Legendary broadcaster Verne Lundquist to call final Masters in 2024

verne lundquist smiles in booth at the Masters in front of Augusta National's 16th hole

Verne Lundquist is gearing up for one last ride at the Masters in 2024.

Getty Images/Augusta National

Late one gorgeous April Sunday in Augusta, Ga., Tiger Woods stood on the cusp of golf immortality. Huddled in a small green tent just a few feet over Woods’ head, Verne Lundquist did the same.

Below Lundquist’s perch on the 16th hole at Augusta National, Woods’ focus lengthened. He was clinging to a late lead at the Masters, deadlocked in a duel with the suddenly hard-charging journeyman Chris DiMarco, and even the most casual observer could tell you that the tournament hung in the balance of his forthcoming greenside chip. Woods was in jail, his ball snugly between the first and second cuts on the wrong side of the putting surface’s wicked ridge line. Lanny Wadkins, Lundquist’s CBS colleague, saw the result of Woods’ overcooked tee shot and came to the assessment any sane person staring at the same chip shot from the same angle in the same circumstances would reach: Tiger was screwed.

“There’s a good chance he doesn’t get this inside this inside the mark of [DiMarco’s] ball,” Wadkins scoffed.

You know the rest. A perfect chip. A brief pause of the ball on the edge of the hole. And then … chaos.

Woods exploded. The crowd exploded. Lundquist exploded.

“Oh … my … goodness… OH WOW!In your LIFE have you ever seen anything like that?”

Woods had made the shot of his Masters life, and Lundquist had made the call of his.

There are other memories, historic ones, from Lundquist’s four decades calling the Masters for CBS, but history has a way of finding Tiger and Verne together. Which is perhaps why it was fitting that on Wednesday, the same day that Woods will address the press for the first time this year, CBS announced Lundquist will be retiring from his post upon the completion of his 40th Masters in April, the final chapter in a historic run at Augusta National.

Lundquist, who has called all but one Masters since 1983, is a tournament tradition unto himself, his voice one of the creature comforts of golf’s first major — particularly in the years following his retirement from CBS’s SEC coverage. It is strange to imagine a world in which Lundquist will no longer visit America’s living room during the second week in April. It is even stranger to imagine a world in which, after four decades as CBS’s announcer du jour, Lundquist’s voice may no longer be present at any major sporting event on the calendar.

Still, the end of Lundquist’s tenure is not a surprise. Now 84, he has let slip on a few occasions in recent years that his Masters career was nearing its conclusion.

“Sean [McManus, CBS Sports chairman]) and I had a recent talk about my work at Augusta,” Lundquist said in a 2022 interview. “I’m good to go for next year. That will be number 39, and he and I have agreed — and this is not announced and I don’t mean to jump the gun here — but in all likelihood, number 40 will likely be my last. Just because it will be time. I think that’s the plan.”

If this is the end for Lundquist, the 16th hole at Augusta National is a fitting location for a retirement party. He is perhaps best known to golf fans for his work every April in the small green tent perched above the par-3 (called the “16th hole tower” by CBS and Augusta National without a hint of hyperbole). From the beginning, the 16th was the perfect match for Lundquist, tying one of sports television’s most avuncular figures to one of Augusta National’s most dramatic holes. At a tournament known for decorum, the short par-3 has played an unusually boisterous role over the decades as a frequent site of both triumph and turmoil, and Lundquist has played an unusually memorable role in documenting it.

The most notable of all Lundquist’s Masters moments came in 2005, when he delivered the most-replayed call of his golf broadcasting career on Woods’ last-oscillation chip-in to seize the green jacket.

To the sports TV purist, there is some irony in that call becoming a famed piece of golf history. There is no wordplay in Lundquist’s language, no clever quip to meet the moment — hell, if you were turned away from the TV, you’d have a hard time knowing what sport you were watching. The same could be said of any number of Lundquist’s calls across other sports, a compendium of “oohs” and “aahs” that eschew even the most liberal interpretation of sports TV broadcaster rules. And yet if you were to pick the 10 best sports TV moments of the millennium, there is little doubt that “In your LIFE?!” would be among them.

This, in the simplest terms, is Lundquist’s superpower: It’s not so much what he’s saying, it’s how he’s saying it.

“Honest to god, all I was doing was reacting to what I saw in front of me,” Lundquist said years later of the Tiger chip-in. “I was reacting as if I was someone watching in the sports bar or in his or her living room.”

At the core of Lundquist’s genius is the first rule of sports broadcasting: consider the listener. In a job plagued by dulcet voices with empty polish, Lundquist has dared to show the audience his truest, most substantive self, even if that version occasionally distends into a chorus of noises that sounds only vaguely like English. His broadcast artistry may be Jackson Pollock, but his effect is undeniably Rockwellian.

“He is everybody’s couch,” Gary McCord, Lundquist’s former CBS teammate, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis in 2016. “There’s a nice shawl over you as you sit back and relax and listen to the wonderment of television.”

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Still, you would be wise not to mistake the comfort of Lundquist’s voice for callow. He leaves the sports TV industry as one of the most effective communicators in its history — a man who felt the joy and humanity of sport so purely, he convinced us to feel it, too. Other broadcasters have had better words, but none have had more heart.

Look no further than Masters Sunday 2019, 14 years and a lifetime after “in your LIFE?!” The characters were the same on that Sunday afternoon, but the story couldn’t have been much different. After heartbreak and self-destruction and injury and embarrassment, Tiger Woods approached the 16th tee in the same place he’d found himself on that idyllic Sunday in 2005: holding a late lead and chasing down a slice of golf immortality. Lundquist was in his usual perch in the tiny green tent.

This time, though, the thought of a Woods victory seemed not inevitable but impossible. The years had shown the cold-blooded terminator to be a mere mortal, one who carried the weight of scandal and an increasingly brittle frame. The world had left him for dead several times before he surged into contention. By the time Woods reached the 16th tee with the lead, not even the professional talkers had words.

Woods struck one of the shots of the tournament, a picture-perfect approach into the green’s ridge line that gravity coaxed back toward the flagstick. His ball came to rest a few feet from the hole, leaving a kick-in for a tournament-clinching birdie. Moments later, Woods poured in the putt.

He exploded. The crowd exploded. But this time, Lundquist didn’t.

From his perch, the broadcaster stayed quiet as pandemonium set in below. He waited a few long seconds, allowing the ovation to soften and the green to clear. A wave of reality crested over the viewing audience: Tiger Woods was going to win the Masters.

And then, just when it seemed he might not say anything at all, Lundquist delivered the knockout blow.

“I feel compelled to say,” he said, his voice tilting ever so slightly with wonder.

“Oh … my … goodness …”

You can reach the author at james.colgan@golf.com. To receive golf-media exclusives before they reach the web, subscribe to the Hot Mic Newsletter below.

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James Colgan

Golf.com 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 james.colgan@golf.com.