Verne Lundquist in a 2020 video discussing hole #16 at Augusta National. Verne Lundquist in a 2020 video discussing hole #16 at Augusta National. (The Masters on YouTube.)

This week’s Masters Tournament will be the 69th straight broadcast on CBS, and the 40th with legendary announcer Verne Lundquist involved in the call. On a media call last week ahead of the event, Lundquist spoke about his approach to the final Masters he’s calling. CBS sports chair Sean McManus (also working his last event with the company before his retirement) and lead announcer Jim Nantz were also amongst those to pay tribute to him there.

On the call, Lundquist said a lot of feelings are coming up for him in the lead-up to this. But he said it’s the right time for him to move on.

“It will be emotional, I know that,” he said. “Sean and I had a conversation a couple of years ago about when the proper time would be to exit stage left. And he and I agreed that 40 had a nice round feel to it, and that we would exit from the Masters and from golf and from CBS at the end of the second week in April this year.

“It will be emotional. It’s the best-run tournament in captivity, and it is on the best golf course, in my view, in America, if not the world. And I’ve got so many wonderful memories tied up with our visits to Augusta.”

Nantz said those emotions are there for everyone else involved as well.

“I keep hearing Verne say, and rightfully so, it’s going to be emotional. It’s going to be emotional for all of us. I hate to see him go from the broadcast.”

He said the combination of Lundquist and McManus exiting adds to that emotion.

“It’s a heavy week for us. We’re going to cover this golf tournament, we’ll be on top of our game, but it’s an amazing thing leading into it. I’m excited for the event, but what’s really front of mind for me is to do this one last time with Verne and Sean.”

And McManus said this year’s event comes with mixed emotions for him as well thanks to it being Lundquist’s last call there.

“It’s bittersweet this year because of Verne,” he said. “I don’t need to talk a lot about how Verne is a legendary voice. He has some of the great calls in all of sports television, and many of those calls have taken place at Augusta National, whether it’s ‘In your life, have you ever seen anything like that?’ or ‘Yes, sir!’ …We will celebrate Verne, his 40th Masters, and we will celebrate the incredible announce team that we’ve put together.”

Speaking of those two calls, on a Tiger Woods shot in 2005 and a Jack Nicklaus shot in 1986 respectively, Lundquist said those are the two that stand out for him. He said they’re very close in his mind, with the 1986 one perhaps only slightly ahead thanks to his relationship with Nicklaus.

“They are 1A and 1B. I lean towards Jack Nicklaus in ’86, probably more so because of the fact that Jack is six months older than me and I tend to remind him every chance I get,” he said.

Lundquist said the context of the Nicklaus call, around his 18th and final major championship at 46, made it particularly special.

“But, you know, Jack hadn’t won in two years at that time, and there are so many stories about his championship run on Sunday. He started the day four shots back of Seve [Ballesteros], and I just remember he had a magical second nine. It began with birdies at 9, 10, and 11.”

Lundquist added that Nantz’s call on the previous hole was also memorable.

“When Jack got to 17, Jim had a great call before that. That was Jim’s first Augusta, 1986, he was working 16. And I think the story is that when Jack hit his tee shot on 16, [caddy and son] Jack II said, ‘Be good,’ and Jack, without looking up, said, ‘It is.’ The ball almost went into the hole, and Jim said, ‘The Bear has come out of hibernation.'”

And that set up what happened on the 17th hole.

“Well, when he stood at the 17th tee, Seve had dumped it into the water on 15 and double-bogeyed, so all of a sudden, Jack was tied for the lead. He put a bad move on his tee shot and was over near the seventh green, and he hit a pitching wedge to about 12 feet above the hole. And I remember thinking to myself as he walked up… ‘Keep it simple and get your butt out of the way.’

“And I managed to do that. I boldly predicted, maybe, when it was about that far from the hole, and I reacted, like I said, with a simple ‘Yes, sir,’ with slightly more emphasis than that. But I think because I know Jack so much better than I know Tiger, I lean toward the Jack call.”

Lundquist said both of those calls wound up being highly memorable for him, though, and he’s grateful to both golfers.

“Those two guys have had a terrific impact on my professional career, and I’m in deep gratitude to them both.”

But Lundquist’s calls have also had a tremendous impact on the success of the Masters overall. And Nantz spotlighted that, and said they’ll live on for years to come, especially with how important history is at Augusta National.

“His calls are truly legendary,” Nantz said. “Augusta’s a place that I feel comes to life every April, and it’s not just because it’s a gathering of the greatest players in the world, and there is a golf competition. But it’s a week where history, where voices, they come back.

“We hear them again. We still kind of feel and have front of mind the legends of yesteryear. The Gene Sarazens, they make an earthly visit every year in April. Byron, Ben, Sam, and, of course, Arnold, there is one week a year when they come back in our lives or back on our planet. That’s the week.

“What I’m saying here is that Verne’s going to always have a home at Augusta. He’s going to be a part of Augusta forever. Those calls that he’s made, they’re going to be played back 50, 100, 200 years from now. He’s going to have a home there. He’s permanent, he’s got permanent residence.”

Nantz said he hasn’t yet decided precisely how he’ll salute Lundquist for the last time on-air, but he’s working on it.

“I’m just really appreciative,” he said. “I don’t know quite exactly how I’m going to say my goodbyes there at Augusta, but I’ll figure it out.”

And Lundquist said he’s thrilled about the run he had at CBS, especially in his second (since 1998) stint there. He first worked there from 1982-95, but left for TNT when CBS lost NFL rights. But when the network got those rights back, a conversation with McManus ahead of the men’s figure skating championship at the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics (jointly broadcast by CBS and TNT) led to his return.

“I’ll never forget, we were in Nagano, Japan, and CBS had reacquired the rights to the NFL. And Sean and [then-CBS senior vice president of business affairs and programming, now-Big Ten commissioner] Tony Petitti were there. And Sean came up to me during the ice make before the men’s championship, so we had about six or seven minutes to chat.

“And he tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Are you ready to come home?’ And that’s probably the greatest question I’ve received in my life. So I came back and got back in the Masters’ rotation.”

Lundquist said he’ll have lots of feelings during these calls, but he already has a plan to make sure he doesn’t break down on air.

“I’ll be emotional, and there’s a spot on my left thigh I’ll be pinching to make sure I don’t shed a tear on the air,” he said. “But it’s been a great run. Hey, I’m 83 years old, and I’ve been blessed to have a sensational professional life and a wonderful personal life. I wasn’t the first to say this, but thanks for the memories.”

Lundquist said that it’s going to be a memorable final experience for him.

“The Masters has been such an important part of my professional career and my personal life,” he said. “I’m going to relish every moment of every day of next week, to be a part of it for one last time.”

The 2024 Masters begins Thursday. The first two rounds are primarily on ESPN, but streaming coverage of featured holes and groups will be available all week on Paramount+, the CBS Sports app,, and CBS Sports HQ and CBS Sports Network will also have coverage all week, and CBS will carry the third and fourth rounds Saturday and Sunday. Full CBS broadcast details can be found here.

[Top image from a 2020 video from the Masters on YouTube]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.