Golf Analyst David Feherty Leaves CBS for NBC Sports

David Feherty - H 2015

The golf analyst signed a five-year deal that includes NBC's coverage of Olympic golf, a first-look development pact with Universal Television and an extension of his Golf Channel interview show "Feherty."

David Feherty has signed a deal with NBC Sports Group that will add the outspoken analyst to NBC's golf coverage and extend his presence on the NBCUniversal-owned Golf Channel.

The five-year deal includes NBC's coverage of Olympic golf (the sport returns to the 2016 Rio Games after more than 100 years), the PGA Tour, the European Tour and the Ryder Cup. The pact also includes a first-look development deal with Universal Television that has the potential to expand Feherty's brand into the non-sports space.

The deal ends his relationship with CBS Sports, where he has been for 20 years. His last tournament for the network was The Barclays in Edison, N.J., at the end of August.

Feherty admits it was a tough decision, though it would have been difficult for CBS Sports to match the cross-platform opportunities available to him at NBC. Nevertheless, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told The Hollywood Reporter last summer that he hoped the network's distinguished golf portfolio (which includes The Masters and the PGA Championship) would be enough to keep Feherty.

“I've got so many friends [at CBS], and Sean was one of the best,” said Feherty, 56. “I'm kind of damaged goods. I don't come without problems. Everyone on both sides has been very supportive of me, both at Golf Channel and CBS.”

A ribald poet laureate of the links, Feherty — a native of Northern Ireland — has worn his personal struggles, including alcoholism and bipolar disorder, on his sleeve, earning him deep affection among fans and an ability to transcend the confines of his job as walking and tower analyst. 

“It's nice to be under one umbrella,” he said. “The promotional aspect of it too, I'm hoping, is going to work in my favor. It's building a brand and having a giant promotional machine behind you. I just hope I can live up to it. That I don't f--- anything up actually. That would be my main ambition.”

The deal extends Feherty's eponymous Golf Channel interview show, which he's been hosting since 2011. There will be a new, improved digital destination, and Golf Channel will also collaborate with Feherty on his one-man comedic stage show Off Tour and his work with the Troops First Foundation, which he co-founded in 2008 with Rick Kell

In a statement announcing the deal, Golf Channel president Mike McCarley characterized Feherty as “a true talent who connects with people from all walks of life because of his ability to transition from hilarious to heartfelt so smoothly. Now we will be able to showcase his unique voice across a wide array of NBCUniversal assets, including from the biggest stages in global sports and entertainment.”

For Feherty, the Olympics and the Ryder Cup were clinchers. He said he'd love to expand beyond Olympic golf and even call some winter sports. 

"The Winter Olympics really fascinates me. I'd love to do curling because it's very similar to golf in that everyone gets hammered and yells at a rock. That appeals to me," he said, before adding, "In all seriousness, I'd love to stretch myself a little bit and try to bring my attitude or twisted look at things to some other sports."  

The Ryder Cup is especially meaningful. Feherty played on the European Ryder Cup team in 1991. Next year, he'll be rooting for the American team: He became an American citizen in 2010. On Sept. 29, Golf Channel's edition of Feherty Live will feature competing Ryder Cup captains Davis Love and Darren Clarke.

"It's not as if I'm not torn," he said of his allegiance to the American team despite his heritage and history with the European team. "There is that part of me that loves to see the European team, especially the Northern Irish, really play well. But it's a decision I made on Feb. 23, 2010, with the day I became an American citizen. One of the most important days of my life. These are my boys now." 

He noted that his interview program Feherty will "evolve," though he did not have specifics to share at this point. And he'd still like to get Tiger Woods in the seat (Bill Murray is also a dream get). Woods, of course, wowed golf fans last month at the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., playing like his old self, though he couldn't close the championship. And Feherty echoed popular sentiment among golf fans itching for a Woods comeback. "He's too stubborn, he's too talented and he's too young. He's not even 40 years old yet," he said. "He's in incredible shape. OK, so he's a basket case at the moment. But I don't expect him to stay there. He's just too good."

Tonight Golf Channel will rerun Feherty's 2012 interview with Donald Trump, whose name adorns courses from Palm Beach to Scotland. Feherty, who has never hidden his political allegiances (he is a fan of both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, but not of President Obama), allowed that it is "refreshing" to see untraditional candidates including Trump and neurosurgeon Ben Carson in the race. 

"It's an interesting time, that's for sure. It used to be you voted for whom you liked the best. Now it's who do you dislike the least?" he said. "With regard to The Donald, I don't even know what to think. I think a lot of Americans are like that as well. On the one hand they're going, 'Really?' And on the other hand they're going, 'Hmm, really.' I think he'd make an interesting president. That's for sure."