Perhaps the headline should be 365 knocked out, as in 365 consecutive days of blogs written since I launched alistairtaitgolf.com.
Allow me to give myself a wee pat on the back. I feel I’ve deserved it. Too bad I’m doing dry January or I’d be celebrating with a nice malt.
I had no plan when Golfweek dropped the bomb on me just over a year ago with the insensitive line: “Let’s just cut to the chase. We’re not going to renew your contract” after 25 years, 12 hour days and hundreds of thousands of words. I set up alistairtaitgolf.com with no real agenda. I had three simple objectives: write something every day, write about whatever I felt like writing and give my honest opinion
Three hundred and sixty-five days later I feel I’ve achieved that.
Initially I thought it would be tough to sit down at my desk and come up with something to write every single day, especially during a pandemic when I wasn’t going to golf tournaments. I attended my last golf tournament in November 2019 when I covered the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai for Golfweek. Little did I know then that not only would it be my last tournament for Golfweek, it would be my last tournament for 13 months.
To my surprise, finding something to write about every day has been relatively easy. Perhaps that comes from years of writing three, four, five daily stories for the web at tournaments. Or maybe it’s just there’s always so much going on, so many aspects to this great game, that penning one story a day has been relatively easy. I do admit there have been a few times when I’ve sat down at my desk, looked at the blank screen, the modern tabula rasa, and wondered, what do I write?
Yet there’s been an enormous sense of freedom from filling that blank page, a sense of complete satisfaction at getting the gist of an idea and seeing it through to completion. That freedom comes from being able to write what I want to write, not what someone else told me to write. Believe me, there’s nothing more soul destroying than being at a major championship and being told to write 150-200 words about this or that because everyone else is writing it. Er, no, no one has to do that.
Get 156 players in a field like the Open Championship and that’s 156 stories. Yet too often only a few stories get written. Sometimes only one if the player’s name is Tiger Woods.
I’ve enjoyed the largesse of writing about golf courses, tournaments, players, rules, historical pieces, equipment, issues of the day and anything else that tickles my fancy. Bearing in mind the considerable feedback I’ve received, I think I’ve done not a bad job. Sure, my views have been challenged, a few have even been disparaged and I’ve been called some choice names. I don’t mind criticism, as long as it’s positive. When it strays into ad hominem attacks then I draw a line and refuse to engage. Thankfully, I have only had to do that on handful of occasions.
Largely the feedback has been positive. One former Walker Cup captain said: “I’ve been enjoying your blogs – don’t always agree, but enjoy.” Fair enough, I don’t claim omniscience. I’m perfectly happy to listen to the other side of the argument and admit when I’m wrong. Hopefully I’m right most of the time, but I reserve the right to speak my mind.
Although my views may not always go down well with the game’s authorities, I would hope they respect the fact I’m willing to speak my mind, a diminishing aspect of golf writing in my view. Thankfully there are still a few golf writers willing to hold authority, players, to account, but the number is shrinking rapidly. Too often a lot of golf stories could have been produced by the PR departments of the various tours, governing bodies and golf associations. I’m not calling for negative stories on a continuous basis, just for golf writers and publications to exercise balance: sure, write the happy, positive stories, but we shouldn’t be afraid to tell it like it is.
I feel I’ve done that throughout my career and over the last year. I aim to repeat it for the next one too. Thanks for coming along for the ride these last 365 days. Hopefully you’ll stay on board for the next 365.
#JustSaying: “Let’s not confuse the press release with the reality.” William McIlvanney