'We're changing the game': How the voice of pro wrestling is shaking up World Long Drive
Golf Channel is revamping their presentation of the World Long Drive Association competitions. In an effort to better showcase the sport's dynamic personalities, they turned to broadcaster Jonathan Coachman for help.
Coachman first established himself in the WWE, making a name for himself with memorable interactions with figures like The Rock. He later went on to become a focal figure on ESPN, anchoring SportsCenter and hosting a national radio show. These days he's back with the WWE, rounding out the broadcast team for the company's flagship show Monday Night Raw.
He now hopes to bring some WWE flair with him to WLDA competition.
On Tuesday, April 24 at 7 p.m. ET Coachman will make his Golf Channel debut as the play-by-play man for "Clash in the Canyon," the first of five WLDA televised events this year.
I caught up with Coachman to talk about his new role with Golf Channel, what changes he would like to see made to the WLDA's presentation, WWE entrances in golf, The Rock and more.
Tim Reilly: You're already a busy man with your duties for WWE. What was it that intrigued you about entering the golf realm and put you over the edge to add this long drive gig to your schedule?
Jonathan Coachman: Most people don't realize that I actually have a broadcasting background in golf. While with ESPN, I actually called highlights for Masters.com through our joint partnership. I've always loved golf and wanted the sport to be a part of my professional life.
When I think of the World Long Drive competition I can't help but think about the similarities to WWE. This is golf's version of that world. These competitors are big, strong and extremely athletic. When it comes to WWE, everyone thinks they can just walk into that ring and have a match. That's just not the case, and the same holds true for entering these long drive contests. I was hooked when I started to imagine the entertainment value I can help bring to the WLDA.
What have you already learned by watching these competitors up close, taking those monster swings and hitting monster drives that surprised you?
There's much more technique involved than I thought. They aren't just getting up there and whacking at the ball. There's a method to the madness.
What about in terms of the WLDA itself?
I think it might surprise the casual viewer to learn this is a 10-event competition. These aren't one-off shows. I'll be calling the action for five events on Golf Channel and hope to create a season-long vibe that people will follow along with the same way they do a major sports league.
What has impressed you most about those competing?
The level of dedication they have for the sport and where they want it to go. They take this as seriously as players on the PGA and LPGA Tour. At the same time, they have a great self-awareness about where the product needs to go in order to grow.
Are there any WWE-like personalities involved in long drive competition?
The one that most people are familiar with is Maurice Allen, who is known for doing Ric Flair impersonations. Unfortunately, he's injured right now. Justin Moose is a guy I would keep an eye. I've spent some time around these competitors and there are a lot of great personalities in the field. There's already a high level of performance in the long drive product; now I want to bring out the high level of entertainment value I know is there to go along with it.
What aspect of WWE's presentation should the WLDA look to incorporate?
I've gone back and looked at past telecasts and the one thing I kept circling back to is the entrances. That's been a missed opportunity for years. WWE-like entrances with music, theatrics and under the lights would go a long way in giving the presentation more life and help add more of a connection to the competitors. We need to make them larger than life figures that the crowd can get behind before they even start hitting.
Is there a WWE entrance song that you think would be perfect for a WLDA walk-up song?
I always liked Kid Rock's "American Badass" that the Undertaker used. That would be a great walk-up song. Triple H's "Time to play the game" is another one. John Cena's is great. It's all about the first few seconds. You want something that will hook people in and draw an instantaneous familiarity with a competitor from the moment it hits.
The Rock made headlines last spring when he claimed to drive a ball 490 yards. Is the most electrifying man in all of sports and entertainment really outhitting long-drive competitors?
There is absolutely no chance that The Rock can drive the ball 490 yards. There are very few things I would say The Rock couldn't do. If he ran for President in the next election he'd win. With that being said, there's no way he can hit a golf ball that far. But as long as The Rock's talking about golf that's great for the sport.
Can we expect to see any other WWE faces on a WLDA broadcast this year?
We're hoping to get Mike "The Miz" Mizanin involved. I'd say he loves golf the most out of everybody in the WWE locker room. He plays a lot and is a supporter of the World Long Drive competition. Stay tuned to see if we can make that happen.
Lastly, what are you hoping to bring to Golf Channel and the WLDA?
My ultimate goal is to become the voice of the World Long Drive competition for years to come. I'm here to make these competitors into the household names they deserve to be just like WWE superstars. The balls are going to fly and the personalities are going to shine. Get ready because we're changing the game. You're going to see a whole new presentation of the World Long Drive Association this year on Golf Channel's outlets.
Catch Jonathan Coachman calling all the action at "Clash in the Canyon" on April 24th at 7 p.m. on Golf Channel.