Twitter: GeoffShac
Writing And Videos
  • Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    Tommy's Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris, Golf's Founding Father and Son
    by Kevin Cook
  • His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    His Ownself: A Semi-Memoir (Anchor Sports)
    by Dan Jenkins
  • Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    Players: The Story of Sports and Money, and the Visionaries Who Fought to Create a Revolution
    by Matthew Futterman
« The Picture Of 21st Century Amateurism | Main | The USGA's Big Move & The Bifurcation Conversation »

Morning Drive Gets New Set, Cast Expands To Grand Jury Size

For Immediate Release...

11-Time PGA TOUR Winner John Cook and Travel Expert Matt Ginella Join Gary Williams, Holly Sonders, Damon Hack, Kelly Tilghman, Charlie Rymer and Lauren Thompson as Morning Drive Regulars

Guest Host Ahmad Rashad Joins the Ranks of Annika Sorenstam, Brandel Chamblee, Tim Rosaforte and Jimmy Roberts as Contributors

State-of-the-Art Studio Brings the Outside in with Four New Sets

ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 24, 2013) – The list of reasons to wake up to television’s only live morning golf show got longer with today’s announcement that Golf Channel’s popular Morning Drive will re-launch on Feb. 4 with a new format, a new cast of co-hosts, state-of-the-art studio and an expanded, seven days a week schedule.

“If you love golf, Morning Drive has become the way to start your day,” said Mike McCarley, President of Golf Channel. “In just two years, the show has become weekday appointment viewing for those who share a passion for the game and on the few weekends when Morning Drive has aired, Golf Channel has seen a three-fold increase in ratings. This move to seven days a week, with a new set and new additions to the cast will allow us to engage in a broader range of topics covering all aspects of the game and give viewers a reason to wake up with Morning Drive every day of the week.”

NEW AND EXPANDED CO-HOST TEAM: By expanding to seven days each week, the new Morning Drive cast naturally is going to grow. Current Morning Drive co-hosts Gary Williams, Damon Hack and Holly Sonders will be joined by Golf Channel analyst Charlie Rymer to form the on-air “foursome” typically covering Thursdays through Mondays. Williams, Hack and Sonders have been the regular co-host team of Morning Drive over the past few months and will build upon that camaraderie. Rymer will bring his exuberance for the game to the morning, in addition to his continued work as an analyst for Golf Central.

Longtime Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman will be a central figure mid-week on Morning Drive, typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tilghman will continue to be an anchor for Golf Central and a central figure of Golf Channel’s Live From coverage of the biggest events in golf. Matt Ginella comes to Morning Drive after 11 years as the travel editor for Golf Digest magazine. Ginella has garnered a keen sense for what makes a golf course a destination for golfers of all tastes and will be co-host throughout the week. And Lauren Thompson, who has been a regular contributor to the show, now will have a permanent role, providing news updates and reports for midweek shows.

Several regular contributors and guest hosts include:

- Emmy Award-winning sports broadcaster, Ahmad Rashad, headlines as a new guest host. A former All-Pro wide receiver, college football Hall of Famer and 25-year network veteran with ESPN, ABC, NBC and NBA TV – and a voracious golfer – Rashad will bring a unique perspective.

- John Cook is an 11-time PGA TOUR winner and recent champion of the 2013 Mitsubishi Electric Championship on the Champions Tour. The 1993 U.S. Ryder Cup team member will join the show during some of the biggest weeks on the golf calendar.

- Hall-of-Famer Annika Sorenstam will continue to make weekly Morning Drive appearances, providing insight into the professional ranks to the amateurs, and sharing her passion on growing the game.

- Other Golf Channel analysts and reporters also will continue to contribute to Morning Drive on a daily basis, both in studio and on location at various tournaments. Golf World’s Tim Rosaforte will continue to appear weekly on the show; analyst Brandel Chamblee will regularly set up that day’s tournament action on weekends; and Golf Channel on NBC’s Jimmy Roberts will be a frequent contributor in support of his new series, In Play with Jimmy Roberts.

