Report: NBC to hold auditions for Paul Azinger’s replacement

brandel chamblee and paul mcginley laugh on microphone at charity event

Brandel Chamblee and Paul McGinley are among the voices who have been considered for NBC Golf's lead analyst job in replacement of Paul Azinger.

Getty Images/Phil Inglis

It seems the question is no longer who’s going to replace Paul Azinger atop NBC Golf’s broadcasts?

Rather, it’s who’s next?

On Wednesday afternoon, Front Office Sports‘ Michael McCarthy reported that the network will handle the business of finding its next lead analyst voice via a “rolling audition” that will run several weeks — and events — into the new year. The work will see NBC test out a host of different voices in the lead chair during the start of the 2024 PGA Tour season in the hopes of landing a lead voice by the time its premier events — the Players, U.S. Open and Open Championship — roll around. According to the report, a host of internal names are in consideration for the role, including analysts Brad Faxon, Justin Leonard and Brandel Chamblee.

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

On Sunday, the Hot Mic reported on Kevin Kisner’s apparent two-event audition to start 2024 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and WM Phoenix Open. Kisner, a four-time PGA Tour winner and popular podcast personality, was a surprise choice for a broadcast role in that he has full PGA Tour status through the conclusion of the 2024 season. When Kisner’s former Tour contemporary Smylie Kaufman joined the NBC booth in 2022, it was only after his full-time Tour status had lapsed. Other non-NBC names who have been tied to the network in recent weeks are 2006 U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy and 2001 Open champ David Duval. Ogilvy is a candid, well-regarded voice with limited broadcast experience, while Duval has served as ESPN’s lead PGA Championship analyst for the last three years to wide acclaim. Paul McGinley, another NBC analyst who broadcasted the Hero World Challenge in the lead chair, is believed to be in the running.

While NBC’s list certainly includes an impressive — if not diverse — grouping of names, it remains puzzling that the network has elected to pursue such a high-profile interview process. When CBS hired Trevor Immelman as its lead analyst upon Nick Faldo’s retirement in 2022, the network quietly interviewed candidates for months before settling on Immelman before the start of its 2023 season — a decision that had the added effect of giving Immelman and the CBS team time to adjust to one another’s tendencies by the time the Masters arrived. In theory, NBC could still achieve the same under this process in time for the U.S. Open, but it’s hard to see how the broadcast will be truly settled before the start of ’25.

Screen tests, the practice of simulating a broadcast to see a potential partner’s fit, are common practice in the sports broadcasting industry. And while it’s harder to simulate the many moving pieces and parts of a golf broadcast for a test environment than it is for, say, a basketball or football game, the network has apparently decided to let those tests play out over the air, and not at NBC studios in Stamford where the hiring process could be expedited considerably.

One reason is that NBC could be testing to see how each name fares among the golf public. While Faxon, Leonard and Duval are relatively well-traveled names in the golf TV world, Kisner and Ogilvy are wildcards without any prior experience. Chamblee, on the other hand, is a brilliant analyst and prolific speaker, but has attracted a torrent of public criticism for his outspoken opinions on LIV Golf. In testing each in the lead chair, NBC could be giving the audience a voice in its eventual decision.

kevin kisner swings golf club
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By: James Colgan

The candidates are each vying to replace Paul Azinger, another player-turned-golf TV lifer whose contract was not renewed by NBC after five years as the network’s lead analyst. Azinger received rave reviews when he was hired away from Fox to fill in for the retiring Johnny Miller in 2018, but he eventually wore out his welcome with the golf audience. As his contract progressed, Azinger was frequently the target of criticism for sharing misinformation or overgeneralized analysis, while Azinger’s tenor often focused on his disdain for his own industry — the so-called “golf media” — in the course of NBC’s coverage.

NBC surely hopes its new hire is received more welcomingly than Azinger was at the end of his contract; the network is approaching the halfway point of a 10-year, multi-billion-dollar rights deal with the PGA Tour that sees it pay out upwards of $350 million annually.

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