Monday, March 5, 2012

Catch Me If You Can: The Win McMurry Interview
A candid chat with Golf Channel’s Lightning in a Bottle

By Pete Pappas 
On twitter @PGAPappas
And on blogspot at PGAPappas.Blogspot

She’s the friendly smile of our neighbor waving good-morning.  The familiar voice at home after a long day at work.  And sometimes her bright soulful eyes are even there when we wake up and fall asleep.

She’s the girl next door, American as apple pie.  And with all the debate about how to improve and grow the game of golf, from rules changes to equipment designs, one thing is certain.  We want more of her.

Give us more Win McMurry!

The talented and beautiful McMurry is a daily delight at GolfChannel, where she anchors studio updates on “Golf Central”, and is a contributor on the “Grey Goose 19th Hole".  Win also hosts "Winsday" (a behind the scenes look at what Wednesdays are like for McMurry at Golf Channel), and "Gone with the Win" (a web-exclusive program covering a potpourri of things PGA Tour and golf related).

Win graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, with a second major in communication studies.  She also holds a post-graduate certificate from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC.

Before joining GolfChannel in 2010, McMurry was a Producer and On-Air Talent at PGA Tour Entertainment, where she traveled extensively across the country, covering the PGA Tour as a feature reporter and interviewer.  And prior to that, she was a Field Producer and Production Assistant at CBS Sports & WCBS-TV, where she covered the NFL, NCAA Football and Basketball, and the PGA Tour.

Win’s charismatic style and confident allure make golf fans everywhere all the more enthusiastic about the sport they love.

And it’s not just GolfChannel viewers taking notice.

McMurry was named 2011 “No. 1 Golf Beauty” by prestigious Golf Magazine.  And for the second consecutive year, she’s the glamorous “Birdy & Grace Collections” Industry Ambassador.

But when the cameras start to roll, this easy-going, gorgeous gal is much more than “just a pretty face”.

P.P:  Win thanks for taking the time today.

W.M:  My pleasure Pete. I’m not used to being in the hot seat though; usually I’m the one asking the questions. You’re turning the tables on me!

P.P:  I am. ;) It’s obvious you absolutely love your job at GolfChannel.  When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in broadcasting, and what was your big break?  Was there something different you wanted to do before that?

W.M:  I do love my job at Golf Channel! For many golfers, it’s their dream job, and I am blessed to have it and enjoy what I do every day. But, I did not grow up with it as my dream job.

I knew that I wanted to do something that involved writing and the media and I always enjoyed the performance arts, but it wasn’t until my senior year at in the School of Journalism and Communication Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill that I realized a career in sports broadcasting was my calling.

I originally thought public relations might be for me, but I had a wonderful sports reporting professor Mick Mixon, the current play-by-play announcer for the Carolina Panthers, and he was instrumental in encouraging me to pursue this instead.

I moved to New York after college and ended up working behind-the-scenes for CBS Sports on their PGA Tour coverage and while on the road heard of a possible job opportunity with the PGA Tour reporting for their online coverage, and I chased that lead…and won the job.

P.P:  They say “choose a job you love and you never have to work a day in your life”.  Were it so easy!  Can you talk a little about the planning, the preparation, what’s involved in putting together one segment of Golf Central or the Grey Goose 19th Hole?

W.M:  There certainly is a lot of work that goes into it! I am very lucky at Golf Channel to have a wonderful team of producers and APs to help and assist with what we do on every show.

Of course we are tuned into live golf coverage, but we also are digging and consuming the golf news around us. We have production meetings before every show where we discuss show elements and where our topics and discussions will go. Everyone has to be on the same page.

P.P:  Do you have a favorite golfer?  Who is it?

W.M:  Answering this question is a landmine! I was always told journalists don’t root for a particular player, they root for the story.

P.P:  Fair enough Win :D You’re the GolfChannel “Fantasy Challenge” defending champion, and this year you’re not just beating (Rex) Hoggard, (Charlie) Rymer, (Todd) Lewis, (Jason) Sobel, and (John) Hawkins, you’re flat-out overwhelming some. of them  How do you navigate your way around the studio with all those vengeful broken egos taking aim at the bulls-eye on your back?

W.M:  Oh don’t you worry; I do get plenty of comments, especially since Golf Channel spotlighted my Fantasy success this year!

I just try to keep making solid picks every week. So far it’s worked pretty well. I was leading the “expert” standings until my match play bracket exploded after day one.

