|The voice on the end of the ‘phone was unmistakable – a Californian twang, with a hint of humour in every sentence.|
"I hope I haven’t got you out of bed too early?" I asked Gary McCord.
"No sir," he said – I could almost see him twirling his trademark handlebar moustache – "I’m always up early. I’d hate to miss anything!"
I had called his home in Scottsville, Arizona to ask about his part in the film ’Tin Cup’ – not so much the role he played as himself, alongside Craig Stadler, Johnny Miller and Phil Mickelson but as golf coach to the movie’s star Kevin Costner.
"I wanted to give him a West-Texas golf swing," he told me, "which is quite different to the ones you see mostly on Tour, because in the winds you get down there, it has to be punchy and controlled, like playing on your British links courses.
"Because the film was mostly set in West Texas where the character Kevin played had a driving range, I decided it had to be authentic," he recalled.
"I never had a better pupil and by the time it came to shooting the film, Kevin had turned from a hacker into a very useful low handicapper. Watch the movie, we used no doubles."
McCord, a talented author of humorous golf books and a magician as well as claiming two wins on the US Seniors Tour, five seconds and over 30 top ten finishes, has to juggle his schedule with 15 events as an analyst and on-course reporter at 15 events for CBS.
He also revealed this week, that he was a contemporary in high school of comic actor Steve Martin.
"If they were to make a film of my life, he’s the guy I would want to play me, a kind of contradiction. We were at Garden Grove High School together. He was the head cheerleader and I started magic because of him. Other than that I was a bit of a geek. I learned to type pretty good, though. "
He didn’t start playing golf until he was 12, when he used to accompany his mother to golf classes and started hitting balls through the football posts with a 3-wood.
"I thought that was pretty cool. But I didn’t take the game seriously until I was 15."
Now he says he’s got the two greatest jobs in the world, playing the Seniors Tour and doing commentary.
He’s also a big fan of the Internet.
"When I get on it's CNN and then I go to CBS Sportsline then pgatour.com to see what's going on there and then I go through all the different sports pages around the United States.
"When I'm doing TV and one of the guys playing well is from, say Houston or somewhere, I'll go right to the Houston paper’s website and get some more stuff on him. I love searching and roaming the Internet."
McCord also reveals that fellow commentator David Feherty, the Belfast-born former European Tour winner with a similar quick-wit, has hidden talents.
"Somewhere in the future David is going to be playing the flute. A ‘New Age flautist’ as I like to call him. I would like to be at his first concert somewhere near Belfast. It should be very entertaining watching Feherty the flautist."
With his sharp, off the cuff comments, McCord is by far, the most entertaining commentator and rates alongside emerging former European Tour player Robert Lee as my favourite.
But they are not everyone’s cup of tea as many find their observations detract from the visual pictures. In my opinion they add greatly to the entertainment package.
*So who’s your favourite commentator or analyst? And who’s the weakest link? Let’s stoke up the debate on The Forum.
Costner image is from:
McCord: Master of the microphone