1986 Masters: Chirkinian caught up listening to ‘valley’ sounds

Jack Nicklaus receives the Green Jacket from 1985 winner Bernhard Langer.

Jack Nicklaus receives the Green Jacket from 1985 winner Bernhard Langer.

Frank Chirkinian was working as executive producer and director of the Masters for CBS Sports in 1986, and his most vivid memories are the sounds he heard that Sunday afternoon.

“The first thing that comes to mind is the way Jack was hitting the ball,” Chirkinian said. “There was a crispness to every iron he hit, and it made you realize each one was going to be a very good golf shot.”

Then, of course, there were the galleries, and Chirkinian clearly remembers the roars that came up through what he calls “the valley” at Augusta National.

“One sound told you someone had gotten an eagle, and another told you it was a birdie,” he said.

To Chirkinian, however, perhaps the most memorable sound was that collective groan that comes from a gallery that has just witnessed a player make a key mistake.

“And Jack heard that sound on Sunday as he was getting ready to hit his putt on 17,” Chirkinian said. “It came from 15 when Seve (Ballesteros) hit his second shot into the water, and Jack knew exactly what had happened.

“I think it pumped him up, actually, and you could tell by his reaction when that putt went in how pumped up he was. He showed a lot of emotion with that smile and his tongue sticking out, like it was the first putt he ever made.”

While the volume rose along Augusta’s fairways, things remained calm in the CBS control room.

“It was a very quiet truck,” Chirkinian said. “Only one voice was ever allowed to be heard there and it was mine.”

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