Fox and FS1 have been the sole American television homes for live U.S. Open action since 2015, when a lucrative deal with the USGA kicked in, and kicked longtime partner NBC aside.
But the peacocks are not entirely absent from the TV stage at Shinnecock Hills this week. Golf Channel, which NBC owns, is here, as always.
And, as always, its popular prime time show, “Live From . . . ” has a sweet set and a loyal audience, centered around longtime analysts Brandel Chamblee and Frank Nobilo
How long has it been, anyway? “Too long,” Nobilo said Friday after a production meeting at the Open broadcast compound.
But seriously, how many years? “Feels like a hundred,” Nobilo said, then added, “We’ve co-existed for 15 years . . . Gasoline and a match.”
Indeed, the analysts and host Rich Lerner have been at it that long.
Chamblee and Nobilo both are in their mid-to-late 50s and both played golf professionally. Beyond that they seem to have little in common.
Chamblee is an American, and is best known for his meticulous, data-driven analysis. Nobilo is a New Zealander whose preparation leans more to chatting up players, coaches and others in the golf community.
“We all see things differently, but we all have a respect for the other person, because we know it’s thoughtful,” Chamblee said. “Then we can have healthy debate and hopefully not offend each other and know you are both trying to give the audience what they want, which is a 360-degree viewpoint and let them decide what’s right or wrong.”
It is television, after all, so part of the point is to put on a show. But Chamblee bristled at the notion that that is their primary motivation.
“It is show business,” he said, “but when people say, ‘Are you doing things to be provocative?’ No, you say things you believe to be true that other people might find provocative, but never, ever, ever, ever is it made to be provocative.”
Nobilo said, “I think he’s the best at statistics in the business. If he’s looking at numbers. I should look elsewhere. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it.”
Nobilo compared the give-and-take to the polarized political climate in the United States — only with both sides being open to other viewpoints.
“You should be able to have someone right and left and put them on the set together and for the betterment of the game go, ‘OK, we see things differently. Is there common ground?’ If there is, we should both support it. Some people are so closed-minded they won’t allow it.”
Said Lerner, “They get after it every day. That’s the ‘Live,’ and it’s motivating . . . You put it all together and over many, many years, highs and lows, we’re family, and we’re definitely a team.”