My greatest challenge in broadcasting golf isn't keeping track of the scores, sharing heartwarming stories about each player's path to stardom, or even saying one thing while at the same time listening to the producer profanely count me down to commercial. No, for me, the real fun is making oblique, on-air references that crack up the crew but keep the viewing audience out of the loop. I may've hit the bullseye two years ago this week at an LPGA tournament in Corning, New York.
Thursday of that week, our veteran 18th tower cameraman, Dan-O, told me in his unintentionally dead-on Rodney Dangerfield brogue, "Hey, we're playin' butt darts tonight at The Glory Hole." (This was like an Oscar nomination: it was an honor just to be invited.)
The Glory Hole is one of a couple dozen sidewalk dives on the main drag in Corning, an otherwise sleepy little village in upstate New York that springs to life every May when the ladies come to town. And butt darts is an activity that could've only been concocted in a place where large quantities of alcohol are readily available. The object of the game is to keep a quarter securely tucked as you walk toward a shot glass positioned on the floor. When you get to the target, you "let go" of the quarter and try to land it in the glass. Not exactly the sport of kings, but, hey, it's Corning, and we're a TV crew.
During the next day's telecast, I waited patiently for the perfect moment to deliver the double entendre of all-time. Finally, 45 seconds into the show, the opportunity came:
"The players had hoped the overnight rain would soften up these greens and allow them to fire straight at the pin like darts. But with the windy conditions this morning, it's been anything BUT darts..."
In my earpiece, I could hear the guys in the production truck howling. I had to pause half a beat myself to keep from losing it. And if you looked closely, you could tell the camera at 18 was shaking ever so slightly. I'm sure viewers thought it was because of the wind. But I knew it was Dan-O, our cameraman-cum-Captain Ahab, laughing his head off and fighting for dear life to hang on to his Moby Dick.
I can't really recall a single golf shot from that day in Corning. But I'll never forget the crack about butt darts and my own personal Glory Hole.