For better or worse, the USGA has a new television home. Monday, the U.S. Open host and Fox Sports announced they would be parting ways effective immediately, halfway through a reported 12-year, $1.1 billion dollar deal. The USGA will saunter on largely unaffected, with NBC Sports picking up the remainder of the broadcast contract at its originally bargained price. But Fox now moves forward without not only the national championship but the sport of golf in its entirety.
While Fox’s exit (along with its tech-forward broadcast) leaves a hole in the golf television space, it leaves a much more personal void among the people who worked tireless hours every year to create the show. People like play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck, who commandeered Fox’s U.S. Open coverage for all five years of its existence.
While Buck occasionally drew the ire of golf fans for his commentary, he took to Twitter Monday to share his thoughts (and gratitude) for his years at the event.
“Nantz, Hicks, Tirico all better at calling golf than me — but I would put our production up against anybody’s,” Buck said. “Our innovation and drone shots and overall effort to try new things pushed golf coverage forward and for that I am most proud. Our producer Mark Loomis was a master tutor.”
Buck, who is a seven-time Emmy Award-winner, is a single-digit handicap and avid golfer. As part of Fox’s agreement with the USGA, Buck joined the network’s golf coverage as its top on-air talent. In 2015, he called Jordan Spieth’s dramatic Chambers Bay victory on his first U.S. Open broadcast.
“There is nothing better than walking by a driving range (sorry @USGA – practice tee) on the way to call our national championship,” Buck continued. “I could sit there all day and watch swings. so many of the guys were so welcoming to me and us and so thankful for that.”
Buck was an instrumental figure in the growth of the Fox broadcast from Chambers Bay through to a record-setting ratings performance at Pebble Beach in 2019.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what we did in 5 years,” Buck said. “To leave the stage after last year at Pebble Beach is a great feeling. We are a close group and grateful for what we got to do.”
For now, Buck rides off into the sunset with a line on his golf resume that’s hard to pity: lead broadcaster for five U.S. Opens spanning Oakmont, Pebble Beach and Shinnecock. Or in other words, par for the course for a self-professed “lucky bastard.”