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End of the road: Golf Channel says goodbye to 'Morning Drive'


On Jan. 17, 1995, the first 24-hour single-sport station launched in a mere 10,000 households, capitalizing on the cable-TV boom.

Golf Channel changed the way golf fans consume the game and paved the way for the eventual creation of the NFL Network as well as MLB, NBA and NHL channels. It has grown from just 15 hours of live programming in the network’s first week—the 1995 Dubai Desert Classic was the first televised event—to more than 100 live hours from three U.S. time zones and five countries this week.

But 2020 has been a year of transition for the network and on Sunday, Golf Channel’s long-running “Morning Drive” TV show came to the end of the road.

The Golf Channel, owned by NBCUniversal, had been based in Orlando since its launch in 1995 but is pulling up stakes.

“As we announced in February, Golf Channel will be moving its media operations primarily to NBC Sports’ headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut, by year-end, while GOLFNOW and GOLFPASS will continue to operate from Orlando,” a Golf Channel spokesman said in a statement to Golfweek in June.

Some are making the move north, but many are not, including some associated with “Morning Drive,” like Gary Williams—who started as a co-host in 2011—Robert Damron and Lauren Thompson.

This shot captures a familiar Morning Drive setting.

The long-running show eventually featured viewers-turned-crew-members.

Golf Channel, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in January, is carried in more than 70 countries and nine languages.

Golfweek‘s Eamon Lynch has been a contributor to the show, and on Saturday, he shared some shots from the studio.

Paige Mackenzie was a co-host who said via social media she’ll be heading west to Arizona. She will continue to be a part of the Golf Channel studio programs and tournaments. She was an analyst during NBC’s U.S. Women’s Open coverage and is expected to see her role on LPGA broadcasts grow in the future.

Williams’ future plans are unknown—other than that he will not be with the channel any longer—yet he wished those making the move to Connecticut all the best.

Damron said he’ll still be on PGA Tour Live broadcasts, but will also be enjoying life.

Damon Hack will be making the move, and showed his appreciation for Williams (and all his co-workers) while working an LPGA event this weekend.

The network recently announced the hiring of Shane Bacon, who will serve as a co-host for a new, live daily show, “Golf Today.” He’ll be joined by Hack as well as Anna Whiteley and Jimmy Roberts.

Golf Channel says “Golf Today” harkens back to network’s first year in 1995, when a show with the same name was the network’s original live tournament pre-game show.

The new “Golf Today” is set to debut on Monday, Jan. 4.

Golfweek’s Adam Schupak and Tim Schmitt contributed to this article.

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