Van Cynical Mailbag: Who Should Replace Greg Norman at FOX Sports?

January 20, 2016

It took awhile to scrape the frost off the envelopes but here’s your Van Cynical Mailbag (some answers may require additional assembly):

VanWriters cramp, who’s the little known golf color analyst that will break out and get a top job in the next two years?—Kevin Montminy via Twitter

Little-known? I don’t think there is one, Minny. There are only two top jobs, really—CBS and NBC. Fox has the Open for men, women and seniors and a bunch of amateur stuff, so that’s barely a part-time gig. Nick Faldo isn’t going anywhere at CBS because the only people who matter, the green jackets of Augusta National, love him. Johnny Miller is going to go at least two more years, too. Paul Azinger seems like his likely successor. If winning a major is a prerequiste to landing a top job, besides Zinger you’ve got Fred Couples, Davis Love, Colin Montgomerie, Annika Sorenstam, David Duval and, oh yeah, the guy on the injured reserve list right now, Tiger Woods. Fox could cherry-pick any of the aforementioned names for its Opens or even pick up a golden oldie like Jack Nicklaus for one special week a year.

Hey Van Snickersbar, If you’re looking for a major winner to replace Greg Norman on Fox golf, how about Vijay Singh?—Dugie86 via email

Pretty funny although really, Vijay can be quite conversational and pleasant when he does agree to talk golf on occasion. He might not be bad, but since he’s going to keep competing until he drops dead, Veej won’t be able to fit TV commentating into his schedule.

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Van Slumpmeister, Norman’s replacement has to be Zinger. Nobody else is worthy or capable.—Mark Kahn via Twitter

No doubt Paul Azinger is the logical first choice out there, guys, but he was also the best choice a year ago when Fox hired Greg Norman instead. Zing also has a history with Fox golf’s Mark Loomis. Which may or may not mean anything.

Hey Van Cynical, Greg Norman aside, was Holly Sonders switching to Fox the worst career change ever?—Mr. Fairway via Twitter

Not even close. Plus, she’s not done yet. Have you forgotten Michael Jordan’s suspicious move from basketball to baseball? Or Lynn Swann’s move from retired Hall of Famer to candidate for governor of Pennsylvania? Any of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s moves?

Hey Custom Vans, What’s the over-under on how many times Gary Koch uses “awkward” to describe a pitch in 2016. I say 372,629.—Brian Baily via Twitter

It’s funny how little foibles by announcers can become annoying in repeated usage, Bail Mary. I hadn’t noticed the awkward thing. A far worse sin on his part was using the word “chase” to describe a shot, as in, “That ball should chase up onto the green.” Its incorrect usage. Chase means to pursue something. What is that golf ball pursuing? A rabbit? A fieldmouse? The green and the pin aren’t moving so there’s nothing to chase. Even worse, he said it so often that it spread like a virus to other announcers and other networks. Every time I hear someone use “chase” incorrectly it’s… awkward.

Von Schickelgruber, How should the PGA Tour address its cultural sensitivity issues?—Club Pro Guy via Twitter

Sorry I didn’t include the photo of Graeme McDowell wearing a giant sombrero that you sent, Pro. I’m forwarding it instead to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for their new membership committee.

Hey Van Cynical, Does it affect one’s game if one can’t carry one’s own golf set and plans to play with any set that is available?—Simps via Twitter

One will be affected, Jessica, but part of the fun of using borrowed clubs or a rental set is trying to adjust one’s game to suit one’s temporary clubs. If one has high clubhead speed, for instance, and had regular-stiffness shafts, one might have to swing slowly and carefully to get results. It’s a different challenge and one hopes that one will enjoy it.

Van Shank, How well have folks at AT&T done in keeping alive the spirit of the old Crosby Clambake?—Kevin Monminy via Twitter

The last glimmer went out when Jack Lemmon moved on, Minny, but honestly, any vestige of Crosby Clambake was long gone by the corporate mid-1990s. Times change, sponsors change, hosts change. The Crosby has joined the Joe Garagiola Tucson Open and the Sammy Davis Jr. Greater Hartford Open in the sky.

Hey Cynical, What was the money list cutoff for full tour privileges in ’15? What does that equate to in say top-20s?—David Troyan via Twitter

Chad Collins raked in $747,894 to finish 125th on the money list. The top 125 in FedEx Cup points also earn playing privileges, by the way. Collins was sixth at Greenbrier and had three other top-20 finishes. He made 16 cuts in 24 appearances. Nice work if you can get it, Troy Story.

Van Slick, What Philly-area course will be next to host a major?—Kevin Currie via Twitter

While Philly has a dazzling array of great clubs, Lamb Currie, few have the infrastructure needed for the modern major. Merion doesn’t, either, but at least it has a second course. Merion is the obvious answer, but if you want to play a long shot, there’s the renovated Wissahickon Course at Philadelphia Cricket Club. It may not quite be long enough for the PGA Tour’s big hitters, but the track is otherwise tough enough and hosted last year’s National Club Pro Championship and will host this year’s Constellation Senior Players Championship (a senior major, technically, if there is such a thing). And with a second adjacent 18, there is plenty of acreage for the logistics.

Van Cynical, Is the knee all healed? Are you back to swinging the sticks? You got Jordan or Rory this week?—BigMark via Twitter

I was back attempting to play golf at the end of last year after surgery to clean out the orbiting pieces that used to be my lateral meniscus. No repairs were done but now I’ve got permanent severe arthritis in the joint. That has adversely affected my game and that left knee doesn’t feel great after 18 holes of all that torque and bailing out so I’m still trying to determine whether I can get my game back or if my knee is better in the long run if I just retire. As for this week, Biggie, go with Jordan Spieth because in every tournament, you’ve gotta putt.