The Masters this year gave us one of the most historic sports scenes in recent memory, as Tiger Woods completed his incredible comeback by winning his fifth green jacket and 15th major title overall. It was one of those, “where were you when it happened” kind of times in sports, with fans detailing all sorts of great memories from Tiger’s victory at Augusta National.
While most of us watched on TV, there was one person who has been lucky enough to be calling The Masters for years, CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz. That soft, calming voice of Nantz’s has been heard coming through your TV screen for decades at sporting events like the NCAA Tournament and the Super Bowl, among others, but it’s at The Masters where fans really adore the guy.
Here’s the thing, though, just because Jim Nantz was sitting in the booth for, presumably, the entirety of The Masters last weekend, when it came down to the biggest putt of the tournament — Tiger Woods’ bogey on the 18th hole that gave him the victory — the commentator wasn’t even in his normal place atop the CBS Sports booth. Instead, Nantz admitted that he was already in Butler Cabin getting ready for the post-tournament presentation.
Talking to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, here’s how Nantz detailed the moment at The Masters that Tiger Woods won.
“Lance Barrow’s a great producer and we work together exceptionally well. He’s in the truck half a mile away. I’m in Butler Cabin already. And Nick [Faldo] is 300 yards away from me in the tower on the 18th green.”
So while Jim Nantz might have had the greatest spot to watch the iconic putt drop at The Masters from Woods, instead, oh yeah, he had to work and not even take it in from the tower. But that didn’t mean that Nantz didn’t recognize how big the moment was, even if he was watching it happen on the TV of a broadcast he was actually calling. It’s one of the reasons why Nantz said he didn’t say a thing for about four minutes after Woods sunk the putt, allowing the emotions to just flow through the airwaves to let fans soak it all up.
“After that putt dropped on 18, there wasn’t a chance in the world that I was going to say anything.”
“As soon as the ball dropped, I said to Lance on the talk-back switch, ‘I’m not saying anything for a long time.’ Lance and I wanted to make sure since that none of us were together, the next time somebody spoke it was going to be me,” Nantz told Sports Business Journal. “We were going ride this thing out and sit back and enjoy it. I never would have jumped on a moment that was that big. It was just so big. There was nothing you could do to add to it. You could only ruin it.”
So why’d Jim Nantz decide that The Masters was a good time to be silent? According to a Golf Digest podcast, it’s because he learned early in his career that he could “use silence as a weapon,” allowing it to add drama to a broadcast; which is certainly true for anyone whose watched a championship game on TV. Fans want to take it in themselves, not hear an announcer describe it to them through a microphone.
The back-and-forth between Nantz and his booth partner at The Masters, Nick Faldo, eventually started up again, but it wasn’t with them even sitting next to one another — which seems strange when you think about it now. But with Jim Nantz admitting that Tiger Woods’ victory at The Masters this year was “the best event I’ve ever covered,” it doesn’t seem like he cares that he missed being in the booth and having the best view of the whole thing.