NEW FORMAT: Since Morning Drive’s debut in January 2011, the show has become appointment viewing for viewers seeking the latest golf news and information, as well as expert analysis and discussion about all things golf. The show’s new format will continue to set the table for what’s new each day in professional golf, while expanding its scope to cover the golfing lifestyle including how to play, what to play and where to play. Resident Golf Channel experts and show guests will cover such topics as trends in golf equipment, the hottest travel destinations for golf and the latest fashions turning heads on the course.

Morning Drive’s daily polls and interaction with the show’s loyal audience will be conducted through social media, as well as themed weeks exploring unique aspects of golf.

Viewers can take Morning Drive with them via a “Best of” highlight podcast hosted by Sonders available online each afternoon and the series’ audio will continue to be streamed live at

NEW STUDIO: Morning Drive is moving into a new, state-of-the-art studio for the re-launch on Feb. 4. The studio features four dedicated sets: a main anchor desk, an interview area, a product demonstration area and a news update desk. The new home is nearly four times larger than the show’s original studio.

Panoramic, high-definition video backdrops throughout the studio will make viewers feel like the Morning Drive cast is broadcasting from just inside the picture windows of their local clubhouse. This signature Morning Drive look is accomplished by linking 20 90-inch and 10 52-inch monitors to create golf course morning vistas.

Morning Drive’s production team is led by coordinating producer Jeff Neubarth, producers Kyle Brown and Bill Hentschel, and directors Charlie Reynolds and Eric Rutledge. For Golf Channel, Molly Solomon is executive producer, Geoff Russell is executive editor and Mike McCarley is president.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (39)

Wish it was on XM radio somewhere.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat
I wish they good find a place for Winn M. on the show.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianB
Appointment viewing? Oye vey, rather the appointment be at the dentist!
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLivn Pruf
“If you love golf, Morning Drive has become the way to start your day,”

I love golf...and I have never watched Morning Drive.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Make it a point to watch this religously every morning....Great show BUT miss EK allot. Hack doesn't do much for me.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz
Hack is a nice guy though and has a great last name for golf and one The Golf Channel could market.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterViz
"Longtime Golf Channel anchor Kelly Tilghman will be a central figure mid-week on Morning Drive, typically on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tilghman will continue to be an anchor for Golf Central and a central figure of Golf Channel’s Live From coverage of the biggest events in golf."

translation: "Kelly T. continues to get less and less airtime because she is extremely annoying and has outived her usefullness at Golf Channel."
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D

Ditto on Winn.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAG
"Rymer will bring his exuberance for the game to the morning, in addition to his continued work as an analyst for Golf Central."

translation: "Our extensive Golf Channel viewer research shows that every time Charlie Rymer crys/drools over Tiger Woods on the air our ratings soar"
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Not a fan. It was good they dumped Kuselias since every time I saw him and Sonders making goo goo eyes at each other it made my skin crawl. But adding Rymer, Tilghman and some of the others is subtraction by addition.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGreg B.
I will leave the on air personalities out of it,sort of, because we all have our faves- I thin Lauren Thompson is a great broadcaster, with a great voice, and a beautiful smile, and she's pretty!. Hack is ok, but EK did provide tension, and I am still trying to fathom how Holly fell for that douche- hopefully that deal never happended.

