Update: This list was last updated on June 20th, 2022
Who are the top 15 best golf commentators and announcers of all time? If you have ever watched a golf tournament on TV, you would have noticed a host of former players and broadcasters chiming in before and after every shot. Some of these pundits make play-by-play comments; others get to interview some of the best golfers of all time. Whoever they are, they can be responsible for the most iconic and enjoyable moments in golf.
Many will argue that the most memorable parts of a major are the often unbelievable shots made by professional golfers. Others will know that more time is spent talking about golf than watching it, so it’s vital that there are insightful comments and good conversation to help pass the time. Golf tournaments like the Masters attract the very best golf commentators and announcers, which help make every year just as exciting as the last.
Below you will find a list of the very best golf commentators and announcers, plus a variety of famous clips. Some of these clips were at the most defining moments of a major golf championship, others became iconic thanks to the words of the pundit.
15. Roger Maltbie
Roger Maltbie was an American professional golfer and on-course golf analyst. His career began in 1973 and he managed 12 professional wins before moving to a commentary position. He had several appearances in the various majors, with his best coming in 1987. He finished joint fourth at the Masters, a feat he regards as the biggest disappointment of his career.
Maltbie joined NBC Sports in 1991 and quickly endeared himself to fans. His tasteful sense of humor and approach to commentary allowed him to stand out from other on-course reporters. He would stand a lot closer to the greens and would never shy away from giving his own opinion. Speaking about the famous rivalry between Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka, you can see exactly why fans appreciate his cool, calm, and collected response; which you can see in the clip below.
What really made Maltbie a beloved on-course reporter is his brilliant swing analysis. Throughout his career, his eagle eyes have spotted some incredible variations in pro golf swings. Add this to his charm when explaining the complexities of a golf swing and you have one of the best golf commentators of all time.
14. Bill Macatee
Bill Macatee is one of a select few golf commentators who did not play the sport professionally. In fact, he did not start off as a golf commentator. Macatee joined NBC Sports in 1982 where he commentated on Wimbledon, the Super Bowl, and the World Series. He joined the USA Network in 1990 where he anchored coverage of the PGA Tour and hosted part of The Masters plus the Ryder Cup.
A clear fan of golf, Macatee joined CBS in 1995, where he handled post-round interviews and was a tower announce for the PGA and Masters. He was clearly a trusted figure, covering any vacant spots usually filled by Jim Nantz. A feature about Macatee that helped him maintain his popularity as a golf announcer was made pretty clear in his interview with the El Paso Times. He said:
“Before every game I’d take a lap around the field, just to remind myself I’m a kid from El Paso, and look what I get to do. I made sure to stop and smell the roses. Not many people get to do what I was doing.”Bill Macatee
It was clear to all golf fans that Macatee was one of our own. From watching golf majors as a kid to presenting them live, Macatee got to live the dream so many of us still fantasize about. With his tasteful commentary to his genuine appreciation of the game, not a bad word could be said about Bill Macatee.
13. Ken Venturi
Ken Venturi is a former professional golfer turned commentator for CBS. He turned pro back in 1956, where he won 15 professional events. This includes winning the 1964 U.S. Open. Besides lighting up the fairways as a player, Venturi had a long and successful broadcasting career. Many saw the switch from playing to commentary as unusual, given Venturi’s stutter. However, he seemed at home in the commentary booth and the stutter became less prevalent over time.
Venturi retired from golf in 1967. He spent 35 years as CBS Sports lead analyst, the longest stint in broadcasting history. Having such a long and celebrated career is only possible if you are good at your job and venturi was certainly one of the best. He would regularly chime in at the perfect time for a quick quip, an insightful comment, or just something only Venturi would say. Below is a highlight reel put together to celebrate the man as a golfer and commentator.
If you grew up watching golf during his long tenure as the lead analyst for CBS, then you would have heard and seen some incredible moments. Any of you who missed the Ventura era would only need to watch a couple of clips to see he was one of the best golf commentators of all time.
12. Peter Kostis
Peter Kostis is a famous golf analyst and instructor who has taught some pretty big names to play golf over the years. He taught Dan Marino, Maury Povich, and Mike Schmidt, to name a few. Another Kostis claim to fame is that he coached Kevin Costner in the 1996 comedy sports film, Tin Cup. Kostis made a name for himself in 1992 when he joined CBS Sports. He was an on-course reporter and golf analyst for CBS until 2021, when they dropped him and Gary McCord from the broadcast team. Also, Kostis was the lead analyst for the USA Network between 1989 and 2004, a job he did in tandem with CBS.
If you missed out on Kostis during his time in front of the cameras, then perhaps you should check out his recent comments on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league in the video below.
