A Georgia Tech graduate and former touring pro, Charlie Rymer keeps Golf Channel’s popular Morning Drive in high gear. With his sharp wit, golf insight, and affable demeanor, the co-host brings as much entertainment to the show as he does information.
Born in Cleveland, Tennessee, in 1967, he won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1985, and he received the first Robert Tyre Jones Scholarship at Georgia Tech, named for the Tech alumnus and golf’s greatest amateur player. At Tech, Charlie won five collegiate events and twice achieved All-American status.
As a pro, Charlie had a first and second on the Nike Tour and qualified for the PGA TOUR in 1995, where his best finish was a third and his best money-list finish was at 103. His short list of accomplishments during his five-year professional career prompted Charlie’s good friend David Feherty to remark on air, “Charlie Rymer is the best seven handicap to ever play on the PGA TOUR.”
Therefore in 1998, with Feherty’s help, he traded in his spikes for the microphone and started working as a commentator for ESPN, joining Golf Channel in 2008.
Charlie and his wife Carol now live in the Orlando area with their two boys, Charlie Duke, 18, and Hayden, 16.
When I asked Charlie what he considers his major responsibility at Golf Channel, he immediately replied, “To keep everyone around here laughing.”
So, with that in mind here’s the latest Rymer Reason!
NEGM: How did you become a co-host of Morning Drive?
CR: When I first joined Golf Channel, I was the utility guy and filled many roles. I said, “Whatever you want me to do, you just tell me.” When Morning Drive was about to be launched [in January, 2011], however, I thought, “That show’s perfect for me.” But I was not part of the original team of Gary [Williams], Erik [Kuselias], and Holly [Sonders], who did a great job.
When I heard two years later that Morning Drive was to be expanded and undergo a format change, I went to Executive Producer Molly Solomon. Now, I’m not normally aggressive by nature, but I said, “Molly, you’re crazy if you don’t put me on this show! I want to do this show.” Well, she looked at me as if I were the crazy one, but she gave me a shot. And from day one, I have absolutely loved being a co-host.
Outside of about five weeks a year and a few field trips, I’m in the studio Thursday through Monday. I do cover the Masters and the NCAA’s. I also join Peter Jacobsen for the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship. We’re two fifth graders who go out to report on the other fifth graders.
NEGM: You graduated from Georgia Tech in 1991. What was your major?
CR: Industrial management—if you need any big industry managed, I’m your guy! If you were an athlete when I went to Tech, you could be an architect or an engineer, or you were put in IM, as I was. I was a good student in high school, but at a school like Tech, where the average SAT score was 1400, I was really challenged.
NEGM: What do you remember about your experience at Georgia Tech?
CR: I wouldn’t say it was an enjoyable experience. Those of us who “got out”—we didn’t use the term graduated—agreed that Tech was an interesting, demanding school. The academics pushed you; the golf program pushed you. It was a lot of hard work on both ends.
The school and the golf program are not for everybody, but if you have the right character traits and are willing to grind it out, then it is very fulfilling to get to the other side with that diploma. I suppose that’s what I’m most grateful for. I could have gone to places where I wouldn’t have been pushed so hard, but I am glad I went there.
The thing about college golf is that it’s not a team sport, but it is organized as a team. Of all the golf I have played, college golf was the least enjoyable. The team environment forces the individual to give up much of his own control, and team golf is tough because of the personality types that are attracted to the game. College golf, in particular, has no off season. We were on the quarter system, we competed every quarter, and our lives were rigidly structured. That really created a grind.
However, if you look at Georgia Tech—along with University of Georgia, and Oklahoma State University—in the last 25 years and the number of players who have made the PGA TOUR, it’s really impressive.
NEGM: What courses did you play at Tech that you liked? Was Augusta National one of them?
CR: We did not have a university course like UGA or OSU, so we had to establish good relationships with courses around Atlanta. We did a lot of driving, but we played some pretty nice layouts: Atlanta Athletic Club, Atlanta Country Club, East Lake, and Pinetree to name a few. Tech golfers today belong to both East Lake and the Golf Club of Georgia and have a nice 6-7 acre downtown practice facility.
I got to play Augusta National each year—one of my all-time favorite courses—with members who were Georgia Tech alums. Always a great day, but to tell you the truth, I was overwhelmed by the whole process. Two of the alums were the Yates brother, Charles and Dan, who were close friends of Bobby Jones. [Charles played in 11 Masters and won the British Amateur in 1938; Dan has been to every Masters since the inaugural in 1934 and is 96 years old.]
