Best. Interview. Ever.

Foreward

For those wondering what Mr. Elling was talking about, here’s a list of Kyle Porter’s most recent articles at CBS Sports:

  • LOOK: Justin Thomas is terrifying with Rickie Fowler’s hair
  • Billy Horschel thinks no golf books would do well without Tiger Woods
  • Caddie says he didn’t think twice about calling himself Tiger’s ‘slave’
  • A 25-year streak was broken on the PGA Tour today with a first-hole ace
  • Tiger Woods pays homage to father, other military on Veterans Day
  • European Tour likely relaxing its membership to help Ryder Cup
  • Williams has one disappointment about caddying for Tiger Woods
  • Here’s one way Jordan Spieth is trying to not be like Tiger Woods
  • Two-time cancer survivor commits to play college golf at SMU
  • Singh found out deer antler spray was illegal because of a Jason Dufner poop
  • Jordan Spieth takes talents to the Middle East, will play globally in 2016
  • Eight questions we have about golf in 2016 include Tiger Woods’ return
  • New PGA Tour winner (and Missouri alum) addresses race issues
  • WATCH: Nobody in New York knows who Louis Oosthuizen is

I almost feel bad for posting that.  But, hey, Porter gets paid for posting it.  The “poop” headline makes a nice bookend for an earlier one, “WATCH: Woman (possibly?) urinates during Tiger Woods interview.”

Elling doesn’t think that’s journalism?  Get with the times, man.  Poop and piss have replaced who, what, when, where, and why.

Here We Go…

Thoughts on the interview:

(This was rather hastily written, but I’m being pulled in several directions this morning.  The important thing is to listen to the actual interview.  After all, I’m merely commenting on what was in it.)

  1. Mr. Elling contrasts the “good old days” (my phrase, not his) — when Golf Digest would arrive in readers’ mailboxes, and readers would devour the well-written, well-edited articles with great interest — to what passes for golf journalism today.  I didn’t read Golf Digest when young, but I did read Sports Illustrated, and the articles were… intelligent.  I got my first subscription when I was in junior high, and I learned a lot of vocabulary words while reading about sports.  There wasn’t any “awesome” or “epic” or “bitchslapping” (or that era’s “cool talk” equivalent).  It really is night and day.  “Dumbed down” is being too kind.
  2. Mr. Elling makes a clear distinction between true golf journalism and golf blogging.  This led to a discussion of how today’s bloggers do their own editing, and, often, being in a rush, making typos or other simple mistakes, which results in the readers blasting them over such minutiae.
  3. Elling sees today’s landscape as a battle for the attention of two sectors: older people who demand steak, i.e., quality journalism, and younger people who demand not steak, but sizzle.  The steak people are annoyed by the sizzle (bad journalism), and the sizzle people are annoyed by steak (quality journalism).  I don’t see it as a battle of old vs young, but rather smart vs stupid.  (By the way, Elling didn’t use the steak/sizzle analogy; these notes are my take, remember.)
  4. Aside: Elling and Fonseca confined their discussion to the world of golf, but obviously this race to the bottom is seen in all sectors of the media.
  5. Aside:  Is it smart to appeal to dumb people?  Sadly, I believe the answer is yes.  I’ve written before about how the Nigerian e-mail scammers deliberately filled their letters with simple mistakes.  They did so to weed out the smart people who would never fall for the scam.  They wanted only dumb people responding, because they had a chance to hook them.  Golf once appealed to smart, successful people and the ads showed it: luxury goods, corporate consulting, insurance companies, investment brokers and advisors.  That is still true to an extent on television, but not online.
  6. If you haven’t listened to the interview, you really need to.  Mr. Elling gives us a veteran insider’s take on the crap we encounter online.  Not just the mindless articles, but also the click-bait photos of scantily-clad women, trick shot videos, and all the other crap/trolling we constantly complain about.  Two quotes I jotted down: “unreadable websites” and “style over substance.”  Amen, and amen.
  7. Elling referred to CBS’s Kyle Porter as being “positioned as their expert.”  This was not meant as an insult so much as commentary on the state of golf journalism.  One must admit it is interesting that the home of the Masters doesn’t feel the need to have an online presence beyond “AWESOME New Trick Shot Video” or “Tiger Rockin’ New Kicks at Epic NBA Game.”
  8. I need to listen again.  I have a note “blasts golf digest,” and I don’t recall why.  Maybe it had to do with these quotes I also noted: “insulting,” “three paragraphs of complete crap,” “totally disposable,” and “upsetting, disappointing.”  I also had “turns off older readers.”
  9. There was a shot at Tim Finchem’s long-ago comment about growing golf to equal the NFL or something.  I need to research that.  I thought I remembered him saying that, and Elling’s comment confirms he actually did.
  10. I agreed with pretty much every word in the interview, but I come from a dramatically different perspective.  They bemoaned the fact that it is hard as hell to make a decent living as a golf journalist these days.  That’s obviously true, but it doesn’t affect me.  So, in one regard, I don’t care.  However, Fonseca and Elling see the return of true journalism, intelligent journalism, as a possible solution, or at least a partial solution.  I hope they are right, but I have serious doubts.  Industries change, and they don’t go back.  Once upon a time, rock/pop musicians toured to sell albums.  After Napster arrived on the scene, they make albums to sell tour tickets.  And they don’t make near the money they once did, and certainly not as easily.
  11. Here’s a problem they face, as I see it.  Say you hang out with Nick Faldo and the boys covering golf up close and personal.  Do you suppose their most interesting conversations occur on the air, or in a bar when they can speak openly?  We “Old Lions” have no desire/need to make money, so we can always speak/write/comment like we are in a bar.  Now, would you rather hear, “Oh, yeah, no way Woods gets sixty visits from Galea and Lindsay if he isn’t doping like mad,” or, “Gosh, gee, that Tiger has the wow factor, doesn’t he?  Even after his auto accident.  And now, look at him with his adorable children.  The fans cheer him.  I’m just going to call him Mr. Wonderful, and if anyone brings up doping or the twisted sex stuff, I’m going to put my fingers in my ears so I won’t hear it.”  I’m sorry, but we’re never going back to the days when Tiger Woods or A-Rod or Lance Armstrong could have their depravity covered up by the sports media — and I don’t care how much money sportswriters made back in those days!  We don’t want “analysis” about how Woods made all golfers rich, but, we are tacitly told, all the other sports — some which saw a greater rise in money than golf — did so because of the economy and the corporate takeover of sports.