For those of you who want a summary, Kostis believes a bit of competition is not always a bad thing. He compared golf to the history of the NFL and how they had to merge rival leagues to create the sport we know and love to this day. Whether you agree with his recent take, there is no doubt he was a fabulous on-course reporter in his heyday.
11. Ian Baker-Finch
Ian Baker-Finch was an Australian professional golfer who turned pro in 1979. Baker-Finch had a very successful golfing career, winning 17 pro tournaments and one major. He won the 1991 Open Championship, which was held at the Royal Birkdale Golf Club in England. This was an especially impressive feat given the quality of players who made the cut. The likes of Greg Norman, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player were just some of the competition at the major.
ESPN hired Baker-Finch in 1998 to commentate on golf tournaments. He filled in frequently as the lead analyst for ESPN and ABC’s coverage. In 2007 he joined CBS as a hole announcer, where he remains to this day. At the 2007 Barclays tournament, an errant shot that deflected off a guard rail behind the green hit Baker-Finch in the face.
If you would like a quick sample of Ian Baker-Finch’s personality, check out the clip above. In the video, he talks about his famous major win in great detail. It’s his clear and concise attitude to golf that made him such a success in the commentary booth.
10. Gary Koch
Gary Koch was a professional golfer turned sportscaster. He turned pro in 1975 and won six PGA Tour tournaments during his golfing days. In 1990, Koch joined ESPN and began a media career covering golf. He joined NBC Sports in 1996 where he remains to this day. Koch had a mixed playing career, with a fourth-place finish being his highest result at a major championship.
He may have missed out on a major, but he has found a way into history books by commenting on some truly iconic events. Perhaps his most famous moment inside the commentary booth was in 2001. Koch was commenting on the Players Championship at Sawgrass. It was the third round and Tiger Woods was trailing Jerry Keller by three. They were playing the 17th, Island Green, an iconic hole in the middle of a water hazard. Woods’ was on the fringe of the green and had to contend with a lengthy birdie putt.
Tiger spent a long time examining the various hills of the green before attempting the put; studying and predicting how the ball would run. When he finally attempts the putt, it starts around five yards right of the hole. As the various hills on the green affect the run of the ball, Koch says:
“That’s better than most… That is better than most… Better than most!”
The putt is famous for its length, but more so for the iconic commentary provided by Gary Koch. It only happened in the third round but became a staple when talking about Woods coming from behind to win a tournament.
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9. Dottie Pepper
Dottie Pepper was a professional golfer born in New York. If you watched her play between 1988 and 95, you would have seen Dottie Mochrie, but she changed her name after a divorce. She turned pro in 1988 and won 25 professional tournaments during her successful career. She won the ANA Inspiration twice, came third in the U.S. Women’s Open three times, and had a top-five finish in two other majors.
Pepper’s commentating career began in 2005, but she made headlines at the 2007 Solheim Cup. Assuming they had gone to commercial, Pepper commented on the performance of the U.S. team, who let their lead slip. She called them “choking freaking dogs”, which is certainly an interesting choice of words.
Pepper retired from professional golf following injury problems in 2004. In 2012, Pepper announced retirement from commentating and moved to work with the PGA. In 2013, she returned to commentary with ESPN and signed in 2015 to CBS as a replacement for David Feherty. Few people in golf could have filled the shoes of legendary golfer and pundit Feherty, but Dottie is undoubtedly one of the best on-course reporters out there.
While you might not think Pepper should be on the list of the best golf commentators and announcers, she thoroughly deserves her spot. Although her usual role is on the course, she has commented on golf tournaments from behind a desk on several occasions. Her insight and personality make for some great moments in front of the camera and we hope to see many more!
8. Frank Nobilo
Frank Nobilo is one of the best golf commentators of all time. He started out as a golfer from New Zealand who turned professional in 1979. He was born in 1960 and won 14 tournaments across a variety of tours during his playing career. In 1997, he reached a career-high of 21st in the world and had a growing reputation for being a complete golfer. In 1998, a rogue tee shot struck him above the left eye, requiring 30 stitches. It certainly affected his play, as he never hit the heights again and retired in 2003.
Although his playing career ended early, this allowed Nobilo to thrive in another role in front of the cameras. Fans immediately appreciated Nobilo for his insight and frankness in addressing golfers and the conditions. If you have ever met a Kiwi, a person from New Zealand, they have an open and frank way of speaking. That is certainly the case for Nobilo, one of his many traits that fans have enjoyed during various majors over the years. Speaking in a TV interview, Nobilo said:
“I never achieved in golf some of the things I thought I would, or I would have liked to. So, for me, when I stopped, I was very bitter and twisted about it. I thought golf had treated me unfairly. But, when I look back now, it hasn’t. Everything I got in life has been through golf, whether it’s from being inside or now outside the ropes.”Frank Nobilo
His ability to be introspective has certainly corresponded well to the commentary booth, giving us a wonderful insight into the mind of a top-level golfer.
