SI Vault
Dan Jenkins
April 10, 1967
For CBS, the 1966 Masters began with instant crisis when Jim Jensen, at right, misidentified himself and a V.P. reached for a phone
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April 10, 1967

An Eye On The Masters

For CBS, the 1966 Masters began with instant crisis when Jim Jensen, at right, misidentified himself and a V.P. reached for a phone

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"Gentlemen," said Frank, "for the first time in the history of this network, we are going to do a show without Scotch tape, rubber bands or paper clips."

This particular evening was devoted to that fine old American pastime of tension-relieving. The directors, commentators and brass split in all directions, making the rounds of the private parties that are a feature of the Masters. Several of them wound up at what passes for the late, late show in Augusta. It was a place called the Key Club. A members-only cocktail lounge—you join by walking in—it offered a number of treats, not the least of which were a combo that could play louder than the siege of Vicksburg, a lucky blackjack dealer and scads of noncoms from nearby Fort Gordon.

Someone had insisted on taking Jack Schneider there. It was part of the flavor he ought to see. Having only recently recovered from the unflattering publicity that accompanied Fred Friendly's resignation as head of CBS News, Schneider gazed around the room and said, "Well, here I am. Where's the Daily News reporter?"

Friday's dress rehearsal went well, and Chirkinian's production meeting afterward reflected this. The director could make only a few small points. Jay Hebert's name was misspelled on the scoreboard in Middlecoff's basement. " Jay Hebert's name is always misspelled," said Dolph. "He ought to change it to Herbert." Frank wondered if Jim Jensen intended to get a haircut—another retape of that introduction was still possible. There had been too much talking on the intercom during production. "Let there be one leader, Frank said. He asked if Schneider had enjoyed himself and did anyone know when he was going back to New York? (Schneider was headed back.) He said he hoped there would not be too many green jackets—Masters committeemen—in the truck tomorrow. He announced that the show would begin 30 minutes before air time so they would have a flying start. "Well, gentlemen," he concluded, "that's about all. Good luck tomorrow, and I'd just like to announce that I'm going back in the dry-cleaning business."

Chirkinian looks almost like Hollywood's conception of a TV director. He is a natty little man, dark-complexioned, with black, wavy hair, horn-rimmed glasses, alligator loafers and a 10 handicap. This was going to be his eighth straight Masters for CBS. His earlier training had not been in sports, however. A native of Philadelphia, he had been in the Army, done a year at Penn and two years at Philadelphia's Columbia Institute. In Philadelphia he had directed just about everything possible—musicals, news, drama, public affairs, variety and circuses. Along the way to CBS he had become a golf nut, and this had certainly shown in his work at Augusta, as well as on the CBS Golf Classic, the best of the canned golf shows.

Chirkinian's job at the Masters was far from enviable. Few creatures, electronic or otherwise, are more imposing than a TV control truck. The one at Augusta was a blinking monster of 14 screens, large and small, color and not, of live pickup, videotape replays and stop-action. Frank's duty was to watch them all simultaneously while keeping in constant touch with commentators, assistant directors and technicians, and select which of the different pictures should go on the air.

Physically, the network's setup as air time approached for Saturday's one-hour show on the third round was this: Chirkinian was at his table in what television romantically calls the hot truck. He was seated between an assistant director with a stopwatch, Roland Vance, and a technical director, Sandy Bell, who punches a button when the director says, "Take one," or, "Take three," or whatever he wants. Also in the truck was Lou Scanna, the engineer in charge who was responsible for all of the plugs being in their sockets, one of the few men in the world who knows why you can get a picture on your screen at home. MacPhail and Dolph were present, of course—to worry. Another huge truck was situated down near the 16th green, and squeezed in there was Bob Daley, a fine director in his own right, who rates up there with Chirkinian, CBS's Tony Verna, NBC's Harry Coyle and ABC's Mack Hemion as the elite in the business. Daley was acting as Chirkinian's assistant. It was his job to punch up the action from the 15th, 16th and 17th holes as best he saw it, and ride shotgun on the commentators at those locations. The voice men—talent, they are called, perhaps because they earn 84 thou a year, or a lot, anyhow—were all on their towers in their blue blazers, and Middlecoff was in his basement, frequently sending such messages to Chirkinian on the intercom as, "I'm here if you need me, doll."

As show time drew close, Chirkinian sat calmly calling up test shots—the scoreboard, Whitaker, various greens, competitors walking along.

"Fellows," he said in his headset, "let's remember to keep sight reference at all times, and let's keep silent on all shots. We've got these tees and fairways miked for audio, so we want to hear it when they swing."

He glanced at one of the screens and noted that a cameraman, playfully scanning the crowd at 18, had located a shapely bell-bottomed spectator.

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