Before Covering the Masters, ESPN Analyst Curtis Strange Reflects on a Quarter Century of Calling Golf
The World Golf Hall Of Famer credits former ABC and ESPN colleague Mike Tirico and current ESPN exec Mike McQuade among those who have helped him excel as a TV storyteller, too
AUGUSTA, Ga. – This week, World Golf Hall of Famer Curtis Strange is appearing across ESPN platforms as an analyst for coverage of the Masters Tournament.
The Virginia native, who won 17 times on the PGA TOUR during his playing career, including consecutive U.S. Opens in 1988 and 1989, reflected on his second career as a TV analyst, which began in 1995. The first PGA player to win $1 million in a single year (1988), Strange demonstrated great potential as a commentator, too.
“The head of ABC’s golf coverage called and asked me to do three tournaments,” said Strange. “They wanted me to come and join the booth after I finished playing in those tournaments. It was a wonderful opportunity, and I said sure.”
In 1996, ABC asked him to join its broadcast team full-time.
“I turned it down simply because I just wasn’t ready – I was still playing,” he said. “But I wasn’t playing well. So they asked again at the end of ‘96 for ‘97 – it was a very tough decision. I accepted.”
That led to eight years in the ABC golf booth with Mike Tirico, whom Strange gives ample credit to for helping him learn to be a broadcaster.
“All of the other announcers embraced me and allowed me to do what I wanted to do, or what I thought I should do because I didn’t know,” he said. “I’d been to the booth enough to understand the system, but every day you learn a better way to say something, and that still never ends to this day.”
When Strange turned 50, he left ABC and played on the Champions Tour.
But after just over two years, he was playing the 2007 U.S. Senior Open and got a call from Mike McQuade, ESPN Vice President, Executive Producer, who oversees golf coverage.
“He called me out of the blue and asked if I would consider working the next year’s U.S. Open with Tirico as a host,” he said. “That turned into me currently working for ESPN — that one phone call.
Mondays can be magical: Curtis Strange topped Nick Faldo in a playoff at The Country Club to capture the 1988 #USOpen title. pic.twitter.com/hE4MxSsIdE
— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) July 24, 2017
“He gave me an opportunity that was huge in my life because I never thought I’d get back in TV again, and I really, really enjoyed it,” he said. “I was enjoying the senior tour, but I wasn’t playing well, and I would have been floundering out there for a long time. I’m 68 and still working for ESPN, and I owe it all to him.
“It’s nice to think back on some of those times,” he said. “You make that decision at 42, and you have no idea if that’s right or wrong. But it all worked out.”
ESPN airs live coverage of the first and second rounds of the Masters on Thursday and Friday from 3-7:30 p.m. ET. Visit ESPN PressRoom for details