Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blogging, Augusta, and Herbert Warren Wind

In this day and age of the prominence of blogging, it is easy for people to sit behind a computer screen, never get credentialed for an event or even show up on the grounds, and complain about a bevy of things about golf. Bloggers complain about sponsors, players, coverage, the course - everything. Some do it with a great background in the sport. Some do it with no semblance of knowledge at all. But, all do it in the vernacular of today's world. There are very few "poetic" blog writers. That's not the nature of the medium. It is also not the nature of the way we verbally express ourselves anymore.

Ken Burger, who writes for the Charleston Post and Courier, seems to be denouncing that trend of a shift to colloquial language in a piece in the paper today. He speaks of usage of the words "freak" and "fluke" by and surrounding defending champion Zach Johnson.

Welcome to the Freak and Fluke Masters.

Those words have actually been spoken here in the sanctity of Augusta National Golf Club this week as we prepare to kick off the 2008 Masters Golf Tournament.

Neither word is considered customary language in this grand old game that prides itself on gentlemanly behavior and decorum.

Indeed, they seem oddly out of place.

Like suddenly seeing a couple of dirt bikes flying down the hill on the 10th fairway.

Or somebody fishing in Rae's Creek from the Hogan Bridge at the par-3 12th.

Or a bathing beauty in a bikini sunning in the bunker next to the 18th green.

To hear these words uttered in the context of professional golf is akin to hearing a preacher cuss in church or a Mercedes rumble by without a muffler.

And yet, they are now part of the vernacular, the official record of the game's most prestigious and pious golf tournament where wordsmithing was once considered a gentleman's sport unto itself.

That's quite a series of visuals, especially the bikini one. His mind must have been wandering in that sentence. Anyway, I digress. It has been 50 years since Herbert Warren Wind coined the term "Amen Corner." Today, I suppose that Burger would hypothesize that no writer (blogger or traditional media) would come up with such a catchy, appropriate, and lasting term. He appears to be longing for the days when writers and observers would only speak in formal, well-meaning, eloquent terms.

Today, Aaron Oberholser calls the revamped 7th hole "horrible." Zach Johnson refers to Tiger Woods as a "freak". Poetry in motion about the fluid swing of Ernie Els no longer makes the press.

Things have changed in the game of golf writing. It is very rare that a piece is written today in the tradition of the great golf scribblers of the past. Why? Because everything is broadcast, covered, and scrutinized. The visual provided by a stunning description is a lost artform, a dead language. Just like filming a movie in Aramaic seemed ridiculous (although it made a billion dollars worldwide, because it had English subtitles), that type of language is no longer used.

Our society is based on expressing ourselves in as few words as possible. As I share text messages with people, I don't wax long for a message. I can say all I want in a few bits and phrases.

Mstrs cvrage on ESPN @ 4! Wtch, k thz!

I suppose I am not making a judgment on Burger's sentiment. I still love reading a great piece of writing, like Bill Fields' profile of Arnold Palmer. But, those are fewer and far between. Maybe I like it that way because it makes those pieces more special.

1 comment:

wendyu said...

hmmm, maybe I should work on my writing skills. On second thought - nahhhhh!!

Keep up the good work! I enjoy reading your posts.