The Golf Channel network was launched in 1995, with a ceremonial flip of the switch by co-founder Arnold Palmer on January 17. The idea of a 24-hour golf network came from media entrepreneur Joseph E. Gibbs of Birmingham, Alabama, who first thought of such a concept in 1991.
1/17/1995: By a ceremonial flip of a switch, The Golf Channel launches by Co-Founders Arnold Palmer & Joe Gibbs
“To see what has happened here is certainly one of the great thrills of my life.”– Arnold Palmer
The men who started it all. Joe Gibbs, Golf Channel co-founder, remembered his great friend, Mr. Palmer: https://twitter.com/GolfChannel/status/780482235354976256
Gibbs felt there was enough interest in golf among the public to support such a network, and commissioned a Gallup Poll to see if his instincts were correct.
With the support of the polling behind him, Gibbs and legendary golfer Palmer then secured $80 million in financing to launch the network, which was among the first cable networks developed to cover one singular sport.
Announced in February 1993, the launch date was targeted for May 1994; it went on the air in early 1995. The first live tournament the channel televised was the Dubai Desert Classic, held January 19–22.
It retooled in September 1995 to be part of basic cable to reach more viewers and ratings rapidly increased. Co-founder Gibbs stepped down at the end of 2001.
Take a look back at how Golf Channel went on the air on January 17, 1995: