Charlie Rymer, once an All-America golfer at Georgia Tech, earns his living these days with his wit and his words. Rymer has used his sense of humor and down-home style to become one of the most popular commentators on Golf Channel.
But this spring Rymer will put down the microphone – occasionally, at least – and return to competition on the PGA Tour Champions circuit. One of his first stops will be the Mitsubishi Electric Classic at TPC Sugarloaf in April.
Rymer turns 50 on Dec. 18 and will make his senior debut in Boca Raton, Fla., in February. After working the Masters, Rymer will drive to Atlanta – stay with comedian Ron White at the River Club – and tee it up with Bernard Langer and the Boys and the plus-50 circuit.
“I’m very much looking forward to that,” he said. “I’ve been working hard on my game.”
Not only has Rymer been hitting the practice ground, he’s been losing weight. He’s dropped 50 pounds, earning him a phone call from World Golf Hall of Famer and fitness buff Gary Player, who said Rymer “looked like a 1 iron.”
Rymer isn’t sure what sort of results to expect when he returns to competition.
“I’ve been working on my game for a year and it’s not going that well,” he said. “I feel like I’m going to play like crud. But when people look at me and see I’ve lost weight, they’ll say, ‘At least he’s trying.’”
Rymer played in the BellSouth Classic the first two years it was hosted at Sugarloaf. He tied for 51st in 1997 and missed the cut in 1998.
“I got on the leaderboard in the third round that first year and went into the tank,” he said.
Rymer has plenty of competitive chops. He won the U.S. Junior Amateur in 1985 and won five tournaments at Georgia Tech. He was a third-team All-America choice in 1988 and honorable mention in 1989. He played the Nike Tour and the PGA Tour from 1994 to 1998. He became a commentator for ESPN in 1998 and joined Golf Channel in 2009.
He will be an important part of the Golf Channel broadcast team and will be in Atlanta for the East Lake Cup, Oct. 30-Nov. 1. The event features the four semifinalists from last year’s NCAA men’s and women’s championships. Men’s teams are Oklahoma, Vanderbilt, Oregon and Illinois. Women’s teams are Stanford, Arizona State, Southern Call and Northwestern.
The East Lake Cup format calls for stroke play on Monday, which crowns an individual winner and seeds the teams. The competition on Tuesday and Wednesday switches to match play, following the same format as the NCAA Championships, to determine the winner.
Rymer is pleased that Golf Channel provides equal coverage to the men’s and women’s teams. “I think that’s important for the game,” he said.
The ascendency of young players like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm has helped create a desire to see rising stars, a thirst events like the East Lake Cup helps quench. Fans want to see the next wave of good young players and especially enjoy it when their team is on the air.
“When people see their favorite school playing golf on TV it gets them more fired-up,” Rymer said. “I think it’s good for the game, particularly when you see guys right out of school doing what Jordan Spieth is doing, what Rickie Fowler has done.
“The competition is deeper and deeper than it’s ever been. I think what we’ve done at Golf Channel has helped that, given it a broader audience, gotten it to more folks and helped the appeal.”