with a bit more on Nantz, whose final song at the Big Dance is already underway. This is the Hot Mic — but this week it’s, if I may say, even hotter than usual. The Mega-Hot Mic. The Masters Mic. Enjoy!
“I get to Augusta as quickly as I can,” Nantz says. I’m querying him on the logistics that have allowed him to call the national championship game and the Masters in the same week for the better part of the last four decades. “I jump on a plane and often I’m there early Tuesday morning.”
It’s always a scramble for Nantz to get from the Final Four to Augusta, but this year should prove slightly more tolerable. The flight from Houston to Augusta should only take about two hours, leaving plenty of time on Tuesday and Wednesday for tournament prep — so long as those playing in the event want to help him.
“Usually I’m walking around trying to catch up, trying to get some face time with the top players,” Nantz says with a laugh. “But all they want to talk to me about is the basketball.”
“It’s never in sync.”
Nantz has long said that his goal is to call 51 Masters, a feat that would coincide with the 100th playing of the tournament in 2036. But why step off the gas on college basketball now? It’s complicated. Nantz wants to spend more time with his family, and between golf, football and basketball, it’s tough for him to spend much time at home. CBS’s down stretch between Riviera and Augusta National was one of the few pressure points with a release valve.
“People talk like I’m going to be working five weeks a year. I’m still working a full 40 weeks a year,” Nantz said. “For me to have that ‘from here to there’ experience, it’s been a good one, but I have more than enough memories to last me a lifetime, believe me.”
With Nantz’s children growing older, he and CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus came to an agreement — one the famed broadcaster teases could land him at the Final Four again, even if he isn’t calling it.
“Sean and I agreed we’re going to talk about me having a cameo at the Final Four in the future, I just won’t be doing the meat of the tournament,” Nantz said. “There might be some role for me to go to the Final Four in Phoenix next year and continue my streak of being involved in that event. We’ll see.”
Thursday, 4/6: 3-7:30 p.m. ET
Friday, 4/7: 3-7:30 p.m. ET
Programming notes: Welcome to the Masters pregame show airs both days from 1-3 p.m. ET
Nantz’s final run at the Final Four has courted the attention of more than just sports diehards. It’s even attracted the envy of his sports broadcasting counterparts, Scott Van Pelt among them.
“I’ve often just shaken my head and kind of needled Jim, who obviously is as lovely a guy as you’d hope to meet, when he gets there on Tuesday,” Van Pelt said. “[I’m] just [like], your week, bro. Your week. I can’t imagine a better duo than those two [events].”
Fortunately, Van Pelt won’t have much time to dwell on Nantz’s Masters luck. His own week is jam-packed with Masters goodness, including the introduction of a new pregame show called Welcome to the Masters that Van Pelt will host for the two hours immediately preceding ESPN’s Masters coverage on Thursday and Friday.
“The new show will be fun. You just want to set the expectation,” Van Pelt said. “We know how hungry every golf fan is out there from the moment that you’re on: let’s see shots. We’ll be able to bring some more of that, but it’s also some interviews that carry us up until our coverage begins in earnest.”
Not much else is known about the show, which was undoubtedly created in tandem with the closely discerning broadcast eyes at Augusta National. Still, it’s reasonable to expect that Welcome to the Masters will fit in nicely next to the usual outfit of wall-to-wall SportsCenter and ESPN coverage over the first few days at the event.
The bigger unknown facing ESPN next week has to do more with LIV, which is making its first appearance at the Masters. The network has no plans to adjust its coverage expectations for the Saudi-backed rivals, though I wouldn’t expect ESPN (or CBS) to spend much airtime discussing the events of the tour during its Masters coverage.
“This isn’t a PGA Tour vs. LIV conversation at all,” Van Pelt said. “It’s who’s the low man at Augusta National. There’s been zero conversation, nor would there be, to exclude someone based on which tour he played for.”
Thursday to Sunday, 4/6-9: 2 p.m. ET through the completion of play
Programming notes: Rocco Mediate joins SiriusXM’s Masters coverage as an analyst.
This year’s Masters was always a longshot for Maureen Madill.
The former pro and longtime analyst for SiriusXM and the BBC had crossed Augusta National off her schedule months before XM executive producer Taylor Zarzour approached her about serving as an analyst on the broadcast.
“You’re probably not aware of this,” she told Zarzour with a chuckle. “But my stepson is getting married on Wednesday of Masters week … Shows you how much interest my family has in golf.”
But that wasn’t the only reason why Madill thought the Masters was a pipedream. Far from it.
It was only months ago that Madill found herself literally too ill to stand, living “the life of an 85-year-old.” The cause was a disease doctors couldn’t quite understand. First, they thought her condition was an offshoot of Long Covid. Later, after finding a mass on her liver, they assumed the cause was cancer. But a battery of tests and scans called that diagnosis into question.
All the while, Madill was at home; unable to work and, much more often, unable to walk.
“My husband and me, our own private mantra was, ‘No bad news yet,’” Madill said. “Because they couldn’t tell us anything bad definitively, you see. Then some bright spark sent my blood off to the Tropical Diseases Unit in London…”
The Tropical Diseases Unit found the cause of the mass on Madill’s liver wasn’t cancer, but rather a rare amoebic parasite. She received an intense battery of medication a few weeks back and, so far, has been stunned by her own progress.
