Home Course: Steve Burkowski

By:Bob Gillespie

Date:6/15/2016

Steve Burkowski Interview
Golf Channel's Steve Burkowski interviews PGA Tour player Graeme McDowell. Photo courtesy Golf Channel.

Back in the day, that being the late 1990s and early 2000s, the closest Steve Burkowski usually got to the PGA Tour was attending the annual media day at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, or hosting his weekly golf radio show, “The 19th Hole,” with Columbia teaching professional George Bryan III, father of the now-famous “Bryan Brothers,” golf trick-shot artists.

But the Florida native, then working for Columbia’s WVOC-AM 560 and SportsRadio 1400, often dreamed of reaching his ideal career: working for Golf Channel. In fact, that dream started shortly after legend Arnold Palmer began the all-golf network in 1995.

“I had no backup plan,” Burkowski – “Burkie” to his friends – says now with a laugh. “I used to tell (co-worker) Gary Barboza that, and he’d say, ‘What if that doesn’t happen?’ And I had no answer for him.”

Then, after years of letter-writing and making applications, Burkowski was hired in 2000 as a production assistant – the bottom-rung, beginner’s job. But his ambitions had not been satisfied, far from it.

In 2002, he helped create College Central, GC’s vehicle to cover college golf. Having become friendly with such top coaches as Clemson’s Larry Penley and South Carolina’s Puggy Blackmon, Burkowski was a natural, helping make the show a regular part of the network’s coverage.

It also helped that, along the way, he met young college players who would become top players on the PGA Tour. Players such as Jordan Spieth, the 2015 Masters and US Open winner, whom Burkowski met when Spieth was a freshman at Texas; the two remain friendly today.

Such contacts have proven invaluable as Burkowski, now a fixture on Golf Channel, continues to climb the company ladder. He works as both an on-course and booth reporter, and also serves as an in-studio host for Golf Central. Golf Channel’s ties with parent company NBC also assure him of working such events as the US Open, British Open and Ryder Cup.

For all of that, though, “Burkie” maintains his friendships with colleagues he knew in Columbia, in radio, TV and newspapers. He’s also stayed friends with the Bryans; brother Wesley Bryan in 2016 became one of the top performers on the Web.com Tour and was guaranteed a spot on the PGA Tour in 2017.

When the two run into each other these days, and in the future, they can share stories of long-ago dreams – Bryan’s to make the big tour, Burkowski’s to cover those events – and how those came true for both.

“I still pinch myself,” Burkowski says. “I’m fortunate how my career has been on an upward trajectory since (2000). It’s mind-boggling, really.”

But nothing, really, that he didn’t imagine all those years ago.

Hometown: New York City; grew up in Westfield, NJ Currently lives in Windermere, Fla.

Bio: University of Florida 1994 graduate; worked at WVOC-AM 560 and SportsRadio 1400 in Columbia until 2000 when he joined Golf Channel as a production assistant; was lead producer and co-host for Golf Channel’s College Central from 2003-06; reporter and producer for Golf Central, GC’s daily news program, covering college golf, select USGA events, the Web.com Tour; field producer for PGA Tour events, studio host for European Tour coverage.

Highlights: Was the voice of Lady Gamecock basketball and co-host of “The Wake-Up Call” and “The Cheap Seats” shows for SportsRadio 1400; pregame reporter for USC football and basketball; hosted “The 19th Hole” golf show; at Golf Channel, helped create College Central program; still covers college golf including the NCAA Finals, as well as PGA Tour and Web.com Tour.

Where I play: “Start with Harbour Town Golf Links; it’s so easy to have this place on my list. I was very fortunate to play this course on a yearly basis in the 1990s while working at WVOC, and fell in love with it. You don’t have to hit it 300 plus yards off the tee, in fact position and accuracy are everything here. My wife Kate and I played back in 2011 when we were dating, and she too thought it was something special.

