Judy Rankin has worked in broadcasting for nearly 40 years, having entered the booth at the end of her decorated playing career.
Honored Thursday night with the Commisioner’s Award at the LPGA Tour awards dinner, Rankin announced that she’d be retiring after 2022, when she’s likely to call four final events for Golf Channel. Kent Paisley provided some details from Rankin’s speech at Golf Digest.
The longevity and passion Rankin continues to display as she closes on her 59th year connected to the LPGA Tour—from playing to broadcasting—made her a natural selection for Marcoux Samaan’s first time handing out the honor. Yet as Rankin commanded the room during her 10-minute acceptance speech, the veteran commentator shared for the first time publicly that she’ll be phasing out of broadcasting in 2022.
“I’m coming to the end of my time,” said Rankin, who turns 77 next February. “I’m not going to do a Brett Favre andretire about four times. I am seriously slowing down. I don’t know how much their will be after this, at some point I will see you next year.”
It should be clear that Rankin is still very sharp in the booth. Her work during the Solheim Cup this summer demonstrated that. Few golf analysts working today manage to do what Rankin does seemingly effortlessly, offering appropriate context and information with perfect timing. It was a notable contrast for me as a viewer from the more cliched outings that happen with lead analysts on men’s tour coverage.
Judy Rankin was way more informative and entertaining than Azinger has been all year.
— Jay Rigdon (@jayrigdon5) September 6, 2021
As to which events will mark her swan song, Rankin’s producer suggested that was still up in the air.
In working on Rankin’s scheduled for next year, her Golf Channel producer, Beth Hutter, appreciates the gravity of the moment as the pioneering broadcaster steps down. “I don’t think many people realize she was one of the first females to ever work in men’s golf. We see Dottie, we see Amanda [Blumenherst], we see Kelly Tilghman, but Judy was the first. Back then, that had to have been hard.”
As of now, Rankin will work around four tournaments in 2022.
Rankin has certainly given more than her share to both golf and broadcasting, and hopefully she enjoys a long and happy retirement. But selfishly, it never feels good to lose a broadcaster with the gravitas of Judy Rankin from our sports viewing lives.