Don’t make yourself the story.
That’s one of the first rules every student learns in Journalism 101. And I’m about to break it like Colin Montgomerie after a Jakarta rain delay.
In my first assignment as senior writer for GolfChannel.com, I’ve been asked to introduce myself to you, a proposition which now joins, “Just drive the ball into that wide open fairway” atop my personal list of things that are much easier said than done.
My first idea was to open with, “Hello, world,” but it turns out some dude already beat me to it. Then I thought about, “Hi, my name is Jason and I’m a golfaholic,” but the truth is, I’m still in the denial stage.
I probably shouldn’t be. When not reviving my role as sputtering shankopotamous, I’m supplementing lost wagers as a hack golfer with this career as a hack writer.
Or blogger. Or chatter. Or whatever you want to call me. I’ll be filling numerous roles in this new position, which is perfectly fine. Some people wake up in the middle of the night thinking about their golf games. I wake up with column ideas and Twitter lines.
Oh, about that: Yeah, I tweet. A lot, actually. Check it out, but don't expect myriad tirades about some player’s increased wrist supination and why it’s destined to ruin his career. Instead, I tend to keep things light. Sarcastic. Maybe even slightly entertaining.
Just promise me this: When I take a dig at your favorite player – and I probably will at some point – don't take it personally.
I've been accused of being both a Tiger Woods hater and a Tiger Woods, uh, lover by an equal amount of enraged readers over the years, which I take as a collective compliment toward my objectivity.
Speaking of remaining objective, my two favorite courses – and yes, I’ve played each – are Augusta National and Pebble Beach. Ask me to vote for only one and I’ll filibuster forever.
Not that I’ve been around that long. I have worked on the professional golf beat since 2004, though a fan for much longer. Let me put it this way: I’m old enough to recall Seve Ballesteros famously wearing blue during final rounds, but young enough to think it's cool that Rickie Fowler emulates the idea with his own traffic cone-orange Sunday style.
I believe pace of play is the most exasperated issue in the game. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in favor of slow play, but it’s like traffic: Everyone hates it, it’s always some other guy’s fault and nobody can figure out a proper solution.
Touring professionals contend a slow partner can adversely affect their games. Well, guess what? So can a fast partner. Or a rude one. Or a smelly one. Or – gasp! – a less talented one.
Advocates of speeding up the game maintain that one of the negative byproducts is amateur players emulating the guys they see on TV. Well, if that's the case, instead of just playing slower wouldn't they also play better?
Hey, I'll poke fun at Kevin Na and J.B. Holmes as much as the next guy. But really: When was the last time you watched a group and said, 'Boy, that four-hour, 18-minute round was so much more enjoyable than yesterday's four-hour, 27-minute round!'
The point is, these players are competing for an awful lot of money. If you had a seven-figure paycheck riding on your work performance, wouldn't you take a few extra seconds to make sure everything was perfect, rather than rushing through it? If this is the worst issue facing our game, consider it in pretty good shape.
What really “grinds my gears,” to borrow from noted golf enthusiast Peter Griffin – hey, he once blew off his wedding anniversary to play 18 holes, albeit to a near-fatal result – is the outdated notion that golf is a game only for the upper crust, especially at its most elite levels.
Aren’t we past this? Haven’t we already learned the stories of such players as Lee Trevino and Vijay Singh – self-made men who were handed nothing and turned it into everything? I mean, really: How many more South African chicken farmers need to win green jackets before this perception is proven invalid?
If you still think golf isn't diverse, let me remind you that at one point during last month’s Masters, five different continents filled the top-five places on the leaderboard. Don’t complain unless you were disappointed someone from Antarctica wasn’t up there, too.
I’ve got plenty of other opinions on plenty of other issues, but I plan on sticking around here for awhile, so I’ll save some for later. One final thought: I couldn’t be happier about joining the talented team here at Golf Channel and I look forward to discussing, debating and delighting in this great game with you for a long time to come.
As for breaking that first rule right off the tee, don’t worry about phoning it in to officials. I’ll make sure to assess myself a proper penalty on the scorecard.
Follow Jason Sobel on Twitter @JasonSobelGC