“I never went to college. I failed high-school English,” recounts the ESPN golf analyst. “If you want to be homeless, maybe you’d try to follow my path.”
But Collins in fact has a new perch at ESPN. His new series, “America’s Caddie” will start to stream on ESPN Plus, the subscription-video arm of the Disney owned sports-media giant. The series hopes to tap Collins’ unique perspective – he’s a former stand-up comic and a longtime golf caddie – and provide golf fans a magazine-style road show that looks at the sport and offers non-traditional insight The debut episode includes a conversation with Jordan Spieth about the challenges playing professional golf in the midst of a pandemic and a look at Brooks Koepka’s back-to-back PGA Championship win last year. Collins will also tell viewers the story of how Rory McIlroy had to give up a pair of $50,000 tickets to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao box in Las Vegas, thanks to a quarterfinal match running long.
“I don’t think of this as a golf show,” says Collins, in a recent interview. “I don’t think golf is the catalyst. It’s more of a show about people than anything else, and that’s the main thing. It’s also about understanding how golf is a part of life that you didn’t even realize. It’s not just about back room business deals and a game played by stuffy guys.”
The new show launches after PGA Tour struck a massive rights deal with ESPN, NBC Sports and CBS Sports in March. That pact, said to be valued at more than $680 million, gave ESPN new rights to streaming-video golf coverage that is expected to appear on ESPN Plus.
If Collins has a one-of-a-kind perspective on the sport, he comes by it honestly. He had worked two decades as a stand-up comedian, and found himself booked at a club in Hilton Head, S.C., during the week of the PGA Tour’s Heritage tournament. He and a friend visited the course and Collins hit it off with various golfers, who were impressed enough at his humor to go see his comedy show. Collins started booking appearances near PGA Tour events and ended up picking up caddie work. Some of the golfers began to hire him in the hopes they’d have a less stressful and more relaxed time on the course.
Soon enough, Collins was being called to make TV appearances -and ESPN took notice.
In addition to his work covering golf for ESPN, Collins co-hosts ESPN’s “Matty and the Caddie” podcast with “SportsCenter” anchor Matt Barrie, and also appears on numerous ESPN programs to discuss golf, sports and entertainment.
ESPN has more episodes of “America’s Caddie” planned, and they are likely to surface around moment of major golf coverage.