Anyway, that pretty much covers my notes.  I numbered them to make it easier to point out your favorites to the Pulitzer committee.  Like I said, I’ve been distracted this morning, so this was done quickly and clumsily.  I hope I don’t get fired for my shoddy work.

Thoughts on the Steve Elling Interview conducted by Adam Fonseca

Let me do a few link things before I start:

The Interview.

Adam Fonseca’s golf website, Golf Unfiltered.  [I just noticed he put up a new article tonight, “This Week in Golf Bullshit: The Status of Golf Writing.”  Oh, baby!  Can’t wait to read it.  I’ll comment on it tomorrow, too.]

Adam’s visit to Lanny H Golf to leave a comment about a dressing-down I gave him about something he wrote.  (“Steroids and PEDs and the PGA: How about we try claiming they are no big deal?“)

Steve Elling’s website, Golf Blot.

Three of the reasons I hold Steve Elling in such high regard.  (“The Three Sins of Steve Elling“)

An old Pond Scrum by Elling and Huggan, which will, I hope, put to rest any suggestion that Elling is a Tigerstream golf media moron.  I can’t help but post an extended excerpt:

Tiger Woods was making the rounds last week while pimping his latest video game. Did you form any new impressions?

Huggan: Nothing new. But I did laugh at the fixed grin on his face when he appeared on that late night talk show. The host roasted him pretty good and he had to sit there and take it. Not something Tiger is used to, I suspect. As for the interviews themselves, they, as per usual, revealed nothing of any substance. Come to think of it, does he have any substance?

Elling: You’re talking about the Jimmy Fallon show on NBC, where Fallon made him squirm for several awkward minutes. It even made me squirm, it was so awful. I guess these are the levels to which Woods will sink to hawk his few remaining wares — humiliated on TV and forced to sit there and take it. With a smile, no less. He was a good sport, to be sure. And a well-compensated one.

