Do not adjust your television’s sound. Those melodious Cape Town accents seemingly coming in stereo from both on the course and inside the CBS broadcast tower at Torrey Pines this week are not echoes. If you listen carefully, you can tell the subtle differences that nine years of seasoning makes between the voices of the Immelman brothers.
Golf on CBS has gone all in on the Immelmans. Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion, is making his debut at the Farmers Insurance Open as the network’s lead analyst, taking the seat in the booth beside Jim Nantz that Nick Faldo vacated after 16 years. Older brother Mark Immelman, a long-time golf coach and instructor, begins his first full-time season as an on-course reporter with Dottie Pepper and Colt Knost.
The brothers don’t think people will have trouble telling their South African accents apart, but they aren’t too worried about any confusion.
“We sound a little different. Maybe it’s 52 years versus 43 that my voice is a bit more grizzled,” the elder Mark Immelman said. “We have different terms, and we kind of use different vernacular a little bit, too. I’m sure people can pick us. But you know what, if they don’t, as long as we don’t say anything that’s incorrect, we’ll both be fine.”
Trevor’s sentiments exactly: “Americans, when they hear an accent that’s not American, I could see how it could be confusing. We’ll just have to see. As long as (Mark) keeps saying smart stuff, it’s fine.”
Smart is what both brothers bring to the table. They come into the broadcast game from different perspectives: Trevor as a former tour player, major winner and recent Presidents Cup captain and Mark as a collegiate all-American and coach at Columbus State University in Georgia who teaches, writes and talks about golf instruction. They are well-versed in a game that has been the family foundation, including father Johan Immelman serving a five-year stint as commissioner of South Africa’s Sunshine Tour.
Could they have envisioned golf broadcasting becoming the family franchise?
“Funnily enough, I did,” said Mark, who originally dipped his toes into the broadcast realm in South Africa before joining the SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio in 2012. His commenting reach expanded to his “On the Mark” podcast, PGA Tour Live hosting and eventually Golf Channel and CBS.
“Way back in the day, I just had the sense that, you know, Team Immelman was a bit of a thing. We’ve always sort of seen the game the same way and I’ve always sort of thought that working together could be an interesting angle. It’s crazy how it’s transpired now, and it’s crazy how two guys from the other side of the world are on what is arguably the pre-eminent broadcasting golf crew in the world. It’s kind of the things of which dreams are made, and it’s curious how my suspicions have come to fruition.”
While Mark was quickly drawn into the commenting game as broadcast options expanded, Trevor needed to be in the right place to make the transition. He battled a wrist injury that set him back after his breakthrough Masters victory in 2008, and he worked tirelessly to remain competitive for another decade. He won a Web.com Tour Finals event in 2013, beating Patrick Cantlay by a stroke in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to retain his PGA Tour card. He eventually got status on the European Tour and experienced a resurgence in 2019.
“Once my golfing career started slowing down – or how competitive I was started slowing down – and this opportunity arose and I learned more and more about it, I had such a great time being at the events …” – Trevor Immelman
In 2017, however, Trevor too started dabbling in television with TNT for its early-round coverage at the PGA Championship, working independently at the same event with his brother for the first time at Quail Hollow. Thoughtful, articulate and insightful, Trevor seemed a natural on the mic. After making the cut in the 2019 Masters, Immelman was only 40 when he stopped utilizing his lifetime exemption to compete in the Masters to focus on his new role with the CBS golf broadcast team – similar to what Faldo did after joining CBS in 2006.
“When I was playing, I was extremely single-minded and focused and all in on that, and that was really the thing that consumed my life,” Trevor said. “Once my golfing career started slowing down – or how competitive I was started slowing down – and this opportunity arose and I learned more and more about it, I had such a great time being at the events, not playing but still being a part of the event and being a part of a big team.
“It takes a huge group of people to put a golf broadcast on the air, and I really got a kick out of being a part of a team. … I thoroughly enjoyed the Presidents Cup experience. It’s just being part of something that’s more than just you. And the more I started getting opportunities, the more I enjoyed it. I actually said to somebody the other day that in a lot of ways I get the same nerves, excitement, energy when we’re doing the broadcast as I did when I was playing back in the day. So it sort of scratches that itch for me as well.”
While Nantz is covering the AFC Championship Game this weekend in Kansas City, he’ll be handling his role remotely. So Trevor Immelman expects his new reality as the lead analyst to really kick in next week at Pebble Beach when he sits next to the man whose voice has defined golf and American sport since Trevor first tuned into the Masters in 1986.
“That voice, it’s what I think of when I think of golf,” Trevor said of Nantz. “And now to be able to be sitting right next to him talking about the best players in the world is something that I absolutely don’t take for granted. And I’m thoroughly looking forward to it.”
Trevor has big shoes to fill following Faldo, a six-time major winner who offered a unique British wit and candor to the broadcast. Immelman has his own perspective to offer as a fellow Masters champ and international player.
“I think it would be a mistake trying to be somebody else,” Trevor said. “I think I have to be myself, and I have to be authentic. Because, you know, it’s my goal to do this job for a long time, and if you’re not being yourself, eventually you’re gonna get called out by the viewer at home. So I have to get on TV every weekend and be myself, be open, and be honest. Allow my love and passion and energy for the game to come out.”
To that end, Trevor will put in the kind of work he was known for doing as a player on the range. That requires research and reporting and knowing the subjects who are on the stage every weekend. He finds it every bit as challenging as digging the game out of the dirt.
“Absolutely, you got to put the time in,” he said. “What I’m finding is that it’s only a short space of time to where you can rest on the fact that you used to play out on tour. You got to start going deeper and deeper and finding other things that viewers could find interesting or entertaining, or they could learn something from. So, yeah, the prep is huge. … Before the rounds get started each day, you’re going to be chatting to the players and caddies and agents and coaches and trying to pick up little things that could be interesting to the viewer.
“Look, live TV is a beast. You never quite know what’s going to happen. And so you have to be able to roll with the punches as well, but you want as many tricks up your sleeve as you possibly can, just in case.”
(Click on photos above to enlarge images of Trevor (left) and Mark Immelman.)
Mark Immelman knows his younger brother is up to the challenge.
“I feel like he brings that discipline, the preparation to every show. I mean, I giggled at him because he’s got notes for his notes,” Mark said. “Because he’s always so well prepared and put together, he’s not going to miss a step. And look, he’s a charming personality with a quick wit and a lot of insights. He’s always thought very deeply about the game and is very cerebral in his approach. There’s a whole lot going for him.”
Both brothers have a big platform in 2023. It’s a daunting 66th consecutive season of golf for CBS, with 23 events in four countries on deck including all three FedEx Cup playoff events for the first time and 11 of the PGA Tour’s 17 “designated” events with enhanced $20 million purses promising elite fields more often. CBS will handle the season’s first two major championships, the Masters and the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, New York. While Trevor’s role will be constant throughout, Mark is scheduled to serve on the Amen Corner production at the Masters where they don’t have on-course announcers following groups.
“It’s a thrill being in broadcast, and to have a mandate to be able to speak about a game you love is incredible,” Mark Immelman said.
Trevor said he gets goosebumps thinking about starting this new phase in a booth with Nantz.
“I am extremely excited and obviously humbled as well,” Trevor said. “I still, in a lot of ways, don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet.”
© 2023 Global Golf Post LLC
If you love great journalism like this, you will love GGP+. Click here and subscribe for just $45 (25% off).
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Tell us how we can improve this post?