P.P:  OK this one’s somewhat related to the previous question, tapping in to your prognosticator-prowess. Charlie Rymer vs. Brandel Chamblee.  Match Play.  Who’s your pick?  Come on!

W.M:  Oooh…another hard one. I really enjoy working with both Rymer and Brandel. The two of them get into it sometimes don’t they?

Charlie is a silly, always upbeat, big (no pun intended) presence in the studio and around the office. Brandel on the other hand prides himself as an intellectual.

I’ve never played golf with either of them, but I’d put my money on Brandel. Word around here is that he’s still pretty good…

P.P:  Haha, thanks Win.  Let’s change the pace of play a bit now with some quick on-the-clock questions and answers.  Here we go. 

P.P:  The club in your bag that never lets you down? 
W.M:  9 iron.

P.P:  And what about your nemesis club?
W.M:  3 wood.

P.P:  What’s your favorite course on the PGA Tour?
W.M:  non-major is Pebble Beach, major is Augusta National (though never played it).

P.P:  Will Tiger win a major in 2012?
W.M:  Yes.

P.P:  A nickname you have that people probably don’t know about?
W.M:  Fred (Win is short for Winifred, so close friends switch it up).

P.P:  What’s your most memorable shot and where was it?
W.M:  Tee shot at par-3 15th at Cypress Point.

P.P:  And how about a movie you saw recently that you liked a lot?
W.M:  Overboard, saw it for the first time this week. Goldie Hawn is hysterical.
P.P:  Win you’re a role model for countless young women around the country with aspirations to succeed in sports broadcasting.  Did you have a role model growing up, and what advice would you give these young ladies looking to follow in your footsteps?

W.M:  I have always really admired the women anchors of the TODAY Show on NBC. I am enamored watching them balance the light and hard stories they cover every day on such a wide array of topics from sports to current events to features. They are always classy, real, and relate so well with their audience.

I would tell other young women interested in this industry to not underestimate the importance of hard work and dedication. To be in this line of work you have to persevere, be persistent and determined. Networking is also extremely important, and you cannot be shy going after what you want.

P.P:  Since joining GolfChannel in 2010, what “Whoa-Baby!” shot sticks out most for you as one of the best you’ve seen on Tour?  For me it was the all or nothing, out of the pine straw, “Amen Corner”, around the trees, Phil Mickelson Masters shot on No. 13 at Augusta in 2010.

W.M:  That was really impressive, and you’re right, since 2010, that probably is “the shot” that is the most memorable.

But how about Rory McIlroy holing out from 114 yards at the 8th in round two of the U.S. Open on his way to an 8-stroke victory?

Or, better yet perhaps, Bill Haas’ splash hole-out from the water on the second playoff hole at the Tour Championship last year to stay alive in the playoff and ultimately win?

P.P:  As GolfChannel’s style maven and “Fashion Focus” web-exclusive contributor you have your finger on the pulse of everything fashion in the golf world.  And you’re again the Industry Ambassador for the exclusive and brilliant designs of Birdy & Grace in 2012.  Who are some players on the PGA and LPGA Tours you like to follow just to see what they’re wearing?

W.M:  Belen Mozo is a brand ambassador for Greg Norman Collection, and she couldn’t be more lovely and stylish. She always looks attractive and smart on the course.

As for the guys, I like the more tailored looks of J. Lindenberg (Jesper Parnevik & Camilo Villegas) and Ian Poulter Designs as well as the classic look of Polo Ralph Lauren (Davis Love III & Webb Simpson) and Peter Millar (Bill Haas).

P.P:  I saw Tony Dovolani from Dancing with the Stars gave you a salsa lesson recently.  How’d you do?  It’d be sensational to see you as one of the 12 celebrity contestants down the road.  If you get that call from ABC, is there a colleague in the GolfChannel studio you’re going to seek advice from or ask to be your personal coach?

W.M:  I would love to be on the show! I grew up dancing, I was a ballerina through college and occasionally took classes in New York City. I’m not sure I’d seek anyone’s advice here at Golf Channel…but I think Michael Breed would be a good guy to talk to about bringing the energy to the performance!
P.P:  Final round of on-the-clock rapid style questions and answers.

P.P:  New music you like listening to lately?
W.M:  Well it’s not new, but I am currently into listening to some of the jazz greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and Billie Holiday. I also have been playing Van Morrison Radio a lot on my Pandora.

P.P:  A famous person your friends and family say you look like?
W.M:  No idea! 