“My health has been a cliff face,” Madill said. “A vertical cliff upwards.”
A cliff so significant, she began to wonder if she might be able to call the Masters again. One day, she got another call from Zarzour.
“What’s the latest on this family wedding?” Zarzour asked.
“Are you asking me if they’ve broken up?” Madill replied.
“Would you consider flying out on Thursday and coming and watching for us for the weekend?”
Next weekend, you’ll be able to hear Mo Madill on SiriusXM’s coverage of the Masters. It’ll be her first broadcast since June 2019, and the fulfillment of an Augusta National comeback that’d make even Tiger Woods blush.
“The thing that I’m going to regret is because I won’t be there on the practice days, I won’t be able to get any photographs at all,” Madill said.
“I reckon I can get over that.”
Saturday, 4/8: 3-7 p.m. ET
Sunday, 4/9: 2-7 p.m. ET
Programming notes: 13 Green Jackets, a conversation with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Scottie Scheffler airs at 2-3 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Jim Nantz remembers Augusta: The Masterful Tom Weiskopf airs Sunday from 1-2 p.m. ET
One highly popular element of CBS’s PGA Tour coverage won’t earn a spotlight during the network’s Masters coverage: the walk-and-talk.
Lead producer Sellers Shy said there were “no plans” to run the highly popular on-course interviews during the first major of the golf season. It’s unclear whether that change was driven by Augusta National, the players, or some combination of the two.
That said, the extra broadcast time will be filled with a handful of technological advancements. Shy said the CBS team was experimenting with a series of new drone shots and tracers to be used during the tournament coverage, including a new “monopole” camera and tracer on the new-look 13th hole.
The monopole figures to give fans a new perspective on the 13th, a hole the club lengthened by 35 yards in 2023 in response to distance gains across the sport.
“We have hopefully tried to match the enhancements that the club afforded by lengthening the tee,” Shy said.
Wednesday, 3/29: 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
Thursday, 3/30: 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
Saturday, 4/1: Noon-3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Programming notes: Drive, Chip and Putt will be broadcast from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday, 4/2.
Not many folks realize the labor that goes into preparing a new golf course for broadcast coverage, from setting up cameras and equipment to running the fiber-optic cable relied upon for transmitting video and audio data. This is why NBC’s decision to show the opening two rounds of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur — held at nearby Champions Retreat Golf Club — deserves high praise.
Unlike Augusta National, which has the broadcast infrastructure ready-made to televise an event, NBC crews committed dozens of hours to get Champions Retreat broadcast-ready.
Now the tournament featuring 72 of the best amateur golfers alive will have the three days of national TV coverage it deserves, including final-round coverage on NBC. Kudos all around for that effort.
Programming notes: Do yourself a favor and download the app here.
It was intriguing — but not at all surprising — to hear the following info posited by Full Swing executive producer Chad Mumm.
“Cool tidbit on the Masters app,” Mumm tweeted Monday. “I talked to a Netflix exec who said the engineers there consider The Masters app to be the best streaming app in the world (outside of Netflix of course). Hard to disagree.”
I’ve heard similar sentiments of wonder about the Masters app from various corners of the sports media world over the last few years. According to a few well-informed sources, the app’s backend work is even better than its uber-impressive user interface, which allows golf fans to effortlessly find any shot from tournament week and watch more than a dozen live streams.
Of course, Netflix does bear at least one noticeable difference to the Masters app: it’s used for more than one week out of the year.
Developers, take notes.
Programming notes: 55 hours of live coverage during Masters week beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Monday, April 3.
To those fortunate enough to be on-site at Augusta National (or unfortunate enough to be literally anywhere other than their living room during tournament play), there are few sources of information better than Golf Channel’s Live From, which airs daily throughout tournament week.
During Masters week, Live From promises no shortage of highlight-worthy entertainment, particularly from analyst Brandel Chamblee, who came out firing on NBC’s pre-Masters media call.
“As much as I’m against rolling the golf ball back, there were a few holes in the game of golf that when the pros played them, I did kind of wince. No. 13 was one of them,” Chamblee said. “It did bother me to see players cut that corner and have a wedge into the green.”
And then there was this:
“What I saw earlier this year from Tiger Woods made me look forward to the Masters with great anticipation,” Chamblee said. “He certainly has the world of golf’s attention.”
For the next 14 or so days, Brandel will, too.
We don’t know much, but Sir Nick is back in the broadcast booth again at the Masters! Per James Corrigan, the three-time Masters champ has signed on to work as an analyst for Sky Sports’ coverage at Augusta National.
As I found when I spoke with him back in December, retirement has come in fits and starts for Faldo. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised to hear he’s back on the broadcast circuit, however. These were his words when asked about life in retirement: “I’m not sitting on my a–.“
It would be wrong to write a column of this length about Masters media goings-on without highlighting the work that’ll soon be coming your way on this very website.
GOLF will have one of our largest contingents ever at next week’s Masters, with wall-to-wall coverage of everything happening on the ground at Augusta National in digital, print, social media, video and podcast form. We’ve spent weeks planning out our content plan for next week, and while I’m wildly biased, I can’t wait for you all to see it.
Keep your attention locked on our social channels, on our newsletters, and of course, on our website. You won’t want to miss it.
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