When people think of the most well-known sports announcers in America, Jim Nantz has to be one of the first names that comes to mind. He has been the top play-by-play announcer on CBS’s NFL package since 2004, putting him on some of the most-watched broadcasts on TV — including five Super Bowls, with a sixth scheduled with the upcoming Super Bowl LV.
He’s also done play-by-play for nearly 30 Final Fours, but his favorite assignment every year might be calling the Masters. He has a stated goal of taking part in 50 years of Masters broadcasts, which would take him through 2035 and the age of 75. But it was one of his first Masters that he cites as a career highlight.
Jim Nantz’s career timeline
Nantz majored in broadcasting at the University of Houston and got his start in the industry as an anchor at Houston CBS affiliate KHOU in the early ’80s before moving on to KSL in Salt Lake City from 1982-85, where he did play-by-play for BYU football and Utah Jazz games.
From there, he joined CBS in 1985 and started as a studio host for the network’s coverage of college football and the NFL, as well as a course reporter for golf events.
He started doing the Final Four in 1991 and made the jump from studio to booth for NFL coverage 13 years later. He partnered with Phil Simms in the booth until 2017, when Tony Romo retired from the Cowboys and took over Simms’ spot as the network’s No. 1 analyst.
Lofty career goals have propelled him forward
Nantz was on Morten Andersen’s Great Dane Nation podcast and talked about what his career goals were in college. He played Division I golf at Houston, and the coach asked everyone to stand up and discuss what their goals were.
Nantz knew exactly what he wanted. He stood up, introduced himself, and said “one day I want to work for CBS Sports and I want to call the Masters.” One of his peers, and roommate, Fred Couples then stood up and revealed his goal. “One day I’d like to win the Masters” was Couples’ answer to the question.
Nantz told Andersen that from that point, he and Couples “had a connection. His career goal was the same place mine was: Augusta National.” Making it to Augusta — one of the world’s most iconic country clubs — is a lofty goal for anyone, whether you want to play in the Masters, announce it, or even view it as a patron. But that didn’t stop Nantz or Couples from achieving their goals.
Jim Nantz gets a heartwarming moment at Augusta
Not only did Nantz and Couples both make it to Augusta, but they shared a heartwarming moment that Nantz calls “the highlight of [his] career.” That moment came in 1992, which Nantz recalls was his “seventh or eighth year of broadcasting the Masters tournament.”
He was hosting the broadcast, which is who presides over the ceremony in which the tournament’s winner receives the coveted green jacket. Couples was participating in his ninth Masters that year, and to say he played well would be an understatement.
He finished 13-under par, winning the event by two strokes in what would turn out to be the only major championship of his prolific career. And Nantz was there to personally congratulate him.
Nantz recalled that day on the podcast, telling Andersen “Freddie won it, and I got to be there to present my old suitemate/roommate a green jacket.” That was a moment that Couples will never forget, and Nantz won’t forget it either knowing that it was his college buddy achieving a lifelong dream, with Nantz there to present him with the event’s legendary prize.