Golf through a viewfinder
Cambridge resident works as network cameraman
hen asked how a person becomes
a camera operator who works
the world’s biggest sporting events, NBC
Sports cameraman and Cambridge resi-
dent Dan Beard admitted it wasn’t easy.
“The old adage is, someone has to die
to get a job in this business, and that’s
pretty true,” he said. “It’s very, very hard
to procure the job I have without knowing
Beard, 45, has experienced both sides
of that comment. Beard’s dad is former
pro golfer Frank Beard, who after an 11-
win career on the PGA Tour and several
years on the Champions Tour went to
work for ESPN. About 21 years ago, Dan
Beard landed his first job in the broadcast
biz thanks to his dad’s network connections.
About 17 years ago, Beard got the most
plum of all golf assignments when a fellow
camera operator had to attend a funeral
during Masters Tournament week. (It
wasn’t his own.) So Beard took the job of
working the 16th green at Augusta National,
and he’s been there since, filming every
shot from the water ball that sealed Greg
Norman’s fate in 1996 to Tiger Woods’
unfathomable chip shot in 2005.
“It’s a spectacular spot,” Beard said of
Augusta’s 16th hole. “It’s really special.”
CBS is the longtime television home of
the Masters, but NBC and Golf Channel,
both of which are owned by Comcast, are
the primary outlets for Beard’s work. Beard
is technically a freelancer, so he can pick
up side gigs during the weeks NBC
doesn’t need him. His annual work at the
Masters is one of those.
Beard works about 35 weeks a year, covering golf, football, horse racing’s Triple
Crown and, lately, rugby. Beard has also
worked eight Olympic Games for NBC,
and five of the six Emmys his crew has
won came from its coverage of opening
ceremonies at various summer and winter
Olympics. Their sixth Emmy was awarded
for coverage of the 2000 U.S. Open, won
Beard is a native of Kentucky, but his
wife Sue is from Cambridge and he’s lived
in the area for about 15 years. They have a
12-year-old son Yancey.
“My wife and my son are also big
golfers,” Beard said.
Beard has a scratch handicap at Lake
Ripley CC, where he says he plays four or
five times a week when he’s not working.
And when he goes on the road, he packs
his clubs, playing probably twice a week.
In September at the BMW Championship
near Chicago, for example, he said he got
out on one of Cog Hill GC’s other layouts
while the pros played practice rounds on
the Dubsdread Course.
Beard never played college golf, but he
did attempt the mini-tour life for three
years. When pro golf didn’t pan out, he
got his amateur status back, but he
doesn’t have much time to compete in
amateur tournaments during summertime.
Beard said the one Wisconsin tournament
he plays is the Ray Fischer Championship,
because he’s usually off work that week.
In addition to his dad, who led the PGA
Tour money list in 1969, Beard’s brother
Michael Beard is the assistant men’s coach
at Arizona State University. His stepmom,
who passed away five years ago, was
Susan Beard, formerly Susan O’Connor,
who played on the LPGA Tour.
Fittingly, Dan Beard said it’s the people
who make golf fun for him.
“I think the thing that I enjoy most about
my job are the die-hard golf fans that I
meet – the guy who will sit home at 5: 30
in the morning with a bowl of cereal to
watch the British Open,” he said. “To me,
golf fans are the greatest thing about the
sport, and we get to meet them all over
the world.” ;;