Huggan: More interesting is how the formerly great man will do at Bay Hill. As I recall, there is never a shortage of rough at Arnie’s place, so Tiger better be hitting more good shots than we have seen so far this year.

Elling: When Woods’ interview with the Golf Channel aired — access again granted as a result of him hawking the video game — it was aired in the Tampa press room and nobody asked for the volume to be turned on. Seriously, the only writer comments were about how his hairline is backing up like a balata ball.

Huggan: Let’s also hope we’ve heard all we’re going to hear — at least in the short term — from Sean Foley, golf’s poisoned dwarf. And I never ever comment on hair. I think you know why.

Elling: I won’t say he had nothing of interest to offer. His comments to ESPN (culled from another video-game interview) were illuminating when he said he wasn’t playing more often now because of his kids, who are his priority. Of course, he said this before: “Family comes first.” So, are we to believe him this time? ESPN, of course, didn’t pursue that line of reasoning, or question the fact that he is using his children as an excuse not to play or alter his schedule. Hmmmm.

Huggan: You mean the kids whose christenings he missed? Or the ones whose birthdays he routinely skips? If Tiger’s lips are moving, etc. The laughable thing is that he claims to be playing less because of his kids. Have you noticed any change in his schedule? I haven’t.

For anyone who thinks I give Elling a free pass, oh, man, I just found a piece where I savaged him.  It’s not my best, but “castrati choir” was pretty inspired.  Bear in mind that I wrote the piece during the big “comeback” of Tiger Woods, at a time when I had absolutely no use for the golf media.  I had actually quit following golf, and I was incredibly disappointed to find Elling was on the post-2009 Woods cheerleading team.  “Betrayed” might be the word.

Looking back at those those two articles, it’s mind-blowing to me to see that I blasted Elling on June 12, 2012, and then on July 24, I wrote my most praise-worthy article about Elling ever, and singled out pieces he wrote on July 3, 8, and 10.  (I wonder if my “tough love” was the reason for the turnaround.  Everyone knows my “tough love” article addressing Rickie Fowler at the New Orleans Open earlier this year pushed him to victory at the Players.  Sometimes I’m amazed at the influence I have.)

(I will discuss the Elling-Fonseca interview itself, I promise.  But I have decided to do it tomorrow morning.  I have an envelope — front and back — full of notes; I won’t forget anything.  It took me a little longer to dig up the old information and links than I expected.  I enjoyed doing it, but it took time.

Besides, it would probably help a person if they were up on Elling’s past history — and my commentary about him — before reading my remarks regarding the interview.  So I urge everyone to peruse those links I posted.  In the case of my links, they are Nobel Prize quality, I assure you.  Oh, and obviously, listen to the podcast interview!)

(more coming — I’m just getting started…   stay tuned for my analysis of the interview…)

*****

As you know, Lanny H scours the worlds — both the physical one and the virtual one — to bring you the most interesting golf information that exists.  We discovered something very special today: a 50-minute commercial-free interview of Steve Elling by Adam Fonseca.

I’ll add my comments later, but I wanted to get this link out as quickly as possible.  My hat is off to me.  You’re welcome.

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14 Responses to Best. Interview. Ever.

  1. JoseyWales. says:

    great podcast Lanny…how did you find it?

    • lannyh says:

      You know, I guess it was just elbow grease!

      Thanks, again, for the link. I jotted down notes, and I’ll try to write them up tonight. That discussion was full-bore truth, which is always interesting. And no tip-toeing about tulips when it came to the state of today’s golf journalism.

  2. Sports-realist. says:

    ….All I heard was Steve Elling with Eldrick’s dick in his mouth, and brooding over the fact that Eldrick is going away(but he still had hope from how he played in one tournament last year, or something)…
    ….Again, he basically gives ALL the credit for interest in golf in the 90’s and 00’s to Eldrick, instead of understanding how the credit card, housing, and overall free credit bubbles allowed the economy to appear strong, while people had alot more disposable income………
    ….Elling should know that the INTERNET is primarily responsible for lack of interest in magazines, newspapers ect…..
    ….So I’m not sure why you consider Elling such a ‘rebel’…He seems like your typical ‘go with the flow’ journalist, who has 8000 stories about Eldrick and 3 about everyone else…..

