Johnny Miller is a voice to be reckoned with in the golfing world, with his unique personality and his peppered experience, he’s not ready to hang up the mic.
According to the AP’s Doug Ferguson and Golfweek, the 70-year-old is returning for at least one more season with NBC Sports. Miller has been inside the booth for 28 years now, and filling his shoes will definitely be a tough job for anyone in charge.
“I was ready to retire at the end of the year, to be real honest with you,” Miller said to Golfweek. “And I’m not sure exactly why, but NBC basically said we need you to do some tournaments next year. So they’re not settled on who might be the next guy in line to take my position.”
With partner Dan Hicks, the duo have been in the 18th tower for 18 consecutive seasons, an industry record. But even before setting records behind the scenes, Miller was making headlines on Tour. In one season he won two major championships and dethroned Jack Nicklaus as the Tour’s leading money winner for a season.
His experience and sheer honesty in the booth is what has gained him some popularity among golf watchers, but it is also a part of his downfall. Many fans believe Miller looks too closely at the past when he’s talking about present situations. A lot has changed since he’s been in the thick of things, that’s for sure.
He was asked in an interview by Golfweek, what he thought about the current status of the Tour regarding first time winners and inconsistent wins with top players.
“We’ve gone through the era that was the Nicklaus and Palmer and Player and Trevino and Watson, and guys like that who were a little more insatiable. And you couldn’t make so much money playing golf that you could let up. You knew you had to keep the foot on the gas pedal if you wanted to really create some wealth.
“Nowadays, man. The guys, they get so rich, so quick. And you can imagine if I had the year I had in ’74 and then the start of ’75, you know what that would be like nowadays. Now, I think the guys, as you say, fire and fall back.”
We’ve heard this before, that the players just don’t have the drive that golfers used to because one tournament win could be a game changer financially. This is also true for many sports though, not just golf. Most athletes back in the day needed second jobs just to get by, while now most of them have celebrity type status.
So this is the norm now. But is it such a bad thing? Players can now take time out of their busy schedules to get married, to spend time with family, and give opportunities to those who wouldn’t normally get the chance. With so many new winners this season, the Tour is growing more diverse and more competitive.
Plus, the guys are just nicer to each other now. Sure, they’re competitive, but they’re also friends.
“Like a Rickie Fowler, who everybody pulls for. He’s just such a pleasant person. The guys I played against weren’t necessarily pleasant, like Raymond Floyd. They would just as soon kick you in the shins. So it seems like a little bit nicer, softer group. Very friendly amongst each other. It wasn’t quite so much that way before.”
Also not a bad thing. The sport just needs to find ways to capitalize on these changes and not look at it like something to tear down. With Johnny Miller’s last season upon us, some more changes will be made soon.