It would be easy to argue that Juli Inkster is the most accomplished active American player on the LPGA, given her 31 victories over nearly three decades, career Grand Slam and Hall of Fame status. But she’s approaching her newest job – as a commentator for Golf Channel – like the greenest of LPGA rookies.
In 2014, Inkster will be working five events as an LPGA on-course commentator while playing a front-loaded schedule of about 12 events. She said Jack Graham, Golf Channel’s executive producer, worked to accommodate her schedule and has been “coaching me up.”
“There’s so much to learn, so I want to start on the ground and learn the basics (following) one group and get my feet wet,” Inkster tells Golfweek. “I’ve done a little bit of booth work, and you’ve got to be on your game. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of different things are going on at once. I’d really kind of like to start from the ground up and find out if it’s what I want to do.”
Inkster dabbled in television when her daughters were young, but decided to continue playing. Now she wants to give TV another try. She said she plans to “shadow” Jerry Foltz, Kay Cockerill and other on-course reporters to learn her new trade.
The best advice she has received so far?
“Try to say a lot with a little,” Inkster said. “When you do talk, talk slow and enunciate and get your point across, because you’re only going to have a window to say what you want to say. I feel like I know the players really well, and I can bring that to the table, not only golf-wise, but off the golf course, too. I think the main thing is to be myself and call it the way I see it.”
Given her career record, Inkster starts this phase of her TV career with an unusual level of authority. She said she’s willing to criticize players for things such as poor etiquette – club throwing and the like – but don’t expect her to have the occasionally caustic style that has made Johnny Miller a lightning rod.
“I don’t have any problems telling it like it is,” she said, but adds, “I will definitely be pro-player. I’ve been there, and it’s a lot harder than you think.”