But I stray--- I LIKED the old cluttered set, and while the new one is cool, it is just another fake HD TV jive deal, no different that any news show, the daily show, or the like. Someone has done a job on selling these sets! The current set has character, with golfing mementos and photos ever changing.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
Gotta admit though that airing "any" daily, AM golf show is a bit of a coup. Can't be hemorrhaging $$$.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAG
i love the game of golf.

i have never watched even a minute of Morning Drive and have no plans to do so.

real golfers hit drives in the morning.....they don't watch a bunch of talking heads babble about it....
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTed Ray's Pipe
@Ted Ray, whatever is in your Pipe I'll have some.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Ahmad Rashad..... really?
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOWGR Fan
It would be nice if they occasionally had an interesting opinion. Instead they take the Mike and Mike approach of proclaiming everything and everybody as "great" or "amazing" so as to make sure nobody is offended. Makes for a vanilla show.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterReverse Eagle
Flabbergasted that a retooling of this show results in adding Ahmad Rashad, Kelly Tilghman, Charlie Rymer and Matt Ginella. I couldn't think of four people I would rather not hear in the background when I'm enjoying my morning coffee.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterOB
I'm with digsouth, the current set has some fun memorabilia and is a bit more fun. The new set looks impressive, but like so much of the channel, also looks antiseptic, shiny and soulless.

Jimmy Roberts will really elevate the quality there, but I don't think he's enough to offset the Rashads and Matty G's of the world. In other words, I still will stick to my local news morning show.
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavidC
Bobby D. you have it exactly right.

Viz, if we were married, you could be as beautiful as Suzy Parker and I'd immediately divorce you because you're obviously a complete idiot.

And there's this: "Guest Host Ahmad Rashad Joins the Ranks." I now have just one more reason to avoid watching this blechfest.

Why is "voracious golfer" Rashad being brought aboard... is there a swelling demand for someone to slather the floor with drool during his once-a-year get of "voracious golfer" Michael Jordan? (Soon to be seen on the Champions Tour from what I hear...)

I stumble onto "Morning Dreck" just often enough to know that Golf Channel must continually settle for bottom-of-the-barrel, minor league "talent."

(Can Gary Williams get his old job back picking up range balls in Kissimmee?)
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBenSeattle
This press release reads like an April Fool's Day joke or an Onion story.

Ahmad Rashad? Charlie Rymer?
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterM Lauer
I may be in the minority, but I kind of like the show as is. It's been a much more pleasant viewing experience since EK got bounced. These changes don't seem to be improvements. What they're doing is removing the clubhouse/basement feel, which is what I found appealing. That new set looks horrible. And I agree that Rashad hasn't been an appealing personality since he divorced Claire Huxtable.

BTW, an equally bad decision is taping Feherty before a live audience.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLip Out
Matty G need some fashion tips from Mr. Style...his sweaters don't "pop"" on screen. He could do better fashion-wise.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMedia maven
One of the worst sports shows on television. Can it get worse? We shall see.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commentertlavin
Holly Sonders is great.
Other females are not needed. They are only eye candy without real opinions on golf.
Same goes for Nineteenth Hole.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStanley Thompson
"Michael Jordan? (Soon to be seen on the Champions Tour from what I hear...)"

good one! thanks for the humor!
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D
Add me to the list that has not seen a minute of the show.

To you that have seen a minute or preferably more of the show, what the hell can they talk about every day for hours and why?
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBear
I liked the old set also, it seemed cozy and as said, all the golf stuff cluttered around made for a nice look. I like adding Lauren Thompson, she does a good job on everything they have put her on - I guess her only negative is she doesn't have much golf cred like Holly does in terms of actually playing the game, but I don't think that is needed for an update /news person.

Agree with any negative comment on Rashad, predict he will go the EK route and get bounced in short order.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Ah, Ahmad. Remember him as Bobby Moore. Good player.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAG
As one who must listen to the Golf Channel incesselently drone on at my retail workplace (a big box sporting goods store), I've found the quality of its programming deteriorating ever since NBC took over. Morning Drive has become so politically correct that it makes me angry to listen to the talking heads endless diatribes- prime example as how they excuriated Michealson just for suggesting he might leave California as his residence.
Although not thrilled with the announced additions to the MD crew, I'll see if I can continue to tolerate the show for the sake of my job. All the best to all, the Forged Radical
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterForged Radical
I agree with Digs, I really like Lauren Thompson's voice. But then I also like watching her with the sound off... Also really like watching Holly swing a golf club... Now there's a morning drive... ;=]
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRLL
Ginella is a complete idiot that has about as much business talking about golf courses as he does scented towels. How they think its going to work with him is beyond common thought. We should not be surprised. Its Golf Channel.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDr. Strangelove
Gone are the days when I could DVR Golf Central and get a complete thorough rundown of everything that happened in golf that day. Now the information on Golf Central is shorter, less complete and other information scattered among numerous programs whose job it is to promote a myriad of OTHER Golf Channel programs.

