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Frank Chirkinian Passes


Fabled TV producer Frank Chirkinian passed away at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla., Friday night after a long battle with lung cancer.

On February 9th the ground-breaking producer of golf telecasts for CBS was elected into the World Golf Hall of Fame on an emergency vote. Sadly, he won't be around for the induction ceremony on May 9th in St. Augustine, Fla.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem made the surprise announcement of Chirkinian's election. "Frank has had a tremendous influence on the game," Finchem said last month. "The convergence of television, Arnold Palmer and The Masters in the late 1950s and early '60s sparked growth across every golf metric. Frank's vision for presenting the game on television made a huge impact on that trajectory. His contributions make him most deserving of this honor."

Because of the 84-year-old's battle with lung cancer, Finchem and CBS Sports' Jim Nantz helped spearhead the effort to get Chirkinian into the Hall.

"I am humbled and speechless by this announcement," Chirkinian said following the announcement. "This is one of the most distinctive honors of my life and I am grateful to be enshrined with some of the legends I was lucky enough to work with over the years."

Chirkinian was executive producer for golf on CBS from 1959-1996, and revolutionized coverage of the sport. He is responsible for innovations like placing a camera in a blimp for an aerial view of the course, microphones on tee boxes, presenting par as plus and minus, and painting the cups for easier observation.

"Frank is universally regarded as the father of golf television," said Nantz, CBS' lead golf announcer since 1989. "He invented it. He has touched every golf production we watch today. Frank is a genius. He helped popularize the sport as much as anyone. He took a sport that no one knew how to televise and made it interesting. He brought the Masters Tournament to life.

"Golf was good to Frank Chirkinian, but Frank was great to golf."

Joining Chirkinian - now posthumously honored - in the 2011 class are Doug Ford, Ernie Els, Jumbo Ozaki, President George H.W. Bush and the late Jock Hutchison.