Athens, Ga.—Bobby Clampett is a driven man. This has not changed much since he came on to the PGA Tour. He has toned down his early career antics, like teeing off in the 1979 U.S. Open on his knees. But he still has a big personality and he has not lost any of his ambition, still harboring an inner fire to complete some unfinished business.
I caught up with Bobby this past Tuesday at the Nationwide Tour's Athens Regional Foundation Classic, and sat down with him to talk about golf, television, and what he is doing these days.
Eye on Sports Media (EOSM): First things first, Bobby. Why are you here in Athens for this tournament?
Bobby Clampett (BC): I want to play golf whenever I can so I can see if my game is up for the task of the Champions Tour [in 2010] and if I am ready to play that tour.
EOSM: Then let's get the 10,000-pound gorilla question out of the way. Were you dropped from CBS Sports' Masters coverage because of what some perceived as the ethnic slur you made on the air last year?
BC: Absolutely not. Last year I did Amen Corner Live by myself for all four days, and this year there was an opportunity to do The Masters in Depth broadcast on DirecTV. Being it was my show to work with, I got to do a lot of different things that I could not do in a straight announce position.
EOSM: So there was no rebuke for what was said?
BC: Not at all. It was an honest mistake I made. I referred to the player as a Chinaman, much as I would refer to an Englishman or an Irishman. I was covering Amen Corner Live for 27 hours by myself, and I said something that sounded natural to me and I did not put any thought into the notion that it could be offensive.
When I was told that people were offended, I apologized immediately.
EOSM: But why are you here in Athens this week and not covering the Heritage for CBS Sports?
BC: Actually I was supposed to be with CBS and Bill Macatee covering the Ginn Tribute on the LPGA Tour this week. But as you may know, Ginn withdrew all of their golf tournament sponsorships. So the tournament was canceled. That is why I had the opening this week.
EOSM: So the relationship with CBS is good?
BC: Absolutely. My contract is up with them after this year, so I do not know what their plans are down the road. Hopefully it will continue.
EOSM: How will you juggle that with the Champions Tour?
BC: CBS actually likes it when their talent play on the tours as well.
EOSM: How did you come to be with CBS?
BC: Back in 1991, I was covering the PGA Championship for TNT, and [then CBS Sports golf producer] Frank Chirikinian hired me on the spot. He liked me and liked what I was doing with Turner.
EOSM: So you survived Frank's tough love?
BC: I would not be where I am today if it were not for Frank. If I ever went to him after a show and asked him to sit down to critique what I was doing on the air, he always made the time. He would not hold back on what was good and what was bad. This only helped me.
Frank had this rough and gruff exterior, but inside we was the type of caring leader people want to work with and for.
EOSM: A servant leader?
BC: No, a leader who deeply cares about his people, whether they be the on-air talent or the technicians behind the scenes. He genuinely cared about them, and you can see that in the fierce loyalty they had for him, and still have today.
EOSM: How is Lance Barrow's approach different from Frank's? Given that he "grew up" so to speak, under Frank's tutelage?
BC: Lance is different in style and approach from Frank. It would be unfair to say he models everything he does as "Frank's way." But it is clear that many of Frank's lessons still resonate in the way he produces the shows.
EOSM: What else are you working on these days?
BC: I am really excited about this project I am working on with CyberVision. It is a project that takes my book, The Impact Zone, and applies their technology to my lessons.
EOSM: What is that?
BC: Too many golf professionals around the country are focusing on a player's swing and doing it all wrong. They are ruining the swings because they don't understand the impact zone. With CyberVision, we can show teaching pros and players things that a regular video [at 30 to 60 frames a second] cannot. It is really cool and I am excited about it.
EOSM: Speaking of technology, do you think the introduction of more and more technology into golf broadcasts is good or bad?
BC: Oh it is great without a doubt. We can show viewers things that were not possible before. Tools like Shot Tracker are phenomenal.
EOSM: Looking back on the almost 30 years since you came on to the PGA Tour, did you imagine you would be where you are now?
BC: No I did not. I still have a lot of unfinished business.
EOSM: You just got into town and need to get ready for the week, so I appreciate your time to sit down with me.
BC: Not a problem at all.
Note: This was originally published on "Eye on Sports Media."