Veteran sports broadcaster Scott Walker became a familiar face from his four years on ESPN prior to joining Golf Channel’s on-air team in 2008. His primary role is that of anchor and reporter for Golf Central, but he also contributes to the network’s reporting team for its coverage at PGA TOUR events.
After Walker graduated from Stanford University, his career began in 1994 as a production assistant for CNN Sports. He brought more than 15 years of sports broadcasting and journalism experience to Golf Channel. With all of his PGA TOUR experience, this is his first trip to the Colonial. Since he has what I consider to be about the greatest job on the planet -- and he was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time -- we chatted about a few topics ranging from his first on-air job to the best golf tournament he has covered and the national view of DFW's PGA TOUR events.
JAY BETSILL: Where did you get your start in TV?
SCOTT WALKER: My first on-air job was actually in Beaumont, Texas.
JB: Was golf always something you wanted to cover?
SW: I was at a station in San Diego back when there were two different TOUR events (Torrey Pines and La Costa Resort & Spa) in the area, so that's was my first real exposure to covering golf. When I was at ESPN and Jimmy Roberts left for NBC, I was offered the role and it was great. In the golf world, you go places and meet people that you simply do not come across in other sports.
JB: What is your favorite golf tournament you have been able to cover?
SW: The greatest tournament I have covered would have to be the 2000 Open Championship at St. Andrews. It was the second of the four majors that Tiger Woods won in a row and it was my first time in Scotland.
JB: What is your favorite annual event to cover?
SW: Anything at Pebble Beach. Last year I covered the AT&T (Pebble Beach National Pro-Am) and the Nature Valley (First Tee Open at Pebble Beach) and they were both great. It is really a wonderful place to be.
JB: Have you been able to parlay any of your trips to Pebble Beach into getting to play Cypress Point?
SW: I have not played Cypress yet, but did enjoy Poppy Hills even though it is much maligned and Spyglass Hill is my favorite course I have played.
JB: When the Golf Channel decides which reporter to send to a certain event, do you get to have a say in where you go? For example, can you request Pebble or Riviera?
SW: Those decisions actually get made far above my pay grade because most of the time it depends on the needs of the coverage for a certain event, but they are really good about working with us and they know I'm from Californiua, so if it works out right, they try to send me that way.
JB: Was there anything that stood out from your time at ESPN?
SW: I had a historic run that began in 2000 behind No. 18 at Pebble Beach when Tiger won the U.S Open, then continued with his wins at St. Andrews and Valhalla and culminated in the fall of 2001 with talking to Barry Bonds after home runs 71, 72 and 73. I doubt I'll ever be able to top that.
JB: This is your first time to cover the Colonial. What was your initial impression of the venue?
SW: Upon arrival, I really liked how intimate of a feel Colonial has to it. Last year, I covered the Byron Nelson and it is much more expansive and spread out. I think it is good for this area and the game of golf to have the new-style TPC course and the classic Colonial course so close to one another.
JB: Here in DFW, we have all of these rationalities as to why these two tournaments do not seem to draw the marquee names like they used to in the past. From a national perspective, what is the impression of these two events?
SW: From traveling all over the TOUR, I can honestly say that every event is special to their respective areas. However, nationally, these two events are still prestigious tournaments to win because of the role the Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan have to the game of golf.
You can see Scott Walker's fine work on Golf Channel and follow him on Twitter @ScottWalkeronTV.
FOLLOW JAY BETSILL ON TWITTER @THEFAMOUSJAY