Confirming news that first was reported last week, Fox Sports announced this afternoon that Joe Buck and Greg Norman will be its lead broadcast team when the network kicks off its golf coverage at the 2015 U.S. Open.
In addition to calling the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, Buck and Norman will be in the Fox booth for the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur “at least,” Mark Loomis, the recently hired coordinating producer for Fox Sports’ golf coverage, said in a conference call introducing the pair. Fox acquired the rights currently held by NBC to broadcast the U.S. Open and other USGA events last August in a 12-year deal worth more than $1 billion.
Buck, 44, is the longtime voice of the NFL and Major League Baseball for Fox and carries a 3.5 handicap index, while Norman, 59, is the owner of two Open Championship titles and a plethora of near misses in majors.
Although neither has broadcast golf before, both downplayed that fact and asserted that they’ll be more than up to the task.
Buck said he will seek the counsel of golf-announcing mainstays Jim Nantz of CBS and Mike Tirico of ESPN ahead of his new assignment.
“We will draw inspiration from the people who do it now,” he said.
Moreover, he plans to be at this year’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst as an observer, soaking in all he can about the mechanics of broadcasting one of golf’s major championships.
Norman, meanwhile, deflected the experience question by harking back to his playing days when legendary CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian would invite him into the broadcast booth to share his thoughts after a round.
“He complimented me in my … forthright style, and (for) being open and honest,” Norman said, crediting the Ayatollah for giving him the confidence to go on-air.
The Shark, of course, has never lacked for confidence in any pursuit. Asked what his announcing style might be and whether he will be critical of players, he responded: “My objective is not to be criticizing golfers. My objective is to be exactly what the Fox Network saying is: fair and balanced.”
But in his next breath, Norman credited NBC analyst Johnny Miller, the inveterate critic whose role on USGA telecasts Norman will assume.
“He’s done an excellent job on it because he actually brings some thought processes to the audience, and I think I’m going to be that way as well,” Norman said. “I’m not looking to be critical. I’m looking to be very informative and fact-based.”