KAPALUA - Between playing golf and analyzing it, Brandel Chamblee knows what job is tougher.
"I'm going to say playing because you have so many variables," said the former PGA Tour member and current Golf Channel analyst, on Maui for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Plantation Course.
With more than 17 hours of live tournament coverage, cameras converging from almost every angle and some of golf's biggest television personalities on hand, the sport's eyes are on Kapalua this week.
Aerial images are captured for the Golf Channel on Saturday by a cameraman on a crane and from a plane circling the Plantation Course.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
"The brightest people in golf are here," Chamblee said. "They're all here and I get to hang out with them and talk golf with them. It's a blast, it really is. And I get paid to do it, but I would be doing it anyway."
After a 15-year PGA Tour career that included more than $4 million in earnings, Chamblee made a full-time transition to television in 2004. He joined the Golf Channel as a lead analyst for its Champions Tour coverage after serving as a part-time commentator for ABC in 2003.
Chamblee is no stranger to Maui. He played in Kapalua's inaugural PGA Tour event in 1999, and also at the Lincoln-Mercury Kapalua International. He has been an analyst at the Tournament of Champions since 2003.
"Other than that I've been here 50 times because Hawaii's my favorite place in the world. I was just here three weeks ago on a vacation, so I come here all the time," he said.
Chamblee said that of all the courses he's experienced, Kapalua stands out.
"There's nothing like this course. None of the other events are anything like this. The closest, you know, they used to play in an event in Castle Pines, Colorado, called The International, and it had elevation changes like this but it didn't have views of the Pacific and Molokai," he said.
Chamblee said this year's coverage includes all kinds of "new bells and whistles."
"We have charts that allow us to more clearly show elevation changes," he said. "They're 3D-looking charts that give the fan at home a very clear idea of how much drop or rise there is with every shot. You can say there's a pretty big drop, but we have a way of putting it in perspective for the fan."
Also new this year is the addition of aerial coverage of the 7,411-yard Plantation Course.
Of all the pairings at this week's tournament, one of the most anticipated might be off the course and in the broadcast booth. Analysts Nick Faldo and Johnny Miller are together for the first time in Maui, a duo that Chamblee said "adds to the entertainment value of the show."
"They go at things completely different," Chamblee explained. "Nick doesn't use any notes, he gets up there and he just goes off the cuff and that's his style and it works for him. Johnny is much more analytical. He's got lots of notes and he says his things, and inevitably they're going to butt heads a few times and take shots at each other."
Chamblee had plenty to say about the tournament itself, including the limited number of participants at this year's event. The 27-person field is the smallest since the winners-only tournament moved to Kapalua.
"Golf is global now and when this tournament limits the champions to just the PGA Tour, they're hurting themselves," he said. "This is the Tournament of Champions and it should be the tournament of champions of every major tournament in the world - you should have representatives here from the Japanese Tour, from the Australasian Tour, from the Sunshine Tour, from the European Tour. It's time, I think that since golf is so global right now, I think that move alone would invigorate this tournament and give it a shot in the arm."
* Lehia Apana is at email@example.com