P.P:  The funniest thing you’ve ever seen on a golf course?
W.M:  It would have to be David Feherty announcing players on the tee at last year’s Tavistock Cup. Google it. He’s unreal.

P.P:  Your favorite interview with a PGA Tour player?
W.M:  My first time interviewing Arnold Palmer.

P.P:  Who’s in your dream golf foursome?
W.M:  It always changes, today it’s Michael Jordan, Fred Couples, and my good friend Angi Izzi (because she’s a great golfer and knows my game and would calm me down)!

P.P:  What’s your favorite PGA Tour event?
W.M:  To go to it’s the Masters. To watch on TV it’s the British Open (Open Championship).

P.P:  And a pick-up line someone actually tried to use on you?
W.M:  Can’t think of one.

P.P:  OK Win, you get an exclusive sit down with Tiger Woods.  And he tells you absolutely everything about what happened the year leading up to, the year of, and the year following his tumultuous, career changing 2009.  Or?  You’re given Ben Hogan’s “Secret”, written by his own hand, and authenticated.  It’s never been shared or seen by anyone but Mr. Hogan, but now belongs to you.  Which scoop do you choose?

W.M:  No question, Hogan. To read his own words and learn about what it was that made his swing so automatic would be priceless. Tiger’s story would be something for TMZ. Hogan’s would be something for the Smithsonian.
P.P:  Every television personality eventually, and (usually) unwillingly, provides material for their own personal blooper reel.  For some it’s like a rite of passage.  For others it’s an ongoing production.  And for some lighthearted souls (debonair David Feherty), oddly enough it’s both.  One way or another though, everyone experiences these on-air misadventures, and hopefully everyone laughs about them after the fact.  But what goes through your mind right at that initial moment when you first realize you just chunked it from the fairway during a live broadcast?

W.M:  In 2010 I had a “slip of the tongue” that spread like wildfire online and across other media. The timing of it, as it related to Tiger Woods, made it the perfect storm to make headlines.

At the time, I only thought I stuttered my misspeak, after all I was live on-air and had to keep on going, but when I was alerted to the fact by my producer after we were off-air, I’m sure my face turned bright red! With nothing to do except laugh at it (like everyone else) that’s what I did.

P.P:  Win it’s easy to overlook that television personalities have their good days and bad days just like anyone else.  But as a professional you have to put those bad days aside once the camera starts rolling.  Is that one of the most challenging things about the job?

W.M:  Sure, just like everyone else, I’ve had bad days in my personal life. I try to set aside whatever is bothering me and focus on my job. But I wouldn’t say that is one of the most challenging things about my job.

I really enjoy my work and I try to focus all of my energy on it when I am in the studio and preparing for shows. When we’re “on” I am genuinely thinking about golf and our subject at hand and draw on that positive in the world and in my life.

P.P:  Last question Win.  Your two year rise at GolfChannel has been truly marvelous to watch.  Mention the name Win McMurry to just about anyone, and they’ll tell you, the more Win we get, the more Win we want.  What does the next 5 years hold for you?  Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?  A primetime GolfChannel talk show hosted by Win McMurry?

W.M:  That’s very kind of you to say. Thank you. I would very much like to continue to work at Golf Channel for the foreseeable future.

I would like to continue to take on more roles within the network as well. Golf Channel does a great job of presenting more “serious” golf news as well as “fun” segments, but when it comes down to it, we are covering the wonderful GAME of golf. For our viewers, it is a release to be able to watch our coverage, to watch talented golfers, and to learn a little more about the game and the world that surrounds it.

One of my favorite assignments to have is to talk to people who this game has touched, and to share their story with our viewers. I’d really enjoy and be humbled to bring these personal stories to light and to life for you on a more regular basis…and continue to have fun doing it!

P.P:  Thanks Win … Fred.  It’s been an absolute pleasure talking with you.  I wish you and everyone at GolfChannel continued success throughout 2012 and beyond.

W.M:  My pleasure Pete. Thank you.
Win McMurry’s star power is soaring.  Her distinctive charm, luminous smile, and compelling style burn brighter and hotter with each new day.  And there doesn’t appear to be any slowdown on the horizon to her surging success.

So is McMurry lighting in a bottle?  Well you know what they say; you can’t catch it in a bottle.

But luckily for all of us, we can catch Win everyday on Golf Channel, and follow her on twitter @WinMcMurryGC, and on

Follow Pete on twitter @PGAPappas
And for more interviews and articles visit Pete on blogspot at PGAPappas.Blogspot