CBS Sports Returns to Valhalla for PGA with Stellar Team and Newest Technology

Valhalla Golf Club once again is the site of an important golf event, the 2024 PGA Championship, the site of Rory McIlroy’s last major championship victory. CBS Sports is throwing more technology and talent into this party than most people can imagine.
Rory McIlroy - PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy - PGA Championship / Andrew Redington/GettyImages

Leading the announce team is Jim Nantz, in his 34th year at the PGA Championship, with an assist from the regular cast, including Trevor Immelman, Ian Baker-Finch, Frank Nobilo, and woman on the ground, walking reporter Dottie Pepper who holds her own with the otherwise all-male team, now in her 20th year in broadcasting. Colt Knost and Mark Immelman will also be on the ground watching for those who aren't on-site.

Nantz, Immelman and Pepper along with David Berson, newly appointed President & CEO, CBS Sports;  Sellers Shy, Coordinating Producer; and Harold Bryant, Executive Producer & EVP, Production, held a press conference earlier this week. Berson and the technical team discussed the equipment they will use, and the on-air talent gave some insight as to who they think has a good chance to win.

The big story that nobody is talking about is Jordan Spieth’s chance to complete the career grand slam.  Of course, the reason no one is talking about it is that Spieth has played poorly for a golfer who has three majors in his back pocket. His best finish this season is 3rd at The Sentry.  He missed the cut at The Players and the Masters.  Not what you’d expect. But these are the kinds of consequences out there for golfers who want to fix their swing and chase distance. Stuff happens to their games, and often, they can’t get it back. 

“His form hasn’t been the greatest. I’ve even seen where Jordan is talking about ‘re-starting’ his year, and a lot of things haven’t been in a good place,” Nantz said. “But these things – like winning a career grand slam – they happen kind of when I think there’s less focus and less of a spotlight on him.”

Nantz said Spieth certainly heads into the PGA without much discussion of his chances.

If he were to win, it would be the biggest story in golf for a few seasons, unless Rory McIlroy wins the Masters.

“That would be the best story of all if he were to win it next week,” Nantz added. “To become the sixth ever to complete the career grand slam, that would be a spectacular thing to try to document.”

In fairness, Spieth has a wrist injury. He has said that he will probably have surgery on it at the end of the season.

Of course, the topic turned to Tiger Woods and his ability to get around a golf course.

“It’s not easy, but it’s easier than Augusta National,” Pepper pointed out. “It’s not striking the golf ball. It’s the physicality of playing and being on his feet, of walking all of those holes and being there by the time Saturday and Sunday rolls around.”

Pepper also pointed out that he needs a break in the tee times. He needs an early-late combination on Thursday and Friday in order to have a better chance for his body to recover and go again the next day. 

“He’s going to need some things to go his way. The weather being one,” Immelman points out. “When you think back to the Masters, when he’s got to start playing more than one round of golf in one day. It’s just so hard for him to recover in time.”

Immelman agreed that Woods still has the shots, has plenty of speed, and that he chips and putts well enough. It’s still just a matter of getting enough breaks to be able to recover.

Of course, Brooks Koepka, the defending champ, was mentioned, but not immediately.

“He’s won the PGA back-to-back 2018, 2019, the U.S. Open 2017, 2018, so coming in here as the defending champion now with that boost of confidence after the win this last weekend, he is right where he wants to be,” Immelman said.

Koepka won the 2023 PGA Championship, so he may want another set of bookend trophies.

“The guy has four targets on his calendar every year. He seems to figure it out,” Pepper quipped. “He has a different system at the majors. It’s a system that he believes in. It’s a system that works for him. And I expect him to be heavily involved down the stretch on Sunday.”

Scottie Scheffler, world No. 1., is still the man to beat, but no one knows whether he will be called away or will stay away for the birth of his first child. He skipped the Wells Fargo Signature Event, but if everything goes Scheffler’s way, as it has in recent months and years, perhaps his wife will give birth in time for him to tee it up at Valhalla.

Whether he is there or not, CBS will be ready with 125 cameras, hopefully to catch errant golf balls and maybe shots of a newborn baby. There will be approximately 150 microphones, so everyone will have to watch what they say, except for newborn babies.   

There will be Fly Cams on the 18th hole, the 13th green, and the 14th tee. Bunker cams will sneak up on golfers at the 14th and 18th holes. ( We can only hope for baby-cam.)

GOLFTEC will provide the instruction backbone with Trevor Immelman, an admitted golf nerd, pointing out which golfers the crew should video in advance.

“What I’m always trying to do is pinpoint one thing that is easily understandable by the viewer at home. That they can either learn about that player and what they do, or take for themselves to try the next time they’re able to go out to a golf course,” Immelman explained. 

In addition, the regular CBS “stuff,” the blimp, drones, walk and talk, the usual suspects as they say in murder mysteries, will make appearances. Everybody’s favorite technology, Toptracer, will also be featured.

Valhalla Golf Club is a Jack Nicklaus design, which usually means fairly wide landing areas and greens that are set at an angle to the fairways, making the targets seem small. The front nine plays through flattish, mostly open terrain, and the back side has several holes with elevation changes. A small stream runs through the property, adding a picturesque quality to several holes on the back nine.

Next. The bunker that changed the PGA Championship. The bunker that changed the PGA Championship. light

The finish, the final two holes in particular, are quite uphill. Not what you want at the end of a long day.  The 18th, in particular, is a long but more gradual hike, a par 5 where just about anything can and has happened. Those last two holes will be the ones that challenge Woods’ walking skills. Hopefully, he’s spent some time on the Stairmaster to get ready.

Valhalla Golf Club is highly regarded. It has been in Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses for 30 years.