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High-Tech Golf Analysis

June 6, 2015

The following story appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of The Buzz Magazine. Click here to read the entire issue.

By Adam Van Brimmer

– Charlie Rymer chuckles as he recounts how he spent his last few minutes of preparation for his debut as a lead golf analyst.

He should have been reviewing his notes one last time. Or working the phone in hopes of a last-minute scoop or player nugget. Or discussing cues or other technical issues with the rest of the broadcast team.

Jackets on the air in photos (courtesy of Golf Channel)

But in the moments before appearing on televisions in 168 countries, Rymer instead found himself reminiscing about his Georgia Tech education.

“The closest I came to anything remotely relevant to broadcasting was a public speaking class, and I made a D,” Rymer said. “I’m thinking, ‘Georgia Tech must be a hell of a school.'”

Georgia Tech turns out a helluva broadcaster as well as an engineer, at least if the current Golf Channel talent lineup is any indication. Rymer is one of three former Yellow Jackets who work as analysts for the cable television network. Tripp Isenhour and David Duval, Rymer’s teammates on the 1990 Georgia Tech golf team, are the other two.

Rymer joined the Golf Channel in 2008 after a decade with ESPN and is the co-host of the Morning Drive, a daily golf news and lifestyle program. Isenhour moved from the golf course to the studio four years ago and is a studio analyst for Golf Central, the network’s daily evening news program. Duval came to work as an analyst earlier this year and helps with Golf Channel’s coverage of golf’s major championships and other select events.

The trio don’t see each other nearly as much now as they did in leading the Yellow Jackets to the 1990 NCAA Championship finals. Rymer is often leaving Golf Channel’s complex in Orlando after a hard early day’s work when Isenhour is coming in to prepare for his evening broadcast, and Duval does most of his analysis at tournament sites.

“Even though we really don’t work together, it’s interesting to have three announcers at the same network from the same school, especially one without journalism or broadcasting programs, and it’s downright odd that all three of us played together on the same team,” Rymer said.

Odder still is the fact that these former Yellow Jackets played no role in recruiting each other to the network.

Thinking a shot ahead

Rymer and Isenhour began preparing for their second careers while still engaged in their first careers as PGA Tour players.

Both built friendships with members of the broadcast teams that shadow the PGA Tour from tournament to tournament. They parlayed those relationships into guest analyst appearances while still on tour then into tryouts and part-time work in the twilight of their playing careers. Golf announcers Gary McCord, Peter Kostis, Bill McAtee and others encouraged Rymer to put on a headset, while a producer friend seduced Isenhour into broadcasting by recruiting him to help with coverage of the PGA Tour’s developmental circuit, the Tour.

“The best job in the world is being a player,” Isenhour said. “The second best job is to be on the golf course talking about being a player.”

As for Duval, he was the best player in the world at one point, with 13 PGA Tour titles and a major championship win at the 2001 British Open. Such a pedigree put him in high demand but it wasn’t until recently that he decided to participate from the press box instead of the tee box.

His former Georgia Tech teammates say Duval brings invaluable insight to network broadcasts: That of a major champion who rivaled the best player of this generation and one of the greatest of all-time, Tiger Woods.

“He has great content–he’s been in situations few have experienced, and he’s smart enough and personable enough to engage with the audience,” Rymer said. “He’s a natural and once he figures out how all the TV stuff goes together, he’s going to be as successful in the studio as he was on the course.

“I hope so, because I’d like to see him around more.”

Lessons learned on and off course

While the big reunion party remains pending, the presence of three former Yellow Jackets on the same broadcast team has sparked memories.

The relationship between Rymer and Isenhour goes back to their junior golf days. They were close enough they roomed together as Georgia Tech freshmen and then became close friends and friendly practice rivals later in their college careers.

Duval is three years younger and was a freshman when Rymer and Isenhour were seniors. But his talent – he was the team’s No. 1 player during the one season the trio played together – granted him equals status.

“We were all very competitive with each other that year, but we always wanted the team to win,” Isenhour said. “David was so good, we were excited to have him. He made us better players.”

All three profess their time at Georgia Tech has proved valuable to their second careers. While none credit the Institute’s narrow communications course offerings for their broadcasting success, all say Tech prepared them for their latest professional pursuits.

“Georgia Tech teaches you to survive, to reinvent yourself,” Rymer said. “Every day was a test. Every day you had to have that ability to find a level of comfort in situation that was always changing. When an athlete comes into television, they don’t train you, they throw you into the deep end of the pool and see if you can swim.”

Thanks to Georgia Tech, they’re all drown-proofed.


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