His buddy and television cohort David Feherty calls him "the best 11 handicap to ever play on the PGA Tour." Granted, Charlie Rymer was no world-beater, but funnyman Feherty is a bit too harsh with his pal Charlie, who did manage to win about $381,000 on the PGA Tour in a relatively nondescript three-year hitch, 1995 through 1998. Rymer's career earnings put him at about 400th all time, give or take an Orville Moody or a Johnny Pott. He has a handful of course records including three rounds of 61, but the reason Rymer has become a television fixture on ESPN has more to do with his personality than his golf skills. Here's a taste of Charlie:
JZ: Tell us about your TV career.
CR: I'm full-time at ESPN, which is actually part time if you think about it. Put it this way: I do all 20 ESPN golf events: PGA Tour, LPGA Tour mostly, with a few USGA events also.
JZ: Are you walking the fairways like your man Feherty?
CR: I do a bit of everything. Sometimes I'm the lead analyst, sometimes walking on the course, and lately I've been a hole announcer, commenting on the action on a single hole.
JZ: How long have you been doing TV now?
CR: This is my seventh year. I was working freelance until last year, and had worked at least a little bit for almost everybody. Then I began working exclusively for ESPN.
JZ: You were really a middle-of-the-road Tour player. How did you end up with such a high profile gig, when there are so many more accomplished players who've never made it to network television?
CR: Isn't it obvious? It's based on my good looks.
JZ: Besides your great physical beauty, I mean.
CR: I got to the point in '98 when I just wasn't interested in being a Tour pro anymore. I was on the Nike Tour after missing my card at Qualifying School by a shot. It was a bloody story. I was f5-under par on my last nine at Q-School, and the only bogey I made was a three-putt from three feet away. It was pretty nasty. Anyway, my first child was born in the summer of '97, and I found touring to be too much of a balancing act. I wanted to be around my family. My friend Gary McCord of CBS suggested I get on TV, and I told him that sounded great, but what about the qualifications? He said, "You're an idiot, that's all the qualification you need." He made a few calls, got me an audition, and the fact I had done a bit of work for the Golf Channel before then helped out some also. Gary definitely opened a few doors for me though.
JZ: Who would you aspire to be like in your TV career-McCord, Feherty, Jim Nantz, or none of the above?
CR: (Laughing) That's a hard one, multiple choice and all. I guess I'll go with my man Feherty, but I'm more of a redneck. He's a bit too sophisticated, being European and all.
JZ: Yeah, but some folks refer to the Irish as the rednecks of Europe.
CR: I guess that's true, which is why we have a really good relationship. We're both lunatics, which is another reason we get along so well.
JZ: Let's change topics. Tell me about your course design business with Mike Young.
CR: Our architectural firm is called Young-Rymer Designs, and we partnered up last year. Mike's been in the business for about twenty, though. Our first collaboration is being built in Madison, Georgia, about 60 miles east of Atlanta. It'll open later this year. Our second effort is in Costa Rica, and we'll begin construction in a few months.
JZ: What do you bring to the table in this partnership?
CR: I am a former Tour player of course, so I bring a player's perspective to the partnership. Also, it's a closely guarded secret, but I'm pretty much of a geek. I did graduate from Georgia Tech. The design software we use is very sophisticated, and I'm learning more about it all the time. Mike Young lives nearby, and we're both members of the same golf club, Athens Country Club, designed by Donald Ross. Every time we play he points things out about the features, it's almost like being in class, listening to him. Our philosophy is to build affordable courses that everyone can enjoy. No need to build something extravagant and super-tough that only a Tour player can handle. We want to build inexpensive courses that are fun to play.
JZ: Tell me a bit about your legendary appetite.
CR: I started a protein diet last summer, and it really stinks. I got up to 283 pounds, which is too much even though I'm 6'4". I've lost about 40 pounds and have been working out regularly. I've pretty much given up on the diet, and am trying to maintain my weight with regular exercise, but it's not easy.
JZ: You're a real southern boy, born in Tennessee and living in Georgia. Tell me in a few sentences what it is you love so much about the south.
CR: How about I tell you in one word? Grits!
May 23, 2004
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