Paul Azinger’s time as the lead analyst for NBC Golf is over.
NBC has elected not to re-sign Azinger, ending a four-year stint as the lead voice of the network’s professional golf coverage. The Associated Press‘ Doug Ferguson first reported the news, which was subsequently confirmed by Azinger himself.
“I have treasured working beside Dan Hicks and the other talented NBC broadcasters, as well as lead producer Tommy Roy and all those behind the scenes,” Azinger said in a statement to Steve Eubanks. “They are a remarkable team, and I will miss them tremendously. My thanks to them and the countless others who have supported me and helped me along the way during my work in television. I have faith in what the future holds for me, for NBC, and for the great game of golf.”
Azinger stepped into the lead chair in 2019 after a stint in the same role at Fox, where he helped head up the network’s USGA championship coverage. The former Ryder Cup captain was a popular hire among the Fox team, where his work ethic and team-first approach served was welcomed.
He joined NBC as the successor to legendary golf analyst Johnny Miller, who retired upon the completion of the 2018 season after 29 years in the lead chair. At the time, Azinger’s hiring was largely lauded in the sport, and he was viewed as a safe bet to carry the torch forward for the network.
Golf’s stakeholders clearly agreed. In 2020, only Azinger’s second year in the chair, NBC signed a nine-year, multi-billion-dollar TV rights extension with the PGA Tour, guaranteeing the network rights to live golf through the end of the decade. Just months later, the network also wrangled free the USGA TV rights from Fox, returning the U.S. Open to its longtime home on NBC.
At the time, it seemed Azinger was on a path to becoming the preeminent analyst in golf, succeeding Miller’s legacy. But as it would turn out, those good feelings were short-lived. As time wore on, public opinion turned against Azinger’s folksy, often instinct-driven analysis. On more than a handful of occasions, sharp viewers pointed out that his analysis was, in fact, at odds with easily accessible statistics or information. In critical moments, audiences grew frustrated with his tendency to overgeneralize using quips and aphorisms rather than information.
As the criticism mounted, Azinger appeared to go on the defensive, frequently deriding and dismissing the “media” during NBC’s coverage — a curious decision considering his role as arguably golf media’s preeminent voice. The situation came to a head at the Ryder Cup, where Azinger entered himself into the story surrounding Patrick Cantlay’s purported hatless protest by ripping the report as “clickbait garbage,” an allegation that subsequent reporting proved untrue.
NBC separately confirmed the news to GOLF.com and offered a statement of its own.
“We want to thank Paul for his work with us over the last five years,” a network spokesperson said. “His insights, work ethic and relationships in the golf industry are well known, and we appreciate what he brought to our team. We wish Paul the best in his future endeavors.”
NBC’s decision to move on from Azinger represents just the latest in a stretch of golf personnel changes for the network, which elected not to renew the contracts of longtime analysts Roger Maltbie and Gary Koch last year, while also shifting lead interviewer Kathryn Tappen back to college football. The network’s youth movement in golf matches some of the recent changes it has made across its sports portfolio, which is anchored by veteran Mike Tirico but has gradually lurched younger with the addition and promotion of voices like Maria Taylor, Noah Eagle, Chris Simms and Jac Collinsworth in recent years.
NBC did not immediately indicate who was in line to succeed Azinger, but we could find out his successor at this month’s Hero World Challenge, the same tournament NBC announced its staffing changes in 2022.