So this is the end. After a dozen years of yam-yammering in this corner, this voice will finally be silenced. Someone else is due to take this space, someone with a new outlook, someone with a different view to serve up to you.
Actually, I havent been writing about golf all my 43 years as a sportswriter. I didnt actually play golf until I was 28 years old. Thats when my friend Doug, after a year or so of alternately scolding and cajoling, finally brought an old set of clubs to my home and demanded I play with him. Out of exasperation, he also brought along an old golf bag and even a well-worn pair of spikes. Bereft of all possible excuses, I finally agreed to join him at a local muni.
And, I was hooked. That was in 1973.
In January of 1995 The Golf Channel went on the air. I was one of the uneasy souls who cast my fate with this company. The success of this venture was far from guaranteed, my employment for the next month far from resolved. During those initial months, everyone did everything. I was even on air for a few months, jabbering away with several other souls ' lets see, there was Mark Lye, Deb Vidal, Denis Watson, instructor Gary Smith, and an announcer named Dwayne Ballen. We were thrown together on a show which aired at 12 noon today, 1:30 tomorrow, and 11:30 the day after tomorrow. With such a wide berth of starting times, needless to say we werent a show for very long.
In 2000 this website was redesigned and I became a member of the dot-com team, which was very advantageous to me because I was trained as a writer and not as a television personality. And believe me, I was never a television personality. Now, some will say, You never were a writer, either. But nonetheless, I always felt I was much more of a journalist than a TV bloke.
This job is not easy. I was hired to give my opinions, and the truth is, I am not an opinionated person. But I have tried to throw something out there which would make YOU think. And your feedback to me was like water to a fish ' you have kept me going with your e-mails and your thoughts and YOUR opinions.
The e-mails, Ive decided, come in one of three categories. First, there are the ones who agree wholeheartedly with my topic. Ive gotten to know many of you by name, through the keyboard, even though weve never met face-to-face.
Then there are those who thoughtfully disagree. Those e-mails are important, too. Its impossible for me to be right every time, or for any one person to agree with another every time. Those messages are crucial, too ' and Ive learned a lot from you who beg to differ.
Finally, there is the third category. That is the one which almost always starts with, What a load of crap! Then it goes downhill from there. Those, though, I am happy to say, are few and far between. The first two are far, far more numerous.
Its a great profession, this golf. I married my wife Vicki after having met her at lessons with David Leadbetter. Ive had the honor of making friendships with Davis Love, Nick Price, Corey Pavin, Lee Janzen, Paul Azinger, Brad Bryant, Mark OMeara ... Ive sat in the kitchen while munching a ham-and-egg sandwich made by the late Payne Stewart. Ive played golf with any number of pros ' lets see, there was Sam Snead, Tony Jacklin, Gary Player, Lanny Wadkins, Fred Couples, Phil Mickelson, Nancy Lopez, Jan Stephenson, Hollis Stacey, Michelle Redman, OMeara, both Bart and Brad Bryant, several that I know I have missed. Ive even put my rag-tag game on exhibition with a couple of guys that I met though this column.
Golf has always been rather a mystery to me. I could never come close to mastering the game. But I have swatted it along with a thousand different people, always marveling at the mechanics of a professional who without fail launches it so effortlessly, high and far.
I have been blessed, indeed. Most of all, it has been a great ride enjoying the give-and-take with you the readers. I have been aware many times over that most of you know as much as me, several of you know MORE than me, and all of you have opinions that I have learned from each time I opened another e-mail.
But now, its time to close the back door and slip out into the night. Dont stop communicating ' make the new guy feel like hes one of you, taking care to praise him when he makes a point you think is credible, criticizing him (but politely!) when you think he deserves it. Each of you have been important with your thoughtful praise ' and your honest critiques.
Im going to miss those notes. But its time now. Goodbye!
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