7. Peter Alliss
The “Voice of golf” was a nickname given to Peter Alliss, one of the best golf commentators ever. He began as a professional golfer in 1947 and retired in 1975 winning 31 professional tournaments. He took part in eight Ryder Cups. Peter made history along with his father Percy for both playing and winning a Ryder Cup.
Not everyone liked Alliss. In fact, he annoyed a lot of golfers with his harsh words. He criticized players after poor scoring in a round at Wentworth Club during the PGA Championship. Nick Dougherty called Alliss out for being out of touch and giving the players unfair criticism given the hard conditions. Later in his career, Alliss did not hold back when talking about Tiger Woods. He said in 2010:
“I think his father has a lot to do with how Tiger is. His father was a frightening bully.”Peter Alliss
A year later they asked Alliss if Woods had what it takes to beat Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major championships. In that interview, he categorically said Tiger would not surpass the record. He stated:
“The aura has gone. He used to be nicer, and he became grumpy. He hasn’t done anything to recapture the public’s affection.”Peter Alliss
Alliss was a divisive golf commentator. He would often speak his mind, which would inadvertently offend many of the golfers he was talking about. Some things he brushed off as the next generation being “thin-skinned” or “delicate”, but in reality, he was often too harsh.
6. Verne Lundquist
Verne Lundquist is a play-by-play commentator who has covered a variety of sports. The sports he has commented on include golf, American football, basketball, and various sports at the Olympics. Lundquist made a name for himself with a long and dedicated career covering the Dallas Cowboys. He was a part of the Cowboys Radio Network in 1967 and was a commentator on Bowling for Dollars from 1970 to 1974.
There are many iconic golfing moments thanks to Lundquist and his calls, but none more so than the iconic Masters shot from 2005. Tiger Woods was on the 16th hole of the course, leading the tournament with 13 under par. He was about to play his second shot from the edge of the rough onto a very uneven green. Lundquist had this to say as the historic shot unfolded:
“Well, here it comes… Oh, my goodness! Oh wow! In your life, have you seen anything like that?!”Verne Lundquist
Truth be told, it’s still an unbelievable shot. Even after seeing it countless times, it still looks set up as if we are watching a movie about one of golf’s greatest players. The commentary provided by Lundquist only adds to the iconic shot, as shots as dramatic as this don’t occur at every tournament.
5. Johnny Miller
Johnny Miller was a fantastic golfer who retired early into his career due to knee problems. He made history several times on the course, becoming the first player to shoot 63 in a major, the 1973 U.S. Open. Miller was second on the McCormack world golf rankings in 74 and 75, behind the legendary Jack Nicklaus. He won 36 professional tournaments and two majors; the Open Championship and U.S. Open.
Miller semi-retired in 1990 to take up broadcasting but continued to play in some golfing events. He won the 1994 Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at 46, one of the last professional events he played in. Although he was a smooth player on the course, his commentary often landed him in hot water. Known for his blunt remarks, they criticized Miller for comparing Rocco Mediate to someone “who cleans Tiger Woods’ pool.” He explained:
“Guys with the name of Rocco don’t get on the trophy, do they?”Johnny Miller
Well, after playing a superb 2008 U.S. Open, taking Woods to an 18-hole playoff plus a sudden-death hole, Miller had to eat humble pie. Unfortunately, Mediate would lose on the day to Tiger, but it proved to be a lesson Miller needed to learn. He said, “I chose my words poorly and in the future will be more careful.” Comments like this would not stand if said today, which is fair enough. The only problem with being blunt is you can often overstep the mark, something Miller did occasionally.
4. Gary McCord
Gary McCord was a professional golfer turned commentator who has written two books about golf, Golf for Dummies and Just a Range Ball in a Box of Titleists. McCord took part in over 400 PGA Tour events but never won. He won two senior PGA Tour Champions in 1999 and one Korn Ferry Tour victory in 1991. His highest finish at a major was joint 54th in the PGA Championship, he never took part in the other majors.
One of McCord’s most famous moments came on the golf course during the 1984 FedEx St. Jude Classic. As McCord lined up a put on the 15th, his pants split at the seam, revealing his buttocks. For one reason or another, McCord chose not to wear any underwear that day, so he had to purchase Peter Jacobsen’s rain pants for $20.
McCord established a reputation for being outspoken and it landed him in hot water while working for CBS. During the 1994 Masters, McCord was commenting on the 17th hole, which he regarded as “bikini-waxed” given the speed on the green. He also said there were “body bags” behind the green for any player that missed the approach. Augusta National Golf Club had McCord removed from the Masters’ Commentary team, never to return.
