- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
For those of you who don't keep track of such things, Blothar is a planet of wine tasters on the third parsec of the void called Creer. Though Blothar is a with-it kind of place, life there can get pretty dull. Which is why a Blotharian named Bi-Productivity 17 came to Earth. "I was sent by our leader, Torgotten Nine Clarius Ton, Archbishop of Vess, Most Wholly Father of the Four Vows and night clerk at Blothar's first 7-Eleven, to find new recreation," says Bi-Pro, known in these parts as Gary McCord. "My spaceship landed in the middle of a driving range, so I decided to learn golf." You can tell McCord is from Blothar by the way he ambles up the 18th fairway. "I always tilt my head to one side," he says. "If I don't, my brain tends to drain out my other ear."
Nothing about this golfer manqu� turned TV commentator seems convincingly human: not his gleaming, saucer-shaped eyes; not his pinball-machine mind. "There isn't such a thing as Gary McCord," says Ben Wright, his sidekick on CBS golf telecasts. "He's just a cardboard figure with a scruffy growth on his upper lip." Indeed, one suspects that tiny aliens are encased in McCord's skull, working the levers that move his arms and legs.
It's true that for two decades on the PGA Tour, McCord, 44, was more or less invisible. "I started off slow and tapered off," he says. "I've had more ex-wives than wins." For the record, he has been divorced once and has never won a PGA tournament. "Gary has made the most of minimal talent," says Wright. "He has made mediocrity an art form."
McCord's career earnings total $606,488, or roughly $30,000 a year. "Seven caddies are ahead of me on the alltime money list," he says. "One by only $400." McCord's best finish: runner-up at the 1975 Greater Milwaukee Open, and a $14,820 check. McCord's next-best finish: a tie for runner-up at the 1977 Greater Milwaukee Open, with a $10,053.33 payday. " Jack Nicklaus and I determine our schedules around the majors," he says. "Jack points toward them, I point away from them."
It wasn't until McCord joined CBS in 1985 that the public became aware of him at all. He has since gained a certain eminence by combining impudence with affability, thereby establishing a low-key rapport with his audience. "I hired Gary for that creative speck of irreverence," CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian has said. "This is a troubled world we live in, and anyone who treats a golf telecast as a totally serious exercise is demented."
Before McCord came along, golf announcers were so respectful of the game's traditions that their comments were delivered in hushed, cloistral tones. But McCord refuses to take anything seriously, and his humor is based on the unexpected, the improbable, the outrageous. In 1987 he used a slide whistle to accompany footage of a short chip shot at the Doral Ryder Open. A year earlier, at the same event, McCord teased viewers by pretending to predict the winning shot in a sudden-death playoff. With Andy Bean and Hubert Green tied for the lead at the end of regulation play, the network cut away to a boxing match. By the time it cut back to the Doral, Bean had won on the fourth playoff hole.
While McCord and fellow announcer Jim Nantz did point out to their audience that the action had been taped several hours earlier, McCord nevertheless got carried away. As Bean began lining up his tape-delayed victory putt, McCord said, "Jimmy, this tournament is over. Andy can't miss! He's gonna throw it at the right center of the cup. I guarantee it!"
Nantz's jaw dropped. "Gary!" he whispered off-mike. "You can't do that!"
"Why not?" McCord whispered back. "I might as well sound like I know what I'm talking about."
Actually McCord knows the game quite well. You pick up a few things after 21 years of Monday qualifiers and sponsors' exhibitions. "Gary can break down technical flaws and explain them very simply," says Steve Elkington, one of several pros who often ask his advice. Which doesn't mean McCord is universally popular with the players. "Some think Gary is loud and empty," Wright says. " Tom Watson once laid into me for lowering myself to Gary's level."