18 holes with ... Joe Buck

Fox broadcaster's language on golf course would get him barred from airwaves

After Joe Buck completed a round at the annual celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe a few years back, playing partner Carson Palmer asked him, "How do you not curse on the air?"

It's a good thing Fox pays him to call World Series and NFC title games rather than his own golf game. Buck's language can be saltier than the rim of a margarita.

A pulled approach on the par-3 sixth hole at Edgewood Valley prompted a John McEnroe-esque "You jerk!"

He bogeyed No. 9 and hollered: "Worst three-putt of my life. (Fudge)!"

A bad putt from the fringe on No. 13 warranted an "Oh, you suck!"

Buck has worked "octopus" and "sushi" into his broadcasts — words texted to him by buddies — but he never has come close to going blue.

"When I put the headset on," he said, "it doesn't cross my mind."

Maybe because Buck is a pro's pro who called his first NFL game for Fox at 25 — Buccaneers versus Bears at Soldier Field in 1994. "It went OK," he said. "I was just hoping they wouldn't take me away in handcuffs."

His father, Jack Buck ("I don't believe what I just saw!"), is on the Mount Rushmore of baseball broadcasters. He teed it up with Stan Musial the week he died in 2002 from an infection after a lung cancer operation.

"He had a terrible temper on the golf course," Joe said. "He also was the funniest man I knew."

Buck grew up in St. Louis and pitched a no-hitter in high school but lost thanks to two walks and an error. He tried to walk on at Indiana but dislocated his right shoulder trying to hit 90 on the radar gun.

He has had two back operations, so he prefers walking 18 holes to riding on bumpy cart paths.

He began playing golf as an alternative to sleeping in after Cardinals night games and got close to a scratch handicap. That was not necessarily a good thing.

"When you're not playing to a 2," he said, "life can get expensive."

He's now a 5, appropriate for a man born at 5:55 p.m. and who uses Taylor Made balls stamped with "55."

He would have preferred a birdie-4 on the first hole after sticking his approach to 10 feet.

"Denis Savard can kiss my butt," Buck joked, referring to my last "18 holes with" partner at Edgewood Valley. (The Blackhawks great shot an 82.)

At the Tahoe event, Buck celebrated a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 by throwing his putter in the lake. After an NBC producer told him the cameras missed the shot, a sheepish Buck asked, "OK, can I get my putter back?"

He also has coughed up the $18,000 required to play in the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am but felt like an interloper playing alongside pros fighting for their livelihoods.