Kelly Tilghman is leaving Golf Channel following the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, ending a 22-year run at the network as one of the original employees of the company.
Tilghman, who grew up in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and played college golf at Duke University, began at the network in 1996 in the tape library, working on the side to improve her delivery and technique as she wanted to become an on-camera personality for the channel. Over time, she indeed did that, working her way onto the network's "Golf Central" program as a reporter, then anchor.
When Golf Channel and the PGA Tour signed a landmark, 15-year agreement for the network to air early round coverage of PGA Tour events and some wall-to-wall coverage of opposite-field and Fall Series tournaments, Tilghman was announced as the lead anchor, making her the first woman to lead PGA Tour telecasts from the 18th tower. She was embroiled in controversy in 2008 when, in response to a comment by lead analyst Nick Faldo about players "ganging up" on Tiger Woods, Tilghman blurted out a response of "lynch him in the back alley." For that, Tilghman, who apologized to a gracious Woods, was suspended two weeks -- after the network said Tilghman would not be suspended.
Tilghman was eventually replaced as lead anchor for the PGA Tour coverage, returning to the anchor desk for "Golf Central," the network's pre-game shows and their "Live From" series. She was occasionally an anchor on "Morning Drive," as well. In recent years, she made less-frequent appearances on-camera.
For four years from 2008-2011, Tilghman was the voiceover for EA Sports' "Tiger Woods PGA Tour" franchise. She caddied for Golf Channel co-founder Arnold Palmer for three consecutive years in the Masters Par-3 Contest, from 2006-2008. Over the decades, Tilghman, who was a globe-trotting professional golfer from 1992-1996 before turning to broadcasting the game, formed a close bond with Mr. Palmer, and that's why she felt it fitting to end her Golf Channel career at Mr. Palmer's Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Orlando.
It's unclear what's next for Tilghman.