3. David Feherty
David Feherty was a professional golfer from Northern Ireland. He grew up around an hour away from one of the best golf courses in the world, Royal County Down. Feherty turned professional in 1976 and enjoyed a reasonably long career before retiring in 1997. He reached as high as 33rd in the world golf rankings and won ten professional tournaments. Currently, Feherty works for NBC Sports full-time. Before that, he worked for CBS between 1997 and 2015.
Feherty, much like other former golfers, has a reputation for speaking his mind in an often unfiltered way. In an interview with Golf Magazine, Feherty came clean about his depression and how he used alcohol to hide his demons. He took great offense when Tom Cruise, an avid Scientologist, said we can cure depression with physical exercise. Feherty said:
“Actually, some sort of exercise would have helped me. If I kicked the s*** out of Tom Cruise, I’d feel a lot better about myself.”David Feherty
These candid comments have made Feherty an iconic name when talking about the best golf commentators and announcers. However, they have also gotten the former pro golfer into a lot of trouble. He is very outspoken about politics, which means you either love him or hate him.
2. Nick Faldo
Nick Faldo is one of the best golf commentators and announcers of all time. He was an English professional golfer who is now a TV commentator for major golf championships. Faldo turned pro in 1976, after watching Jack Nicklaus in the 1971 Masters and dedicating himself to golf. He has 43 professional wins and achieved the number one ranking in the world for 97 weeks in 1990. He won six majors and a variety of awards during his golf career, such as European Tour Golfer of the year on three occasions.
Faldo’s broadcasting career surprised many as the fans saw a new side to the former number one. His dry sense of humor, quick wit, and insightful commentary quickly made Faldo a fan favorite. He worked alongside Paul Azinger and Mike Tirico from 2004 to 2006, forming a great bond and producing some entertaining moments. He moved to CBS in 2006, where he focused more on the broadcasting of golf, rather than participating in tournaments. Faldo said:
“I view this as a fabulous opportunity for me, which may come once every ten years. But it will seriously curtail my playing career. My playing days aren’t completely over, but my priority is now given to CBS.”Nick Faldo
Faldo was awarded an MBE in 1988 and won the 1989 BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. He was rated as the 18th best golfer of all time by Golf Digest and is up there as being one of the greatest English golfers ever. Few golf commentators and announcers hit the heights like Faldo did, making his insight truly invaluable.
1. Jim Nantz
Jim Nantz is a famous sportscaster who does play-by-play commentary for the PGA Tour, NFL, and NBA for CBS Sports. He has been the host of the Masters’ coverage on CBS since 1989 and presented the PGA Tour since 1986. We consider him to be the best golf commentator and announcer of all time because of the variety of iconic moments he has commented on.
In 2004, Phil Mickelson was going for a green jacket at the Masters. He was chasing the leader and had a chance to win at the very last hole of the tournament. It was a lengthy putt back down the green when Nantz said, “Is it his time?” The answer is yes! His comments also perfectly summed up Tiger Woods’ first win at a major, calling it “A win for the ages”.
Perhaps his most iconic call was in the 1986 Masters, where Jack Nicklaus won his 18th major at the spritely age of 46. On the 15th fairway, Nicklaus was four shots down and out of the race for the win. After some impressive shots, making up a tremendous distance to land a few yards from the pin, Nantz came into play. After witnessing a monumental charge for a major win, perhaps one of the most famous in golf history, Nantz said:
“The bear has come out of hibernation.”Jim Nantz
He was certainly right. The Golden Bear had come out of hibernation with some incredible determination. Nantz made this comment right at the start of his broadcasting career and blessed us all with iconic words alongside history-making golf shots for over three decades. Thank you, Jim!
Who are the Best Golf Commentators?
The best golf commentators and announcers are the ones who can tell you both something you didn’t know, and something you knew, but in an interesting way. Legends like Jim Nantz have been adding more to each major golf tournament for decades. If you watch any live sports then you would know how certain personalities are perfect for talking to the nation. Yes, Nantz has been in the job at some truly iconic moments in golfing history, but he has absolutely earned his place.
We included on-course reporters on our list of the best golf commentators and announcers for several reasons. The major reason is they are responsible for some fantastic golfing moments. Being the first to interview a new major winner takes some quick thinking and is arguably harder than being sat in the cozy studio!
No list at Bet Station is complete without some honorable mentions. These are golf commentators and announcers who deserve recognition for all they have contributed to the wonderful world of golf. We could list hundreds of journalists and former players, but here is a small list of some great commentators.
- Peter Jacobsen
- Peter Oosterhuis
- Wayne Riley
- Pat Summerall