Apr 1, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; CBS broadcaster Jim Nantz acknowledges the crowd in the semifinals of the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament between the Florida Atlantic Owls and San Diego State Aztecs at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There are few phrases – if any — that are seared into the minds of American sports fans more than “Hello, friends.”

But very few familiar with Jim Nantz’s famous catchphrase know its backstory. Nantz himself has shed light on the heartwarming reason behind “Hello, friends,” adding a new layer of meaning to this seemingly simple greeting.

“Well, Saturday at the PGA (Championship) marks 22 years since the first time I uttered ‘Hello, friends’ on the air,” Nantz said live from Louisville. “I’ve been asked about it a lot; ‘Why do you say it?’ And it’s simply for one reason. It was a connection phrase with my ailing father, who had Alzheimer’s and struggled for 13 years before succumbing in 2008. But in 2002, just days before I headed to Hazeltine (National Golf Club) for the PGA Championship, I sat next to my father and told him that this weekend, I’m gonna say something when I come on the air. I’m gonna look into the camera, Dad, and I’m gonna say, ‘Hello, friends, Jim Nantz here.’

“My dad’s name is Jim Nantz. And I wanted to give him something on the air that let him know that I was channeling him at that moment. I thought I would only do it once, but after that day’s show on the Saturday show at the 2002 PGA, I had a few people say, ‘I heard you say hello, friends; what was that all about?’ And I told them the backstory, and I was told, ‘You should keep doing that; that sounds like you.’

“So, I continued to do it, not knowing that people would pick up on it. My dad’s been gone now for 16 years, but every time I come on the air, whether it’s this weekend at the PGA from Butler Cabin at the Masters, the Super Bowl, I look into that lens. I don’t get any feedback in return; you just see a lens. And, like the first shot in golf, there’s a little bit of nervous energy. But when I say, ‘Hello, friends,’ for that flicker of a second, I think of my dad. It relaxes me. It calms me. And I’m able to kinda move into the show feeling comfortable and confident and, more important than anything, connected to my dad.

“There are millions of people out there that know the phrase and it goes all the way back to the real Jim Nantz.”

So, the next time you hear Nantz’s welcoming “Hello, friends,” remember the touching tribute it represents.

[Golf on CBS on X]

About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.