Jim Nantz is synonymous with The Masters Tournament, hosting CBS Sports’ coverage for 33 straight years and covering the tournament for the network for 35 years overall. And If Nantz has his way, he’ll be the voice of the Masters for a very long time.
The 61-year old sports commentator has previously mused about becoming the first sportscaster to call 50 Masters on television. That would take him through age 75 in 2035.
But Nantz feels good. Forget about 50 years. He could become the first broadcaster to call 60 Masters telecasts — or more — when he would be well into his 80’s.
“I used to joke around in speaking engagements: I know my retirement date already. God willing, my health stays well, and CBS willing, that April 8, 2035, would be the way I would love to close out my career,” said Nantz, referring to the projected Sunday final round of the 2035 Masters.
“But here we are all of a sudden and that’s now well within sight. I’m feeling really young. Got a couple of young kids who are 4 and 6 years old. That date is way too close for me to be talking about retirement. So I would like to push it out for another, who knows, several years at least.”
Nantz, a member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, is responsible for many of the Masters’ greatest media moments for CBS, which has broadcast the tournament a record 65 straight years.
He coined the catchphrase “A Tradition Unlike Any Other.” Augusta National Golf Club has since trademarked his slogan and slapped it on merchandise.
In 2019, Nantz declared “The Return to Glory,” as Tiger Woods rolled in the tournament-clinching putt on No. 18 to win his fifth green jacket and complete his improbable comeback from personal/physical problems.
Nantz and lead analyst Sir Nick Faldo then wisely stayed silent for more than two minutes as the crowd chanted, “Tiger, Tiger, Tiger,” and a victorious Woods scooped up his children in his arms.
Calling Fred Couples’ Masters win in 1992 had personal meaning for Nantz. The duo were college buddies and roommates at the University of Houston’s golf team. Back in 1986, a 26-year old Nantz called his first Masters for CBS.
The young broadcaster was on the mic as Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus launched a legendary final-round charge that netted him his sixth green jacket at age 46.
Even then, Nantz showed his chops for the big TV moment. As Nicklaus drained a birdie putt on No. 16 to tie for the lead, he intoned: “The Bear has come out of hibernation.” People still quote the line to him today, he said.
As CBS’s top play-by-play announcer, Nantz calls everything from the Super Bowl and NFL with Tony Romo to the NCAA’s annual “March Madness” tournament. But no sportscaster is more associated with a single event than Nantz and the Masters.
In recent years, the entrepreneurial broadcaster has established several lucrative side businesses.
He co-founded a high-end wine label, “The Calling,” with Peter Deutsch, chief executive officer of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. He models his own golf apparel collection for Vineyard Vines. But it always comes back to CBS, Augusta National, and the Masters.
It could be one of CBS’ most epic Masters TV moments. Nick Faldo, Dottie Pepper answer whether DeChambeau could drive 445-yard, 1st hole.
He narrates and executive produces the popular documentary series, “Jim Nantz Remembers Augusta.” Over the years, he’s zeroed in on some of the most famous tournaments, including Couples’ victory in 1992, Nicklaus’ wins in 1986 and 1975 and Arnold Palmer’s come-from-behind triumph in 1960.
It’s a course Nantz dreamed about playing as a youngster. A tournament he’s practiced calling on TV since he was a kid.
Why wouldn’t Nantz still be calling the Masters into his 80’s?
ESPN’s Hubie Brown is still going strong at age 87. Ditto for 85-year old Lee Corso and 81-year old Dick Vitale.
CBS’s own Verne Lundquist is 80. He’s at his familiar perch this year at Augusta’s 16th hole where he famously punctuated Woods’ chip-in during the 2005 Masters by exclaiming, “In your life, have you seen anything like that?”
Nantz said he’s got the “same kind of intensity running” through his veins as he did when dreaming of the Masters 50 years ago.
“I don’t want to let go of it. So scratch the retirement talk in ’35. Let’s just see how long we can go,” he said.