Macdonald, Who Died Tuesday At 61, Was An Obsessive Golf Fan

Hyperbole? Sure. But scan Macdonald’s tweets and you’ll quickly see how closely he followed the professional game, no doubt in part driven by whatever action he had on a given event. During the Travelers Championship earlier this year, where Harris English outlasted Kramer Hickok in an epic eight-hole playoff, Macdonald tweeted 16 times about the duel, including this observation: “An incredible show being put on here at the 8th extra hole. The 2 players will never forget it. And both want the win at all. For Hicock (sic) it is the first and the first is a breakthrough. For English a touch of redemption.”

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Macdonald’s interest in the sport — and, in particular, in Tiger Woods — came to my attention in 2010. That’s when I first noticed the former Saturday Night Live star’s Twitter feed lighting up with golf tweets, especially during major broadcasts. For lengthy stretches, Macdonald would live-tweet seemingly every shot. And when Woods was playing, look out — Tiger was Macdonald’s rocket fuel. (“The greatest creative acts you will ever witness,” Macdonald typed in 2018, “are by Tiger Woods on a golf course.”)

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At the time, I hosted a fledgling podcast on Macdonald seemed like a long shot to join as a guest but I knew that he had a new Comedy Central program, Sports Show with Norm Macdonald, that he was seeking to publicize so I put in an ask through the network. The response came quickly. Golf talk? Norm was in. We spoke a few days later, in the wake of the 2011 Masters.

Below is a slightly condensed and edited version of our conversation. (You can also listen to the 12-minute interview here.) In classic Macdonald fashion, he was funny, acerbic and at times cryptic and scattered. But his nose for the game was evident. Our chat started with a joke that he had delivered in the first episode of his new show: “After [his Masters] win, Charl Schwartzel said, “Charl Schwartzel? Who the hell is Charl Schwartzel?’”

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I pay attention to all sports but the Masters had just happened two days earlier so that’s why it was such an important story. And Tiger almost — it was looking like a historic day as he crossed the bridge, Hogan’s Bridge, but it wasn’t to be.

I want to see golf prosper, because I’ve watched golf ever since I was a kid, and before Tiger, like, no one understood it. You tried to explain golf to someone back then and it was just middle-aged men playing the world’s slowest sport. Then when Tiger came along at least he generated some interest and now people are back to not caring again, but he’ll come back. It’s just a matter of time. He’ll win one major this year. [Ed. note: Woods sat out the U.S. Open and Open Championship with a leg injury, then missed the cut at the PGA Championship.]

Oh no, the Tour event, no question about it. That’s probably my favorite thing to do is watch a PGA Tour event. I like when courses are tough. I don’t like when the leader is 32 under or something. But I’ll watch most of them anyway.

There’s not many jokes in golf — the sport is defined by the personalities and obviously there’s only one personality right now. Sometimes a guy will wear a different colored shirt and try to be a colorful character. Or that guy that goes down for the putts — you know, Villegas. At least he knows to do something colorful. They’re mostly colorless characters right now right, except for — no, even Rory’s kinda boring.

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I mean, they don’t suck. I just don’t want them to be [the winners], put it that way. A couple of years ago every one of them was a disappointment. Like, Kenny Perry was going to be the oldest guy to win and he got beat by Cabrera or somebody. And Y.E. Yang beat Tiger. And then Phil Mickelson and David Duval were two back [at the Masters] and they didn’t win, and the fourth one I can’t remember but it was also depressing. Oh, Watson!

Here I am thinking he’s talking about drugs or something,” Macdonald said, “but he starts with his wife!”

Stern asked him, “Was he offering you his wife?” To which Macdonald replied, “I don’t fuckin’ know. But it was all weekend long, I’d meet four or five guys and they’d go, ‘Hey so huh, this is the wife and this is the other wife and uh, how about the eight of us?” Macdonald finished the norm macdonald sentence with a wide-eyed stare, mimicking the husband he claimed was offering an orgy.

Macdonald said the pitches for the orgies were vague, “but you kinda go, what are you talking about? They don’t come right out and say they want to fuck ya.”

They dissected the culture of Florida and why the orgies happen — as Stern co-host and comedian Artie Lange said, “There’s always a hot tub and ecstasy and pills, and they go ‘come back and we’ll all fuck’.”

Macdonald started his stand-up career in small comedy clubs around Canada. He began his career as a writer for The Dennis Miller Show and then Roseanne before moving on to work at Saturday Night Live. He became widely popular in his role as the Weekend Update anchor. After SNL, Norm went on to act in several successful movies, ran a TV show and podcast, and never stopped pursuing his lifelong love of stand-up comedy.

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