Q&A: Joe Kernen, CNBC anchor
Kernen, 55, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Squawk Box” show, has spent his life in golf. He learned the game at Cincinnati’s Western Hills Country Club and even had golf-themed nuptials as he and Penelope Scott, a CNBC producer, married on the 18th tee at Four Seasons Hualalai in Hawaii. They have two preteen children and are members at Baltusrol in Springfield, N.J., where Kernen plays to a 12 handicap. Kernen got the inside scoop on another group of financial kingpins last week: PGA Tour pros. He and Woody Austin failed to make the 54-hole cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
With NBC being acquired by Comcast, you are now in the same company as Golf Channel. Pretty good perk?
Yeah, and getting free cable might be one of the perks, too. It was a great asset for GE to own. But I can see why it made sense at this point for GE to focus on infrastructure plays and alternative energy and renewable energy and locomotives and jet engines, and it didn’t really fit in.
What’s your favorite course at Baltusrol: Upper or Lower?
I like the Lower better, but Upper is a different feel, nestled into the mountains. The greens, if you’re above the hole, are much tougher.
What’s the biggest thing that concerns you about the future of golf?
I keep coming back to the Reagan centennial celebration, where it’s always “Morning in America.” It’s “Morning in America” for golf, too. Tiger had his problems last year. Look at the new guys coming up: Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson. We have a tendency to look at things half-empty. It’s never going to be maybe the growth industry of where it beats all other sports, but look at Michael Jordan; you look at what these guys want to do with their spare time. The greatest athletes in the world want to play golf.
Where haven’t you played and would really like to?
As much as I like Cypress’ 15th, 16th and 17th, and Pebble, I’ve never been to the British Isles, so I would like to play there.