Your next NBC lead analyst tryout? Brandel Chamblee

Brandel Chamblee walks course at 2023 U.S. Open

Brandel Chamblee will make his NBC Golf debut this weekend at the American Express.

Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The NBC Golf tryout cycle rolls on into the early portion of the 2024 PGA Tour season, which means a new voice is entering the lead analyst chair for this weekend’s coverage of the American Express. His name?

Brandel Chamblee.

On Wednesday afternoon, the network confirmed that Chamblee would make his long-awaited debut in the lead chair in Palm Springs, giving the tenured NBC/Golf Channel voice the opportunity to make his pitch for the lead analyst position vacated by Paul Azinger late last year.

NBC has been undergoing tryouts for the lead analyst role since Azinger’s departure in December, an unusual effort that will see a series of voices — including some who are not NBC employees — take the reins for a week or two at the start of this NBC season while a host of network executives make a final determination on who should be in the role full time. Chamblee was an early name rumored for the Azinger role after the network decided not to extend Azinger’s contract at the end of the 2023 season.

“I’m not sure which way NBC is leaning in that regard,” Chamblee told GOLF in December. “But they have asked me to call some live golf and I’m happy to go wherever they want me.”

Chamblee is the third name to try out for the lead analyst role, and he’s unlikely to be the last. Chamblee’s Live From sparring partner (and good friend) Paul McGinley started the process in December at the Hero World Challenge. He was followed at the start of the new year by PGA Tour pro Kevin Kisner, whose debut at the Sentry earned rave reviews. Other names who have been tied to the network include Justin Leonard and David Duval.

While he has become a polarizing figure in the golf world in the last few years due to his unapologetic criticisms of LIV Golf and the Saudi government, Chamblee remains a revered figure within NBC for his remarkable oratory gifts and attention to detail. While those gifts have at times gotten him into hot water with the golf audience, there is little questioning that he is one of the most talented pure golf analysts at NBC in his primary role on Golf Channel’s suite of programming.

His theoretical hiring would represent a notable shift for golf’s biggest broadcast networks with the lead analyst role. The role has traditionally only been filled by major champions — the thinking being that only those who have experienced the biggest moments in the sport are apt to explain to viewers what they mean. This approach has fueled some speculation that prior major winners like Duval and Geoff Ogilvy could be given preferential treatment in the tryout process.

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The truth, though, is that sports television has been moving in a different direction for some time now. Many of the most popular analysts and talking heads are known more for their television careers than they are for their playing acumen — and the skills required to reach that level of fame within the sports-watching community are tied more to principles of entertainment than depth of experience. In other words, while there’s certainly still a premium on interesting, incisive analysis, the credentials of the person delivering that analysis seem to matter less than ever. (Take former Colts punter Pat McAfee’s success on YouTube, for example, which led to a reported $75 million licensing deal from ESPN. Or Charles Barkley’s success as both a basketball analyst, a sport in which he is a hall-of-fame player, and golf provocateur, a sport in which he is decidedly not.)

In many ways, Chamblee fits the modern mold: a trained television voice with an instinct for entertainment and a willingness to go against the grain. As NBC attempts to redirect the path forward for a golf broadcast that has gone stale in recent years, adding Brandel’s voice would give the network a distinctive quality to its coverage that it lacked in the later days of Azinger’s tenure.

Of course, all of that remains speculation for today. The big news, the headline news, is that this is only a tryout — how the audience and the powers that be at NBC enjoy his efforts at the American Express will ultimately be the determining factors for his future in the lead analyst chair.

The good news for Brandel? About the least interesting part of his debut will be his performance in front of the microphone this weekend. After all, NBC knows what it has in the former pro-turned-analyst, who has been a staple of the network’s golf coverage for more than two decades.

James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at