Nick Faldo on TV: A Break with the Brits of Old

Peter Alliss

Among many intriguing reflections on his early exposure to golf, champion-turned-broadcaster Nick Faldo has an interesting take on the English golf commentators who came before him. Faldo’s thoughts on that subject follow:  “Henry Longhurst and Peter Alliss (photo at left)  get the nod as the BBC’s two great talkers on golf telecasts. During the 1970s when I was first interested in golf, I remember how Longhurst seemed to be reciting poetry on the air. People loved it, but I found it frustrating. Instead of well-turned phrases I wanted specific information about the shots being played. Alliss or Longhurst would rattle off terminology—’he’ll be playing a little punch shot here,’ or ‘that’s his hold-off swing with the 7-iron.’ Sitting at home watching I would be wondering what the hell is a hold-off, and when he plays a punch shot how exactly does he grip it and set up and make the swing?

“My gripes about Longhurst reflect my commentary style today. Lately I’ve been getting

Nick Faldo

 out to the range on a regular basis, to gather the sort of information I always wanted as a viewer. I’ll ask players about their technique and what they’re feeling. Basically I’m wondering, ‘What is your stock shot?’ or ‘What is your go-to shot?’ Some will give a detailed, specific answer, and others will seem like they’re answering but what comes out is completely vague. Geoff Ogilvy, when I asked him, ‘What is your natural shot shape?’ told me, ‘It changes every month.’ So I know not to say something on the air about Ogilvy’s intended ball flight if I haven’t spoken to him lately.

“Camillo Villegas answered that same question with no delay. He gripped the club in his left hand, held it at impact, then showed me three or four adjustments for his draw, his straight shot, his cut, and maybe a low cut. ‘I do this, I do this, I do this and I do this,’ he said, adjusting his wrist slightly each time. So that was my low-down on Villegas and the shots he plays—they’re all driven by what he does with his left wrist.

“Little points of technique are interesting to a good segment of the audience, so I’ll be sliding them in when I can.”

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