Q+A Celebrity Connection: Jim Nantz

Television announcer Jim Nantz is the voice of major sporting events in the modern era.

Story by Dean Rowland + Photos by Cliff Lipson

You’ve heard him call the Final Four basketball championships, the Masters and other tournaments on the PGA Tour, NFL games and Super Bowls, along with other prominent events aired on CBS over the years.

Nantz even has been on the stand admiring floats at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.

Born in Charlotte and raised in New Orleans and New Jersey, Nantz, 58, is the consummate professional. He has won countless Emmy and other industry awards and is the admiration of sports fans worldwide for his articulate commentary coverage for TV viewers since 1985.

CBS Sports always has been his home base, as it will be again this month at the RBC Heritage golf tournament.

Nantz is a longtime advocate of research for Alzheimer’s disease, which took his father. He’s also politically inclined and an author and a partner in a private label wine enterprise. He lives in Pebble Beach, Calif., with his wife, and is a member at Haig Point Club on Daufuskie Island.

LOCAL Life chatted with him as he was preparing for his March Madness duties.
Here are some excerpts from the exchange:

When not on the air during Heritage week, Jim Nantz enjoys spending time with his family at the beach, riding bikes, playing miniature golf and watching Gregg Russell perform under the Liberty Oak.
BETWEEN THE HEADSET

Residents of the Carolinas and Georgia adore you and feel a real connection to you. Is the feeling mutual? [Jim Nantz] I’m in love with the Lowcountry. Its people, the vibe, the pace of life. It’s one of the greatest weeks of the year for me and my family. I completely understand why so many people want to move there.

What makes the RBC Heritage a special golf tournament? [JN] There are a lot of factors that go into the RBC Heritage being such a special tournament. We always get a great field there. The list of past champions reads like it’s a collection of World Golf Hall of Famers. Then, of course, there is the setting. Harbour Town has always been regarded as one of the crown jewels of golf courses on the PGA Tour. It’s challenging and beautiful at the same time.

How can you top back-to-back weeks at Augusta and Hilton Head Island? Is anything better than that on your schedule? [JN] It’s quite a combo. I look at it more like a three-week stretch: Final Four, Masters and Hilton Head. My family is with me the entire time on the road. We rent houses the last two weeks, which makes it more like a home environment. I love all three legs of the journey, but the payoff is having the week in Sea Pines with my wife and children. We treasure every minute of it.

What are the most memorable sports moments in your broadcasting career? [JN] Most of my favorite on-air memories have taken place at Augusta National. This year, I broadcast the Final Four for the 33rd time. Same number of years at the Masters. Plus, I’ve called a bunch of Super Bowls. There is something about the Masters though that really touches my soul. Whether it was being on the call for Jack’s historic sixth green jacket or Tiger and Phil’s first. Or my college (University of Houston) teammate Fred Couples win in 1992. The number of fantastic memories is endless. I’ve been so fortunate to be there.

Describe the Haig Point experience… its golf, nature and lifestyle. [JN] Haig Point is a special place. I’ve been going there since it opened (1986). I love dropping out of this chaotic world that most of us reside in 24/7. It’s truly one of the best places in the world to surround yourself with peace, family and friendship. The golf course is awesome, too. All in all, it’s a fabulous experience, and I would recommend it to anyone.


BEHIND THE VOICE

Name: James William Nantz III
Born: May 17, 1959 (age 58); Charlotte
College: University of Houston
Fun Facts: Nantz has been the play-by-play announcer on CBS’ top NFL game since 2004. He won the Emmy award for Outstanding Sports Personality, play-by-play announcer in 2008 and 2009.

  • He has been honored with the NSSA’s National Sportscaster of the Year award five times (1998, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009).
  • In 2011, Nantz was named a recipient of the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television award from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also is one of the youngest recipients of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy award for broadcasting.
  • Nantz received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Houston in 2001. He was awarded the Ambassador Award of Excellence by the LA Sports and Entertainment Commission in 2012 for his involvement in the community.
FAMOUS CALLS

“The Bear has come out of hibernation.” Jack Nicklaus makes birdie at the 1986 Masters.
“As grand as it gets.” Tiger Woods wins 2001 Masters, his fourth-straight major victory.
“Is it his time? Yes — at long last!” Phil Mickelson wins the 2004 Masters and claims his first major victory.