Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Real Inside Look at the Golf Media

Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun was at the Canadian Open to cover the event for the paper, just like a hundred other guys and girls were. In an interesting swerve, though, he wrote a column talking about what it's really like for the media to cover a golf event. It's so spot on that I had to share it.

If you're a reporter, Canadian Open week was mostly about sitting in the media tent and stuffing yourself with old tuna sandwiches, gross coffee and stale potato chips. And after it's all over, a few beers to wash it down.

And people wonder why sportswriters tend to be sweaty mouth-breathers.

I did go on the Glen Abbey course and walk some holes with the leaders a few times, but every time I stepped anywhere near a fairway, it poured rain.

And so, for the majority of the tournament, we sat in the tent, passed wind, and made fun of everybody and everything -- like the dude sitting behind my colleague Ken Fidlin and I. About every 15 minutes he would call someone named Sara and yell into the phone: "Well Sara, Chez Reavie is still holding a five-stroke lead over Anthony Kim, after picking up a birdie on 15 ... blah, blah, blah." (A golfer named Chez. There's a stretch.)

Anyway, after the guy called Sara for about the 15th time, Fids turned to me and said, "I don't know who this Sara is, or why he has to call her with updates every 15 minutes, but, man, is he ever whipped."

Turns out the dude was a radio guy. He was loud, though.

This happens at almost every golf event. There's a radio guy providing updates for syndication, or a sports talk station, or a news station. That happened here in the DC area for the AT&T National with WTOP Radio and SportsTalk 980 (now ESPN 980).

Then Buffery gets into some observations on the golf fan that I enjoyed:

I actually enjoyed wandering around the Glen Abbey grounds, observing the crowds and wondering to myself what it is about golf that compels conservative, middle-aged white guys to dress like pimps, with their blue pants, orange shirts and multi-coloured fedoras.

The other thing I noticed about golf fans? They're the biggest bootlicks in pro sports. I realize that fans love their athletes and, as a society, we tend to put more stock on a guy who is good at hitting a little ball than someone who performs life-saving brain surgery. But golf fans are just too much.

Every time one of the golfers hit a ball off the tee, the fans would yell: "Great shot Stephen!" or "Way to go Mikey!" followed by a revered gasp. The ball would fly into the trees or land in a bunker and the fans would all stand there looking ridiculous. And the golfers, most of whom make white bread look exotic, would walk away mumbling to themselves.

It is quite interesting to see the disparity between the constant exasperation of pros inside the ropes and the over-exuberance of drunk guys that are walking around the course. Those same guys, usually, are somehow alone - or at least without female accompaniment. The good looking women are usually following the young guys around the links. And the pros notice good looking women. If you've read Chris Lewis' The Scorecard Always Lies, you'll know that the term for those women is "talent." (Also, this may explain why guys dress like pimps and goofs.)

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