In 2021, The Masters returns to its regularly-scheduled time in April. For those who like to listen to golf on the radio for whatever reason, you may notice a familiar voice. Greg Norman will be part of the SiriusXM radio broadcast of the tournament. This will mark the legendary golfer’s return to the mic after a brief time working USGA events with Fox Sports.
There were multiple reasons why his stint with Fox lasted less than a year.
Greg Norman and Fox Sports enter a new phase
Fox Sports turned heads across the sports world when they picked up the rights to USGA golf events, including the U.S. Open, starting in 2015. For a brand that built itself on “Fox attitude,” golf seemed like the last possible thing that could fit in that portfolio. No network with the Fox name on it had ever broadcast a major golf event, so fans had reasons to be skeptical.
That skepticism only intensified when Fox announced the crew for its golf coverage. Much of the team were transplants from Fox’s other sports who had next to no experience covering golf and looked completely out of place. These included Curt Menefee, Tim Brando, Joel Klatt, and of course, history’s greatest monster — Joe Buck.
Working alongside Buck in the booth for the 2015 U.S. Open would be Greg Norman, who came in second twice at the event. This would be his first experience in broadcasting in any capacity. He had a tough act to follow, as he would fill the shoes of NBC’s beloved and controversial Johnny Miller.
Fox Sports’ golf failure is an utter disaster
Golf viewers saw their worst fears realized at the 2015 U.S. Open, as Fox Sports’ major golf debut was plagued by technical, graphic, and human errors. The broadcast received scathing reviews across the board. Ironically, fans took particular issue with Greg Norman, despite the fact that he was one of the few people on the broadcast with any golf experience.
The low point came on the final hole, when Dustin Johnson three-putted to hand Jordan Spieth the championship. As Fox cycled through emotional shots of Spieth celebrating his win and Johnson breaking down, Norman inexplicably went silent and added no insight to the moment.
In fairness, Fox’s golf coverage improved over time, but fans never really got over the terrible first impression from 2015. One positive they always had was their excellent theme music. While they did not carry over Yanni’s beloved “In Celebration of Man” from NBC, they did commission a new theme from Hollywood composer Brian Tyler.
Fox’s original contract with the USGA ran until 2027. However, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the 2020 U.S. Open into September, which brought it into conflict with Fox and FS1’s football coverage. As a result, Fox shifted the 2020 USGA events — and the remainder of their contract — to NBC.
Greg Norman has no regrets about how things ended with Fox
Unfortunately, Greg Norman wasn’t with Fox for very long. The backlash was so severe that six months after the tournament, Fox Sports replaced Norman with former ESPN analyst Paul Azinger. This would be the second time that Azinger took advantage of Norman’s misfortune. During their pro careers, Azinger defeated Norman in a playoff to win the 1993 PGA Championship at Inverness in Ohio.
“I felt like I got rolled under the bus,” Norman said in an interview with Front Office Sports. “I’m not going to mention names or point fingers at other people. But I definitely fairly and squarely got hammered with that. Pretty hard, unfairly.”
Despite the unfortunate way things ended for him at Fox, Norman doesn’t regret his first step into broadcasting, nor does he hold any ill will toward the people who gave him his first shot. In fact, Norman even hopes for Fox to re-enter golf coverage one day.
“It was just disappointing that I didn’t keep going with it,” said Norman. “For Fox to be out of golf is a crying shame. I hope they get back into it.”