Why Geoff Ogilvy needs to be in the commentary booth
He’s not going to commit to it just yet, but Geoff Ogilvy is the man Australian golf wants behind the TV mic this summer.
I am far from the first person to suggest it. For a decade or so the Melburnian has been labelled “The best interview in golf”, not a tag bestowed by the golf media lightly. But those of us who have seen his career – and life – progress know there’s definitely a place for him in the Fourth Estate.
I first observed Ogilvy’s golf when he was the midway co-leader of the 1995 Victorian Open when he was still an amateur. It took until the week after he won the 2006 US Open before I met him. By a piece of sheer good fortune, that year’s July issue, which went on-sale the day before that US Open began, had Ogilvy on our cover for the first time. As we talked that day, he seemed almost distracted by the magazine’s presence on the desk between us. He kept glancing at it, as if coming to terms with his sudden stardom. He also had this odd habit of squeezing and tugging at the tip of his nose. Although he had just flown from a muggy New York summer to a frigid Melbourne winter, meaning his senses might have been a little haywire.
But he spoke, and spoke with an eloquence and candour that belied his life-changing moment and his tender 29 years. I’ve said it to anyone who’ll listen ever since: “Geoff Ogilvy could read the phone book aloud and make it sound interesting.”
“Geoff Ogilvy could read the phone book aloud and make it sound interesting.”
Which is why, more than anyone else in Australian golf, I would like to hear Ogilvy’s thoughts during TV broadcasts. He even has a little pedigree, if you will. He is related to Judy Rankin, the Hall of Fame LPGA player-turned TV analyst. Rankin’s son is married to Ogilvy’s wife’s sister.
So I put the question to him: do you have any interest in it?
“I haven’t yet,” came the considered if diplomatic reply. “I’m certainly not saying no, but it’s not something that at this moment gets me all enthusiastic. I still view myself too much as a golfer, I think – not that you can’t be a golfer and do that. It’s one of the things that could happen down the road, I would say. We’ll see.
“It’s not something at the moment that I’m interested in doing regularly. If I was going to travel around and go to golf tournaments, I would rather be playing golf tournaments than doing that. My head would still be there. But down the road, who knows?
“You certainly can’t play and do that – you’ve kind of got to do one or the other if you want to do either of them your best. We’ll see how it evolves.”
Now the ability to speak and display knowledge and expertise is one thing; to do so under the bright lights of television cameras and microphones is another. The link between what you’re thinking and your mouth needs to be sharp and you have to remain succinct in conveying your thoughts – and not everyone has that. It’s a talent and a skill. Yet I think Ogilvy would make the transition seamlessly.
I hope someday we get to find out just how well.