Talking without saying anything is these shows strongest point. Please say something critical, controversial and challenging. Your job is to cover golf not promote it BUT I clearly understand every show exists to pump the golf telecasts/GC programs without shame. Thta cross platfrom synergy rolls on....

The FAA promotes U.S aviation and regulates it, the Agriculture department promotes agriculture and regulates it. These type of setups are guaranteed to do neither correctly or completely. That's what we are stuck with - the current GC/NBC marriage.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephenP
Some pretty funny stuff here.

RLL's ''There's a Morning Drive'' comment gets a +2+ !

For those who have never watched, yes they drone on- but the dvr ad the FF make skipping over ''MAtty G'' and such not only easy, but mandatory.

FWIW, they actually cover a lot of good ground, do well with guests, have fun with a lot of stuffed shirts, and sadly, suck up to prett much everyone.

I heard them commenting on the new set today, and the studio is 4X what they now use (a 20x20 ''closet'' as it was described) I believe they have robotic cameras, but I could be wrong. The new set is just without personality, and the ''basement feel'' as was described of the crrent set makes it a bit of a mancave, and what the eff was wrong with that?

I am not a fan of Gary Williams, but he has grown in to the position. Holly can assume the position anytime she wants, as for my take.
01.25.2013 | Unregistered Commenterdigsouth
I work from home everyday and am a golf nut. I actually enjoy the show. However, I would like to see them take more of a stance on certain issues but that is highly unlikely with the far left-wing nutcases writing the scripts.

Two thumbs up for Holly and Lauren!
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRJT
I use to watch the show religiously with the old cast of Gary W., Eric K., and Holly S.. The new cast is lacking and that's putting it mildly. It seems that they are just throwing bodies and a new set at us in hopes to improve a show that is clearly in decline. I like Gray W. but he needs a guy like Eric K. to keep things interesting and I can tell you Charlie Rhymer is not the answer (good back to the golf bloopers show). The new guys Damon Hack and that Mike guy are horrible! Hopefully Kelly T. and Ahmad R. can drowned these new guys out because they are worthless. I no longer watch the show as its become to painful to listen to their commentary. Best of luck to show, but you need to go back to the drawing board with Damon H., Charlie R., and Mike.
02.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNate
I think the changes have ruined the show. If I wanted to watch the Today Show, I would. The intimacy and golf items in the background are gone and now I have to listen to "I know everybody named Michael Jordan" Rashad daily. I think I will go back to Mike and Mike in the morning. I really think that they took a really good thing and just killed it for me.
02.6.2013 | Unregistered Commenter327ace
Its so simple guys...maybe you need a refresher all ball bearings these days (or trying to capture the NFL fans now that the season is over). Go ahead and count the football references in the script writing .....not mention the new faces in the cast.

The stink of "follow the money" fills my nose on this one.

It is amazing to me with the fan loyalty the sport of golf enjoys, board room idiots pander for more viewers by probing deeper into the drama of players personal lives. Enough reality...watching our government leaders is enough of a "train wreck" for me.
02.10.2013 | Unregistered CommenterE-boo
Why do we have to watch that hasbeen Ahmad Rashad
Next thing you will be inflicting on us will be CRIS BERMAN!!!!!!!!
02.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard
What happened to Holly I really looked forward to her playing lessons with the pros I do not feel Paige makes the segment as fun as Holly did sure miss Holly.
09.9.2014 | Unregistered CommenterHarryG

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.