Being publicly critical of PGA Tour players can put some broadcasters in a tough position. For one thing, many of them are former players themselves, so they likely have a personal relationship, for better or worse, with the people they’re talking about. That can make it tough to be objective when they need to be.
Brandel Chamblee is one analyst who says he makes it a point not to get to know players. In an appearance on GOLF’s Subpar podcast last summer, Chamblee told hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz that he prefers to remain indifferent.
“I think my job is incompatible with being friends with Tour players,” Chamblee said. “It’s not my job to be their friends, it’s my job to analyze them.”
Rich Beem, winner of the 2002 PGA Championship at Hazeltine, sees things differently. The 51-year-old is an analyst for Sky Sports, and on this week’s episode of Subpar, he said he not only disagrees with Chamblee’s rationale, he actually told him so to his face.
“I listened to your podcast that you had Brandel on, and I actually specifically went up to him and said, you know what? You’re wrong,” Beem said. “I said, you do need to have a relationship with the guys on the driving range. You do need to be friends with them to a point, because you can’t judge everything that you see just by how they’re hitting the golf ball, how they’re swinging, this and that.
“You have no idea whether or not this player’s mother is sick,” Beem continued. “You need to understand what is going on in these players’ worlds, because what happens inside the ropes for a player, as we all definitely know, it is partially golf-related, and inside, your mental, but we are not robots. If somebody in your family is not doing well, if anything, anything off-course is going on, it’s going to affect you inside the ropes and there is no getting away from it. This is the real world. This is how it all happens.”
Beem said that he likes checking in on the players, but tends to spend more time picking the brain of their caddie.
“I think the caddies have a better understanding of what’s going on with the player,” Beem said. “The caddies are the truth. They are the reality of it. They know what’s going on.”
For more from Beem, including his memories of his PGA win and what it was like battling Tiger, check out the full interview below.