Response to Golf Digest’s “Where have all the golf writers gone?”

Golf Digest has an interesting new article by Ed Sherman, “Where have all the golf writers gone?”  After reading it, I was left feeling a little bit sad and a whole lot resigned.

The clock can’t be turned back.  As a consumer, I’m very aware journalism is in bad shape.  I’d gladly pay for quality newspaper and magazine writing — if they were only available to subscribers.  I don’t want to pay for something others get not only free, but sooner.  So we’re left with two questions circling around each other in a downward spiral: (1) Why pay for quality journalism when there is no financial return? (2) Why create quality journalism when there is scant financial compensation?  And, again, it must be stressed, the clock can’t be turned back.

I found humor when, after reading about Global Golf Post in the article, I visited their website.  It was a formatting nightmare (apparently they target only “mobile”).  I left in ten seconds.

Then I googled for information about the author of the piece, Ed Sherman.  I visited his website, which badgered me twice in fifteen seconds to follow him on Twitter, so I left there, too.

Someone said they were disappointed newspapers were getting rid of golf writers, that newspaper readers skew older and so do golf fans.  But I would make the point that while golf fans may skew older, they definitely skew wealthier, and many wealthier old people adopted digital quite some time ago.  I guess I’m saying I didn’t find that argument convincing at all.

In the old days, writers covered many beats.  Dan Jenkins famously covered golf and college football (and who knows what else).  It’s hard to believe the Dallas Morning News couldn’t send someone to Augusta when Jordan Spieth won.

On the other hand, what is the value add?  Seriously, that’s a real question.  What’s the value add?  An on-site tidbit about how surprised the reporter was that pimento cheese sandwiches are so cheap?  That there’s not a weed to be found on the premises?  The actual golf activity is covered extensively on television, so most fans view the action as it takes place.  What difference does it make whether DMN sends someone or not?

The trend is not good for golf reporters, I realize, but I won’t cry for them.  For the past twenty years, all they did was prattle on about Tiger Woods.  There weren’t so much reporters as they were cheerleaders.  The world knows that.

Elling and Huggan gave us spirited, irreverent insight with Pond Scrum, but who besides them has there been in the past 20 years?  (By the way, Mr. Elling got the boot right after writing three heavy-hitting pieces.  I don’t know if those were a catalyst, or a case of CBS letting Mr. Elling empty his vaults before his departure.)

Sports Illustrated’s Michael Bamberger seems to recognize his peers are just plain awful, and, for that reason alone, I’m willing to put him at the top of the ladder.  I think he would have fit in with the SI of old, circa 1970.

Dan Jenkins’ tweets?  Sure, I’ll mention those.  And I think Tour Confidential is worth reading when there are golf topics of interest.  (However, while the aforementioned Bamberger and a couple of the others are capable of smart and tart commentary, much of Tour Confidential is still Yay Tiger pablum mixed with obligatory trying-too-hard, gee-the-guy-who-won-this-week-sure-is-swell-isn’t-he swill.)

I don’t have the answer.  I don’t think there is an answer.  Not the kind that the legacy golf media wants, anyway.  After all, the golf establishment are slumlords who do not want to hear they should spend money to repair and renovate.  No, they want their maximum profit today, to hell with next year.

That paragraph leads rather nicely into my upcoming piece we’ll call, “Open Letter to Tiger Woods.”  Or, “How Tiger Woods Can Restore His Legacy and Be Remembered Long After Old Tom Morris and Jack Nicklaus Are Forgotten.”

My article won’t soon be forgotten, either.  Assuming I don’t forget to write it.

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