Cugel the Clever’s Guide to Golf Reporters on The Dying Earth (Second Draft, in progress)

The reference is to the Jack Vance Science Fiction books which take place on a distant future earth as the sun is burning out.  It seems apropos when discussing today’s golf reporters.  I plan to expand and update this until I consider it finished.

  1. Steve Elling.  He stopped updating his Golf Blot website in December, and he’s not tweeting much.  My hope is that Mr. Elling is using his time to write a tell-all book.  I’ll buy a copy.
  2. Stephanie Wei.  She did a podcast not long ago with Adam Fonseca at Golf Unfiltered, about which I wrote.  She sounded less than certain she’d continue covering golf beyond the two Hawaiian tournaments.  Happily, Wei Under Par is still going strong, and she’s traveling to and covering tournaments.  In fact, check out her latest tweets to get a moving description of Rickie post-playoff.  (Actually, read the full article she wrote.  “He walked out the back door with emotions running high and tears running down his face. It was just brutal to watch. You had to feel for him.”  And watch the video!  You’ll choke up, I guarantee it.)  She does a great job, and you should probably read her website before you read this one.  You should definitely read her website before you read Golf Channel, Golf Digest, CBS, and the rest.
  3. jalnichols.  I’m putting this guy early on the list because I probably spent more time talking about him last year than all the others combined.  Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but without jalnichols, there is no Euro Seven, which was one of the top five stories in golf last year.  Do I say that tongue-in-cheek?  Not really.  Outside the mainstream golf media, there is a pretty lively debate going on about the strength of non-US tours.  I’m lonely defending the Euro/Asian Tours, but I’m on the right side.  Anyway, I assumed I’d let the Euro Seven fade away this year, but, alas, it appears jalnichols is about to kick the hornet’s nest again.  We’ll know soon.  So, before I go back to battling Moriarty, let me praise him.  Sunday, as I watched the conclusion of the Phoenix Open, I visited various golf websites.  I found this comment in jalnichol’s Twitter timeline: “Some context for the Rickie driver decision, he had one of the largest (positive) gaps between driver and three wood performance in 2015.”  At the time, I thought, That’s extremely useful information.  Later, it dawned on me what it wasn’t: It wasn’t a stupidstic.  I disagree vehemently with jalnichols on many things (Branden Grace and Anirban Lahiri, two prominent ones), but he provides actual, honest-to-goodness, useful statistical information.  Put bluntly, he is 1000 times better than Golf Channel’s Stupidstics King, Justin Ray.  Okay, enough with being Mr. Nice Guy; it’s time to watch jalnichol’s website for what, we anticipate — based on two cryptic “questions” he recently tweeted — will be a doubling down on his misguided Euro Tour bashing.
  4. Adam Fonseca.  Just a week ago, he announced a change in direction at his Golf Unfiltered website, hitting on a point we’ve often made to complaining readers: “It can be a grind to find new ways to offer opinions on the same things we all see when we watch pro tournaments on TV (or attend in person). It’s an even bigger challenge to review golf equipment […]. There are many sites that excel at both of the above, and it is foolish of me to try and compete against them.”  It’s an interesting, open-hearted piece worth reading.  As was Adam’s own submission to his new Cart Barn Confessionals feature (although, when I read it, it badly needed another round of editing).  I assume Fonseca will continue the podcast interviews.
  5. Geoff Shackelford.  Should I include Shackelford’s website in this Guide?  After all, he has strong ties to Golf Channel, among others.  Nevertheless, Shackelford regularly finds and writes about things the mainstream media doesn’t.  Also, he’s fighting the good fight as to rolling back ball distance.  (That alone puts some distance between him and the Golf Powers.)
  6. Shane Ryan.  I reviewed his book last year.  I think I did a Part I and a Part II, and still didn’t cover all the notes I jotted down.  He updates his website, Tobacco Road Blues, semi-regularly, but certainly not frequently.  However, he’s deserving of the terms “writer” and “journalist,” so when he writes something, it’s generally of high quality.  He also does a good number of the inanely-named “Friends of Tiger” podcast.  (Is that name ironic?  Or is it ironic that it’s not ironic?  With millennials — I use that term sloppily, but is there any other way to use it? — “irony” is a get-out-of-jail-free card.)  I’m not sure if Ryan’s got a golf/sports writing gig in addition to his website (he should), but he definitely tweets about sports a lot.

I’ll write next about Chris Solomon (the No Laying Up guy) and anyone else I might think of.  It looks like Chris Solomon may have been hired by SB Nation.  Or maybe he’s just writing the occasional piece for them.  Anyone know?  If anyone knows more than me about any of these guys, please weigh in.  I follow some of them closer than others.

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