Scott Van Pelt downplayed the physical toll his body takes when I asked him about grinding out 14-hour days broadcasting golf for ESPN, as he will during the PGA Championship next week. He mentioned his father working as a plumber, how he put boots on to go to work and SVP wears makeup. But Van Pelt did admit he sometimes gets hangry out there and in those situations no chair is safe.
"To be on the air from the first swing to the last putt, it creates some long hours, and God knows over in the Open Championship the sun stays up until late at night," Van Pelt said during an ESPN conference call previewing next week's PGA Championship. "You can be kind of hangry out there if you're in the tower somewhere and you've been talking about golf for 14 straight hours."
A few seconds later, Curtis Strange chimed in: "That's what's happened to Sean McDonough when we stuck him out on the 8th tee at St. Andrews for 10 hours."
To which Van Pelt responded: "Listen, it wasn't him, I'll cop to it. I still remember one day where I don't think we got any food, and I went back to the hotel and I think I ate the leg of a chair. But we got through it. The chairs at St. Andrews, delicious."
San Francisco armchairs, beware.
Van Pelt is anchoring ESPN’s coverage of the PGA Championship, which is being played at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from August 6-9. ESPN will air complete coverage on Thursday and Friday and will split coverage with CBS on Saturday and Sunday. Coverage for the first two rounds is slated to start at 10 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. (ET) followed by interviews and closing thoughts. Factoring in preproduction and postproduction, you're looking at around a 14-hour day. Then you get up and do it again the next morning, which Van Pelt admitted isn't his strong suit after transitioning to late-night ESPN coverage.
"I work in a late-night space doing SportsCenter when I do it, so early mornings aren't typically something that I'm -- Andy will be chuckling-- I can sleep I guess or I used to before I had kids. Those days are done. You're there early and you're there until it's done. So I mean, is it 12 hours? Is it 14 hours? We had some days at the Open Championship that were every bit of 14, 15 hours of being at the golf course or more."
Long days notwithstanding, Van Pelt is excited for the challenge of anchoring the first major of the year. That usually comes at Augusta, where Van Pelt likewise anchors ESPN's coverage. But coronavirus pushed everything back, making this the first major championship competed in the United States since the pandemic struck.
"The energy that a major has, there's a real -- there's something to it," Van Pelt said. "There's an electricity. There's a tension. There's a buzz. There are these roars. And it'll be -- who knows, it may be a foggy day with no one there and the best players in the world shooting great scores, and what will it feel like? How will we represent that? Will it be reflected in the way that we talk about it? I hope not. I don't want it to feel like it lacks energy.
"But I'm interested to feel or find out, I guess I should say, what it will feel like to be the one trying to document it because this is the biggest event that will have been played. I know this is an exciting weekend with sports coming back across the board and the bubbles and all, but this is a major championship. So this will be the biggest event that has been staged since the middle of March. We'll try to reflect that."
Just as long as he's well-nourished.