LI pro Jeff Warne finds radio golf surprisingly appealing
Maybe you have heard what has been said about golf on the radio: It is for people who find golf on TV just too darned exciting. These days, cynics can joke all they want, but the sport that is known for quiet is making its share of quality noise.
No one is more serious about it than SiriusXM, which has added a bunch of new shows to its around-the-clock PGA Tour Radio channel. One of those, "Golf School," has a Long Island pro offering tips and humor to a global audience two mornings a week.
Jeff Warne, the director of golf at The Bridge in Bridgehampton and the Metropolitan PGA's 2014 Teacher of the Year, said he was as skeptical as anyone when a friend began enthusiastically chatting up radio golf last year. Warne has been a decorated teacher -- one of Golf magazine's top 100 -- for more than 20 years and he was certain that the only way to convey the swing or short game was to do it visually.
But the friend, Scott Greenstein, was insistent, mostly because he is the SiriusXM president and chief content officer and he wanted Warne on the air. "I told him, 'You need a guy like Jim McLean,' " Warne said, referring to his former boss, the Miami-based elite-level coach. "I thought I was off the hook. Then Scott said, 'We're not doing it unless you're doing it, too.' "
So, every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 9, the pro from Bridgehampton hooks up a portable transmitter in his home and connects face-to-face with McLean at Doral via Skype. The two of them talk to guests and callers about their swings, McLean's students (such as Keegan Bradley) or anything else that comes up.
"Initially, Scott's words to me were, 'We're not looking for a radio guy, we want a golf pro. Don't worry about the fact that you're going to be terrible on radio.' It turned out that he was right," Warne said.
During the first few shows in January, the Long Island pro intensely prepared for every interview. The producers said he sounded like he was reading.
"They told me it should be like we were just sitting at a bar, talking golf," Warne said. "As I've gotten more and more comfortable, I've done less and less preparation." Although he happily says McLean is the star ("It took Jim about three weeks to realize I don't work for him anymore," he said), Greenstein insists Warne is a natural.
"When you listen to him, you are hearing a regular guy who can help you hit them straight on the range and then join you on the 19th hole just to talk golf," the executive said.
Warne has come to appreciate the appetite for that kind of talk on the radio. He likes listening to the channel's other new hosts, including Ben Crenshaw, Hank Haney and Ian Poulter. "You have a lot of people driving around. They have to have something to do," he said.
Long Island can testify to that. East End native Bob Bubka, a mainstay on Sag Harbor's WLNG, has been called "the voice of the PGA Tour." He and Golf Channel's Alex Miceli co-host The Grill Room, which has migrated from SiriusXM to TuneIn.com (and is available at all times).
Every Saturday morning, Long Islanders can hear guests such as Arnold Palmer during the Metro Golf Show on WVOX in Westchester (and wvox.com). Or they can talk golf with Ann Ligouri on WPPB-FM in Southampton or Anthony Scorcia on WGBB in Freeport.
As far as Warne is concerned, hearing is believing. "On every show I do," the teaching co-host said, "I learn something."
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