At the Masters, North reflects on “26 years of this craziness” as an ESPN analyst

ESPN golf analyst Andy North on the SportsCenter set at the Masters with anchor Sage Steele. (Andy Hall/ESPN)
ESPN golf analyst Andy North on the SportsCenter set at the Masters with anchor Sage Steele.
(Andy Hall/ESPN)

AUGUSTA, Ga. – A quarter of a century ago, Andy North gave television a try, temporarily – he thought – putting his professional golf career on hold while his body healed from multiple surgeries.

But North and TV clicked. The golfing career that included two U.S. Open championships, for the most part, stayed on hold. And he’s now in his 26th year with ESPN.

This week at the Masters Tournament, North is serving as an analyst for SportsCenter at golf’s first major of the year. ESPN’s coverage continues today with a live telecast of the second round from 3-7:30 p.m. ET, with SportsCenter, reports throughout the weekend.

North spoke with Front Row about his ESPN career:

How did your television career start?
Basically, I went through a stretch from ‘86 to ‘93 where I had an operation every single year, from elbow to knees to neck to whatever, and at some point, in time Steve Beim and Andy Young who were producing and directing our ESPN golf at the time asked if I wanted to try doing some television. You go through the rehab, and you think you can still play so I turned them down two years in a row, and thank heavens they kept asking me. Finally [reporter] Gary Koch fell and broke his ankle, and I did an event in ’92 at Quad Cities. Afterward, they said we really want you to give this a fair chance, and I started the next year with the idea that if I took a year off maybe my body could heal up a little bit and maybe I could play after that. But I really enjoyed it and it’s been 26 years of this craziness.

What’s been the best part of this for you?
First, the great friendships and comraderies that we’ve had at ESPN with the people we’ve worked with all these years. A lot of us started off not having a clue and kind of grew together in the business and the industry. It’s been fantastic to get to work with [Chris] Berman and [Mike] Tirico and [Scott] Van Pelt and so many other great, great people – Jim Kelly in the very beginning was amazing to work with – the producers and directors, from a professional standpoint it has been fantastic.

The other thing was to be part of Tiger Woods and what he was able to do. We were here at Augusta – Tirico and I did a lot of stuff here for SportsCenter the year he won in ’97. I was with him in the last group when he won at Vegas in ’96, and probably walked down the last fairway with him when he won 20-25 times. To be able to see greatness up close is pretty neat.

North, family visited White House After ’85 U.S. Open win
On June 25, 1985, President Ronald Reagan (L) greets (L-R) Nichole, Susan, Andrea and Andy North in the Oval Office. North won the 1985 U.S. Open. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library)
On June 25, 1985, President Ronald Reagan (L) greets (L-R) Nichole, Susan, Andrea and Andy North in the Oval Office. (Photo courtesy of Ronald Reagan Library)

As a perk for winning his second U.S. Open in 1985, Andy North was invited to visit the White House with his family to meet President Ronald Reagan.

With wife Susan and young daughters Nichole and Andrea, North met the president in the Oval Office on June 25, 1985.

Andrea North, who was six at the time, had been nervous about saying hello to Reagan but made a deal with her father to do it in return for a Cabbage Patch doll and $10 – the monetary part negotiated by her after her dad offered the toy.

“When we got there, she ran in first, ahead of us, stuck out her hand and said hello Mr. President!” North said. “Then she turned around, jumped into her mother’s arms, and said ‘I did it!’”

– Andy Hall

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