    • Sports-realist. says:

      Or to put it another way, that Elling doesn’t understand, if Woods would be just starting on the PGA right now, the media would ofcourse be pushing it, but the ECONOMIC reality is still there for average joe citizen….PLUS the internet would still not require that many writers for the PGA tour, since bloggers are just as interesting, or MORE so, than these full time pga writer guys, who think they have a MONOPOLY on who these players are…..After all how poorly did ALL these writers miss what a schmuck Woods was in his personal life(both steroids and cheating), even though they were supposedly around him all the time….

      • Sports-realist. says:

        Or If Elling and friends DID know about the indiscretions/cheating, they certainly weren’t telling us about it anyway, so what value did they offer, besides being ‘YES’ men and towing the line…..They were most relevant in the days of RADIO or when we really couldn’t see most of the golf events….Now, with all the other channels, that is no longer the case….

    • lannyh says:

      Oh, no. Elling got off the Woods bandwagon after Thanksgiving 2009. His Pond Scum with John Huggan was one of the few places one could find a disparaging word about Woods. (I wonder if any of those are still available online.)

      As far as being a “rebel,” he had a Triple Crown of columns about “inappropriate topics” that precipitated his departure for the sandy pastures of Middle East sports. In a day and age where even a man with as solid a spine as Nick Faldo can suddenly decide Woods should NOT withdraw from the Masters for signing an incorrect scorecard, those three articles belong on golf journalism’s Mt. Rushmore. I’ll try to put links up in the piece I’m about to write.

    • lannyh says:

      Oh, by the way, I think I know the comment that ruffled your feathers. I agree with you that Elling spoke BS on that. He is probably influenced by his personal journey through the past twenty years. When he thinks of things like mortgage payments, generous expense accounts, etc., he probably has a subconscious personal connection between Woods and prosperity. You and I — and, increasingly, the general public — know better. Elling was just going with an old canard. Give him a break; it was a 50-minute interview; not every sentence is going to be a gem.

      He’s the best, but he’s not perfect. In fact, I wrote him a tweet about something I disagreed with as soon as I listened to the interview. Also, his comparison of a 16-year-old Woods playing in his first PGA tournament to Patrick Rodgers at 22 or whatever was apples to oranges.

  3. I look forward to your thoughts. 🙂

  4. DanishDude says:

    Basically I don’t think anything really has changed.

    The “stupid”/”smart” people ratio is still approximately 80/20 and this is reflected on the Internet content and traffic. Pretty much the same in the “good old days” if you compared tabloids to broadsheets, at least here in Denmark (or Europe) – don’t know about the U.S?

    http://en.ejo.ch/ethics-quality/tabloid-vs-broadsheet

    • lannyh says:

      It seems worse to me. For years the only place I was exposed to “tabloid journalism” was when I stood in the line at the supermarket, laughing at “Elvis Sighted in UFO Over Arizona” headlines. An obvious troll, but how is that different from “She Did WHAT With a Four-Iron?” in the side margin at one of the big golf media websites.

      Maybe you are right, though. Maybe I didn’t pay as much attention in the past. On the other hand, if you go to the Sports Illustrated Vault and read some of the stories from forty years ago, they are definitely aimed at a better-read audience.

  5. DanishDude says:

    Here’s another take on the subject:

    http://nolayingup.com/2015/11/10/november-mailbag/

  6. JoseyWales says:

    [Josey, Josey, Josey… a 600 word cut-and-paste quote is way, way too much. Just pick out two or three key sentences to quote, and then describe the rest in your own words. — Lanny]

    from No Laying Up site:

    The main problem is that there are so many people out there writing, yet not enough interesting topics to cover. Golf is not a team sport, so there is no team aspect to report on, no armchair manager/coach/general manager roles to play, trade possibilities, free agency, divisional races, or (real) playoffs, etc. It’s just a bunch of guys playing golf, and only a handful of them are actually interesting characters…

    [to continue reading, go to NoLayingUp.com — Lanny]

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