“Northwoods (now The Spur at Northwoods) is probably the course I played the most while I lived in Columbia from 1995-2000. I easily logged 100-plus rounds here. I met a ton of great people there, and created some friendships I have still have today. (The Golf Club of South Carolina at) Crickentree was another great test and fun layout I enjoyed playing in the Midlands. In fact, I recall a weekly game that (former Columbia TV sports director) Terry Chick and I had there for a couple of years. At Forest Lake Club, I was very fortunate to have known a couple of members who were nice enough to invite me to play in the member-guest for a few years. I have fond memories of those, but back then I could play this game a little better than I do now; that’s what having two little boys will do to your game.”

Where I eat: “In Columbia, I loved the variety of the menu at Blue Marlin. For me, it was a big-time meal, especially for a kid just out of college who wasn’t making a whole bunch of money. In Five Points, I was a regular visitor to Harper’s, especially with its location. It was easy to get a great meal there while out and about in the Five Points area. ... I absolutely love seafood, so any place from Columbia to Charleston to Hilton Head, if you find me a great seafood restaurant, I will be a regular patron.”

What I do for fun: “For outdoor activities, I will always circle back to Hilton Head, one of my favorite places in the world, from the beach to biking to a simple walk around the Quarterdeck. From the moment I first visited more than 20 years ago, I always said if I hit the lottery and disappeared, you would likely find me there. After our trip there in 2011, Kate and I could see us spending more and more time there in the years ahead.”

Related Content

South Carolina Golf Getaway
From the mountains to the sea, South Carolina is home to more than 300 remarkable golf courses. Start planning your next getaway to the Palmetto State, and come to find that extraordinary moments await you both on and off the golf course.
Score a Great Brew and Food at SC's 19 Best 19th Holes
After playing 18 holes, unwind with friends, a beverage and a bite at the state’s top golf course bar-grill combos.

Featured Products

Northwoods Golf Club
Midlands

Columbia

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
One of the course's outstanding features are its consistent greens. The course's signature hole is #14, a 313-yard, par 4, featuring the famous Pete Dye railroad ties bor ...
Golf Club Of South Carolina At Crickentree
Midlands

Blythewood

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The Golf Club of South Carolina designed by Ken Killian is known for its stunning topography, meandering streams, soaring hardwoods, scenic 17-acre lake, and manicured ti ...
Blue Marlin
Midlands

Columbia

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
It's not necessary to visit the Lowcountry for a taste of Lowcountry fare. For more than 10 years, Blue Marlin has specialized in creative seafood dishes with a Lowcountr ...
City of Columbia
Midlands

Columbia

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Columbia combines all the graces of the rich past with the vibrance of the emerging Sun Belt. It's the state capital and home to a major university. One of America's out ...
Sea Pines Resort - Harbour Town Golf Links
Coast

Hilton Head Island

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Play in the footsteps of legends. Reserve a round on The Sea Pines Resort's world-famous Harbour Town Golf Links. Home to the RBC Heritage Tournament, this distinguished ...

Featured products and attractions in "Home Course: Steve Burkowski"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}

You might also like:

Wild Water & Wheels
Coast

Surfside Beach

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
This 16-acre state-of-the-art amusement park is filled with over 33 exciting rides, including high speed flumes, a wipeout wave pool, waterfalls, a complete kids water pl ...
Golf Club Of South Carolina At Crickentree
Midlands

Blythewood

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The Golf Club of South Carolina designed by Ken Killian is known for its stunning topography, meandering streams, soaring hardwoods, scenic 17-acre lake, and manicured ti ...
Indian Trail Golf Course
Midlands

Batesburg

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
This course has several sand bunkers incorporated throughout its design, and water hazards come into play on nine holes. The signature hole is #14, a scenic, 336-yard, pa ...
Mid Carolina Club
Midlands

Prosperity

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The fairways are relatively tight, and ponds and lakes come into play on seven holes. This course's most difficult hole is #10, a 430-yard, par 4, requiring a tee shot up ...
Cheraw State Park Golf Course
Midlands

Cheraw

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Cheraw State Park Golf Course has been called "the best kept secret in South Carolina." The course is one of just 40 in the country to earn Golf Digest's highest honor as ...
Cokesbury Hills Golf Course
Midlands

Hodges

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
This relatively flat and short nine-hole course is an easy and enjoyable walk. With generous fairways and small fast greens, this course will provide a challenge for golf ...