Hall to welcome TV golf pioneer Chirkinian
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Frank Chirkinian, a pioneer in televised golf, will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Chirkinian was selected via the hall’s Lifetime Achievement category. He will be enshrined on Monday, May 9, at World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Fla., along with Ernie Els, Doug Ford, the late Jock Hutchison, Jumbo Ozaki and former President George H.W. Bush.
The announcement was made by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem and Jack Peter, the Hall of Fame’s chief operating officer, at the annual Tour-CBS Sports reception at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on Wednesday night.
“Frank has had a tremendous influence on the game,” Finchem said. “The convergence of television, Arnold Palmer and The Masters in the late 1950s and early ’60s sparked growth across every golf metric. Frank’s vision for presenting the game on television made a huge impact on that trajectory. His contributions make him most deserving of this honor.”
From 1959 to 1996, Chirkinian was the executive producer for golf at CBS and led the network’s Masters coverage. He has been awarded four Emmy and two Peabody awards.
“In his 38 years with CBS Sports, Frank Chirkinian’s remarkable innovations and contributions have become the industry standard for the way we watch golf on television,” said Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports. “Frank has left a legacy of excellence and creativity in golf broadcasting that will never be equaled and is a true Hall of Famer in all of sports television.”
Chirkinian said he was “humbled’’ at the news, adding: ”This is one of the most distinctive honors of my life and I am grateful to be enshrined with some of the legends I was lucky enough to work with over the years.”
His reputation as an innovator in golf telecasts endures today through the use of a camera on a blimp hovering over the tournament site and audio enhancements such as adding microphones to tee boxes.
He earned the nickname Ayatollah for his authoritative style of running a telecast.
Pat Summerall, who began working with Chirkinian in 1985, once explained it this way: “I read what an ayatollah was. They knew everything, they bossed everybody, they were experts in everything. I thought Frank fit that description perfectly. He was a dominating personality.”
Chirkinian, a member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, took the moniker as a compliment. “It means you know what you want and how you want it.”