Scott Van Pelt joined ESPN in spring of 2001 as the network’s lead professional golf reporter. He has since become a SportCenter anchor, while remaining the lead reporter and host of the network’s coverage of golf’s grand slam events.Van Pelt joined ESPN from The Golf Channel (TGC), where he was an anchor and reporter from 1994 to 2000. At TGC, he was the co-host of Golf Central, Leaderboard Report and occasional host of Viewer’s Forum. Over his career, Van Pelt has covered all the major golf tournaments--the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship. He has also covered numerous USGA events, NCAA Men’s and Women’s championships, BUY.COM Tour events and Senior PGA Tour events.Van Pelt began his sports broadcasting career at WTTG-TV (FOX) in Washington, D.C. in 1990. He worked in WTTG sports studio production department contributing content for the station’s The 10:00 News, Sunday Night’s Sports Extra and specials on the Washington Redskins. A native of Brookville, Md., Van Pelt graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in radio/television and film.Tell us a little about your golf game. When did you start playing, do you get to play much?
I started playing in high school. I played baseball and basketball growing up. I think people make the assumption given my job history that I was a country club kid but that was not the case. My job path was a happy accident. Are you a member anywhere?
I do belong to several clubs, one near my home in Connecticut and one in Key Largo, Florida. They are Wampanoag and Ocean Reef. What’s your low round and where?
My low round is 53...........at the Midway Par-3 in Lewes, Delaware. My favorite course in the world. Period. What are the strengths of your game?
I am, like most folks, wildly inconsistent. There is no one thing I do consistently well. At times, I do everything pretty well. Rarely are they in stereo. Best moment on a golf course, playing or otherwise?
I have three aces, two were at the aforementioned Midway. I assumed those didn’t count but Butch Harmon told me, “You’ll find most holes-in-one come on par-3’s....count ‘em.” How about a dream foursome of pro golfers?
Sam Torrance, Ernie Els and Andy North. Two hysterical guys who could have a beer a hole and one of my best friends. I’d need a LOT of candy (strokes).Dream foursome of anybody in the world?
I’ve answered this question the same way forever--Sam Van Pelt, Lorenzo Casazza, Gene Hodge. My dad, grandfather and stepfather. They have all passed away...none were any good at golf, so if we had the chance to tee it up it would take a long forever. We’ve got lots to catch up on. Maybe someday. I’ll wait and hope I see them again. Favorite course to play? How about to cover a tournament?
My favorite place in the game is Augusta National. I enjoy the sense of renewal and the good fortune we have to meet there every year. The best event in the world is The Open Championship. They invented the game, the jug is the oldest trophy in golf. It’s OK to bow your head every now and again and acknowledge that someone else can do something better than we can. In this instance, it’s what American’s ought to do out of respect. What is your favorite golf tournament to cover?
An endless list. We are blessed covering golf to deal with gentleman and it’s not just the players. It’s the caddies, club reps, rules officials, club members. To name one would be to start a list that does not end. I will say this, if you get the sense that Ernie Els is the kind of dude who you would want to have a cold one with....you’d be right. Who are a few of the best guys out on Tour?
I’m not getting into it, there’s nothing to gain. The good outweighs the bad by an overwhelming margin. Do you think Tiger can rebound all the way from his off-course problems?
I have said all year that if you are selling Tiger Woods stock, I am buying it. All of it. This year was cataclysmic for him but he has time on his side and is STILL ranked number one. His aura is gone. Players don’t fear him now and I think for the first time in his life on the course he dealt with very real doubt. But I don’t doubt he will be “back”. How much does a successful Tiger mean to the Tour and to golf in general?
In a word--everything. I have seen the masses that follow him. I have seen the impact at the gate and in the TV numbers when he’s not there. He means more to this Tour than any other athlete means to any other professional sport. Disagree? Tell who means more? It’s OK....I’ll wait. Who do you like among the young guns on Tour?
I’m fired up for a ton of young players. Rory (McIlroy), AK (Anthony Kim), (Rickie) Fowler, Ryo (Ishikawa) jump off the top of my head. They have game and they have swagger. I believe swagger is the easiest fake attribute to have in sports. They have it for real and it’s rooted in truth. Can you put the pro golf year so far in a nutshell? Surprising, disappointing, strange, etc?
The 2010 season will always be looked at through a prism of what Tiger brought upon himself. What he did and did not do. We are reminded again with three more first time major winners to close the season of the depth of a truly global game. “Little Louis” (Louis Oosthusizen) was a legitimate surprise but (Graeme) McDowell and (Martin) Kaymer were known to those who know the game. It’s been odd but at some point maybe we will stop looking at the same pool of candidates likely to contend in the majors and acknowledge that we are as likely to pick the winner by drawing names out of a hat as we are to attempt to identify a winner based on what we believe. What do you like most about the game?
I like that it can be played for a lifetime. I enjoy the time I spend on the course--often by myself late on a summer evening. My life is hectic and the peace I find there is unique. I used to get angry when I hit a poor shot but Andy set me straight on that, “You’re not good enough to get upset when you play poorly.” He didn’t tell me that directly but the sentiment rang true. I find the joy of that pure six-iron equal to the smack that gets talked leading up to the annual Par-3 tournament with the fellas at Midway equally satisfying. The older I get, the more I hold onto it.