Any assessment of Bones Mackay in his first week of work for NBC begins with a question: Do we expect analysts to “have it” or not in their debuts?
Even the most generous of perspective on Mackay’s debut has to hold that it wasn’t an incredibly dynamic on-screen effort. Perhaps the veteran looper showed flashes of the sort of insight and analysis we’d hoped for, but the suggestion that he belted a drive 300 yards with his opening tee shot is ridiculous.
If you believe, as Martin Kaufmann of Golfweek does, that analysts and on-air talent are “born not made,” then Bones ought to put down the microphone and pick up a staff bag again. Now.
All of this begs the question: If this is what Bones Mackay is bringing to the table right now, and NBC knew it, why throw him into the fire at a major championship? Did they see something at the 2015 RSM Classic, when Bones stepped in for his screen test, that suggested he’d be better in his debut?
He rarely went beyond the “bones” of the information he was expected to relay, indicating a player’s club and the yardage. He rarely offered anything more than the most basic analysis, and certainly never relayed the next-level insight we’d hoped for. He certainly wasn’t a dynamic presence.
There’s no doubt Bones has stories. How could he not? He is not, however, a storyteller, as his relating of a Bubba Watson-Phil Mickelson anecdote Thursday showed.
For four rounds, Bones was a spinning roulette wheel of cliches and basic statements. Kaufmann detailed this exchange.
Dan Hicks: “You’ve seen (Scott’s game) through the years, you just wonder why this guy doesn’t win every week…It’s just that technically sound.”
“It is beautiful to watch,” Mackay said. “There’s no doubt about that.”
The implied question in Hicks statement is “Why doesn’t Adam Scott win more?” Bones failed to grasp that, didn’t respond appropriately, and instead offered a meaningless cliche response.
Bones simply doesn’t have it right now. Will he eventually do his best work after some experience, like his former boss Phil Mickelson did? That remains to be seen. But it’s a better bet that Phil Mickelson will win his first U.S. Open in 2018, and NBC’s multi-year deal with the bagman certainly looks foolish.