In January, 2011, Holly Sonders accelerated onto the golf scene with Golf Channel’s Morning Drive. Her golf knowledge, palpable charm, and stunning good looks provided the velocity that made the new program a golf fan’s favorite. In addition, her presence in “Playing Lessons with the Pros” and “School of Golf” allowed her to become one of the best known personalities in sports broadcasting.
In July, 2014, with her pedal to the metal, she sped down the road to FOX Sports, where her golf expertise has been utilized at USGA championships and where she has been assigned sideline duties for a package of NFL games. She also has contributed to feature pieces for FOX Sports 1’s original studio programs.
In May, 2013, Holly graced the cover of Golf Digest in its “fitness” issue and provided a provocative photo spread of golf exercises. Golf.com has twice named her the “Most Beautiful Woman in Golf,” and Cobra Puma has signed her as one of their more important PR ambassadors.
Now 29, Holly, a native of Marysville, Ohio, was an accomplished junior golfer and lettered all four years in high school in both golf and basketball. She received a scholarship to Michigan State, where she majored in Communications, started all four years, earned Academic All-Big Ten honors twice, and played in the U.S. Women’s Am in 2006.
Major knee surgery at the end of her collegiate career ended her hopes of joining the LPGA Tour but helped her opt for a profession in golf broadcasting.
Holly is married to Erik Kuselias, whom she met as a co-host on Morning Drive.
OK, time to get you up to speed with the fast-moving Holly Sonders.
NEGM: How did you become such a proficient golfer?
HS: I was six years old when I first picked up a club. Actually, it was my mother, a perennial club champion at our country club, who brought me to the course with her. I liked the game immediately, and I worked very hard at becoming a good player. For the next 17 years, I played competitive golf, including my four years at Michigan State, where we won the Big 10 Championship in 2007. As a result, I have learned the game and know the game from the ground up.
NEGM: How did you get a job at Golf Channel?
HS: After graduation in 2009, I joined KATV in Little Rock, Arkansas, as a “hard news” field reporter and live news broadcaster. Soon thereafter, I interviewed at Golf Channel for an opening for a new morning show, and I was hired for Morning Drive. I also worked on other projects as well. Morning Drive was the perfect job for me at the perfect time. I learned so much about golf, golf personalities, the golf industry, and television production. I couldn’t have asked for a better job and thoroughly enjoyed my three and a half years there.
NEGM: What else will you remember about your work at Golf Channel?
HS: I really liked creating “Playing Lessons with the Pros” because I was able to spend eight hours at a time with the top players in the world. We would film for the entire day and then combine the most essential parts of the presentation into the one-hour lesson that was shown to the viewers at home. It was the best time for me, just the best, and I also learned a lot from these players.
NEGM: Why did you make the move to FOX Sports?
HS: First, I wanted to branch out in my reporting duties, and the opportunity to cover the NFL seemed like the ideal option. In America, football is king, and I have always been a huge football fan. Second, I could continue my golf reporting, which I did not want to lose. FOX will be broadcasting all the USGA championships for the next 12 years, and I want to be a part of that team.
NEGM: What do you do in your spare time?
HS: I like to shop—a lot! And play golf. Travel. Play blackjack at casinos, especially Las Vegas. And watch all sports on TV as much as possible.
But so much of my “spare time” this past winter has been watching pro football games on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays. I focus on the actions of the sideline reporters. I can’t wait for the 2016 football season to begin to get back into the game with my interviews.
NEGM: What has been your relationship with Cobra Puma?
HS: I’ve been with Cobra Puma for three years now, and we started the arrangement when I was still with Golf Channel. It’s been a remarkable relationship for me because their products—golf equipment and clothing lines—their values, and what they stand for in reaching out to younger people to bring them into the game of golf have made Cobra Puma a vibrant and inspiring company. Working with touring pros like Lexi [Thompson] and Rickie [Fowler] has been a great way for me personally to give back to the game.
NEGM: Who would be in your Dream Foursome?
HS: I’ve played with so many of today’s greatest players in the last few years, but I’ve never played with Tiger or Jack or Arnie, so they would be in my group. Oh, and I’d like to add Ben Hogan, too.
NEGM: How did that May, 2013 Golf Digest cover photo and spread come about?
HS: Craig Bestrom from Golf Digest contacted me about 10 days before the tentative shoot and said that the magazine was going to start a fitness issue. He asked if I wanted to be on the cover. I said, “That would be awesome!” So, I only had 10 days to get ready—I wish I had 10 months because, basically, it was me and my underwear. Anyway, the shoot showed me doing golf exercises to get in the best shape possible for the demands of the golf swing. It was a fun experience, and it certainly generated a lot of publicity!”
NEGM: What are your long term goals?
HS: Sports will always be a part of my life, and golf will always be a part of my career. Golf is my baby, what I love to do, and has been the major force in my life for as long as I can remember. I am greatly anticipating that my job at FOX, both with my coverage of the NFL and the USGA championships, will open more doors for me. Eventually, I hope to branch out even further in the sports/entertainment field.WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?