To call John Wood golf’s best-kept secret would be the equivalent of landing a 7-iron 20 yards from its intended destination. As he nears the end of his second season of full-time duty at NBC, Wood is already clearly standing as the game’s top on-course analyst, working with the ease of a man who’s been on the road for decades. is holding the microphone.
In a business where talking and thinking often come from different skill sets, Wood’s ability to do both on the fly in a timely and practical manner influences telecasts to a greater extent than other ground journalists. Peter Kostis set the benchmark during his 28 years at CBS, which made the network’s decision to dismiss him all the more confusing—the swing instructor used his expertise to tell you that one shot was another canned phrase. Why go wrong with what you just saw instead of watching it again.
The basic ideas can be invaluable when calling an orderly game for a major network. Wood has the ability to deliver abundant self-acquired information in a very short period of time. He educates the audience without telling them about him, which is an admirable quality in itself, and always seems like a guy who doesn’t want to be anywhere else. Knowledge, energy, reliability. Wood is the complete package, a PGA Tour caddy for 24 years before making the effortless leap into TV.
On a major network, no less. “John was a professional from the day he was NBC’s lead golf producer since 1993. He knew immediately how X’s and O’s worked,” says Tommy Roy, NBC’s chief golf producer since 1993.
With 29 Emmys in a 44-year career covering the sport, no one is likely to suffer fools without at least one poignant pause. Roy’s out-of-the-box mentality was part of the reason Wood and Jim “Bones” McKay were hired – soon after McKay split with Phil Mickelson in 2017 before returning to Caddy for Justin Thomas last September on NBC accepted the offer. Wood was in his third year working for Matt Kutcher at the time of the Mickelson-McKay split, but never gave up on his future plans after TV got its first taste of it in 2015.
Roy invited both loopers to an actual tryout during the Tours Fall Series event at Sea Island. “I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, and it planted a seed in my head,” Wood says. “I would never have pursued it if I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did.” Five years later, Wood turned 50 the summer before the onset of COVID-19 and Kutcher ended his partnership with an event after the Tour’s pandemic-induced suspension ended.
NBC Sports is inaugurated. The timing could not have been better. “It’s not easier than I thought, just more interesting,” Wood says. “It takes a lot more homework and research than I thought I would, and I love that stuff. In 24 years as a caddy, you learn the curriculum with one style of play in mind. Now it’s all kinds of games.” It’s about studying for.”
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This leads to an interesting discussion point. With Kostis, McKay and Wood being praised over the years as earning pro golf’s most effective on-course analysts, why aren’t more people who don’t play pro golf given the opportunity to take the job? Roy’s decision to hire a pair of caddies was hardly a calculated risk. The duties that come with the position are synonymous with those handled by the dude on the bag. real work. Grind on glamour, or something like that.
Former Tour pros are absolutely unprepared for this kind of exertion, which is one reason why Davis Love III walked away from CBS in 2020 after nearly three months of relatively modest labor. “I was fighting for it, frankly,” he would say. “I found it was more difficult than I thought.”
An enthusiastic outsider, it’s not that Prem is afraid to get his hands dirty. He doesn’t have the verbal chops or perhaps the mental stamina to excel at a task that requires the intense examination of an assigned group, then running four or five miles at a distance of four or five miles to millions of spectators. to express those ideas. hour stretch. Oh, and then you have to do the same thing tomorrow.
Roy believes that there will always be a purpose for announcers taking action from the booth, but with each passing year, the role of the green grass mill continues to grow. CBS has a lot in Dotty Pepper, though its value will increase if its fellow analysts, all nice and comfy in their 25-foot towers, bring something other than cupcakes to the party.
When Wood called out Lexi Thompson for playing too conservatively at the US Women’s Open two months ago, it was with a voice of reason and a fair amount of bite. LPGA players are rarely criticized in any context, even after making huge blunders, but Wood is too fond of the game to turn a blind eye to the truth.
“You’re not going to win a tournament unless you do it with the best part of your game,” Wood said of Thompson’s reluctance to fire on approachable par 5s after a spectacular drive into the fairway. “It’s my job to be honest.” Not many people in their profession can say that with a straight face, due to the delicate sensitivity of the respective rounds, while oblivious to the notion that golf is a better sport to watch when there is a crowd of older boys and girls with everyone else. is treated as such.
You take all that bread, you deal with fear. It’s part of performing on the biggest stages in professional sports, and the same goes for men and women who are fortunate enough to make television for a living. More than any of his attributes, it is John Wood’s admiration for the sport and the opportunities given to him that serves as the primary reason for his excellence.
A lot of players think they deserve it. A caddy really has to earn it, and as Tommy Roy will tell you, “John isn’t afraid to talk like a caddy.” A guy with 29 Emmys is never wrong.
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