After two decades playing professional golf followed by two more at CBS cultivating his unique style as a on-course golf analyst and reporter, David Feherty said today he hopes to have another 20 years left in him to fulfill a new contract with the NBC Sports Group that includes adding his voice to that of Johnny Miller on the 2016 Olympics, the British Open and the Ryder Cup going forward.
“I’m just happy to be here in your country,” the native of Northern Ireland joked, as usual, on a conference call with reporters.
In addition, Feherty will continue doing his interview show series for the NBC owned Golf Channel and he has a development deal in place for the Universal Television department.
“In almost 20 years of playing, it felt like an apprenticeship for holding a microphone and I started to feel at home just a few years ago,” Feherty said. “When I got the gig at Golf Channel, it was a liberating experience, more of an intellectual challenge for me and I felt I could be good at it.
“Now I have this opportunity with the Olympics, the Ryder Cup, and a different set of players. I’m leaving behind a lot of great friends and great memories. I’m nervous about this. I hope they don’t drug test announcers, because I’d fail on several accounts with my psyche meds. Especially with the Olympics. I’m doomed there.”
Some reports that came out earlier this month when it was announced Feherty was leaving CBS indicated he was a bit unhappy with his situation there, wanted to do more reporting in the tower instead of walking, and sought new challenges.
This NBC deal seems to accommodate his desires at a time when NBC Sports producer Tommy Roy says Miller, the long-time tower analyst, has asked to cut back his schedule, as have on-course reporter Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch.
“We have open positions by happenstance,” said Roy. “This could not come together at a better time.”
Feherty said he did not read any of the news stories about his contract negotiations.
“I’m not sure how you could characterize the way it went,” he said. “There were offers and counteroffers and I’m left to make a decision that could have gone either way. NBC was the opportunity I couldn’t get anywhere else. The negotiations, I don’t know much about. I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve made. I’m not saying it wasn’t difficult. It was extremely difficult and emotional for me.”
Feherty said he “never asked” CBS if he could work more in the tower because “we were filled up there. People identify with me on the ground. There were a few occasions on a Thursday and Friday broadcast (with Golf Channel) when I could enjoy working in the tower and having more time to describe things. I’ll have more of an opportunity to do that in the coming years.”
Feherty’s role with NBC begins in January, 2016, so he will not be at the last two FedEx Cup events for the network, capped off by the Tour Championship in Atlanta next weekend.
Preparing to have three surgery on his hands and shoulder in the coming months, he admitted it can be a grind on his body to constantly walk the course week after week with the microphone pack and headset.
“I’m 57, but I’m like a net 75 with way I’ve treated myself,” he said. “I had no idea I’d live this long or I would have looked after myself. My hands are arthritic and people don’t believe me when i say I can’t grip a club.
“(Walking the PGA Championship at CBS) at Whistling Straits, you’re at a 45 degree angle and you can’t get on the center of the fairway. But then, it’s golf, not football and nobody’s going to tackle me. I’m using my time now to get my body back into some sort of shape and get some fitness back, because if I was a horse they’d shoot me.”
The development deal with Universal TV was a large part of the decision to switch over from CBS to NBC, Feherty said.
Golf Channel president Mike McCarley said that deal was “open ended. One of the great things about developing his (‘Feherty’) show for Golf Channel was opening his crazy brain and letting the ideas some out and then filter them. (‘Feherty’ producer) Keith (Allo) and his team did a great job having his voice come out in that hour-long show. It’s the same concept with other projects. Now we have a more formal agreement on how to do it and the projects stay within our company.”
By the way: An episode of “Feherty” where Feherty did a sit-down a couple of years ago with Donald Trump reairs tonight on Golf Channel at 7 p.m.
“I really enjoyed being with The Donald,” Feherty said. “He looked at me and said I needed a new suit, and he had one made for me in an hour and a half, which I wore. I’ve only had the opportunity to vote twice as a U.S. citizen since 2010. It’s really interesting to watch this because Ben Carson and Donald Trump are really two outsiders, and I like both of them. You can’t say this is not the most interesting presidential race certainly in my 20 years here. It’s fascinating.”