We would have lunch with alums, and they would tell the most amazing stories about Bobby Jones and the early days of Augusta National. So, now, when I broadcast the Masters, I can relate all those stories that I heard.
NEGM: Did you enjoy your life as a professional?
CR: When I played well, it was fun. But it just wasn’t fun often enough. What I discovered was that, when I wasn’t playing good golf, my demeanor was adversely affected, and I turned into somebody who I wasn’t—and who I didn’t want to be. What I discovered was that, when golf is your whole world, you tend to equate how you feel about yourself with how you perform on the golf course.
So, no, I don’t miss that life because now I get to do all the cool things I got to do when I was playing the TOUR. I can sit and talk about it, but I don’t have to do it!
NEGM: How did you get into golf on television?
CR: I knew my days as a touring pro were numbered so I became interested in the broadcasting end of things. I’d sit in the CBS production truck after playing my round and watch the leaders on the show. I was fascinated by what I saw and men like producer Lance Barrow, David Feherty, Peter Kostis, Bill Macatee, and Gary McCord were really helpful in assisting my transition.
The best thing about my job now is that I get to break down the action, laugh at the guys, and no longer have to grind it out. And I get paid for this every other Friday.
NEGM: You set the course record at Great Waters when you were the touring pro at Reynolds Plantation on Lake Oconee.
CR: I’m glad you brought that up! I shot 61 there, and I think the score still holds up. Yes, I lived at Reynolds during those years, when both boys were born, and really enjoyed the entire Lake Oconee area, just a marvelous spot, a great little pocket, for golf. Reynolds was a perfect place for us to live because in that rural setting I could get away from it all, but it was not too far away from Atlanta and the airport. Great Waters is my favorite course on the lake, but all the courses at Reynolds are special, with a nice variety to them and with superb practice facilities.
I remember when Harbor Club, Port Armor [now The Landings at Reynolds Plantation], and Reynolds’ Plantation course were the only three courses there. I’m still a member at Cuscowilla, a Coore-Crenshaw design. The quality of golf from top to bottom is incredibly strong in that Lake Oconee area.
NEGM: What are your favorite courses in New England? The rest of the country?
CR: First of all, about New England, I love Cape Cod and the lobster rolls, the fried clams, and the “chowda.”
OK, two golf courses in particular are Wannamoisett, the great Ross par-69 track where I played in the Northeast Amateur, and Rhode Island CC. To me, the Northeast is amazing because you have such a great golf history and so many people that love golf who have to deal with weather that can be so cruel. New England has real golfers with a sense of pride in their history. I’ve always appreciated that when I’ve been up there.
Two other courses are National Golf Links [on Long Island], which is like playing in a living museum and my home golf course, The Honors Course, near Chattanooga.
NEGM: Dream Foursome of today? Of any time period?
CR: My stepdad Jim McBride, Vince Gill, and Arnold Palmer.
A fivesome with Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, and Sam Snead.
NEGM: How would you like your work as a co-host of Morning Drive and as a golf analyst to be perceived by the viewing public?
CR: That’s a pretty simple answer for me: (1) That guy, he’s got a passion for the game; he loves the game. (2) That guy enjoys his job.
If I can get those two points across, I’m real happy to live with that.
NEGM: What is something that your viewing public wouldn’t know about you but you will share it with them now?
CR: When I’m away from the studio and my job, I try to disengage myself from the world of golf—which I love, obviously, but which can be hectic—and try to lead a normal life, a civilian life. I don’t want the job to consume me—as much as I enjoy it—and the job doesn’t define who I am as a husband and a father. There are other things I do that are more important.
NEGM: Who’s your pick to win the Masters? Others to watch?
CR: Bubba. When I talk to the players, they agree that it’s as if Augusta National has been created especially for him. His ball flight is so good for that golf course. So many holes require right-to-left ball movement—2, 9, 10, 13, 14—which he does beautifully. Bubba’s swing is incredibly consistent for someone that looks like a Wild Thing and plays like a Wild Thing. How he gets there is wild, yes, but his stats are not wild. Week in and week out, his numbers are some of the most consistent on TOUR. If he can avoid making big numbers and if he has just an average putting week, he can repeat.
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