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  • Alistair Tait

Painting great golf pictures

Former colleague Jeff Rude used to talk about painting when he wrote. Once he’d done his research, his reporting, he would “just paint.”

Rude painted some great pictures during his time as a senior writer for Golfweek. Alas, the once huge pool of great golf painters is shrinking rapidly. Much of what constitutes golf writing today is more akin to hurried sketches than vast landscapes painted on rich canvases.

Rude, sadly, no longer writes much on golf. He’s not alone. The number of former colleagues and peers from other fine publications no longer writing about this great game is frightening.

That’s not to say there isn’t great golf writing and great golf writers. There is and there are. It’s just hard to find in this internet/social media age when so much fluff passes for golf coverage. Great painters seem to have been side lined in what one former colleague defined as the…

“…the mindless quest to write 220-word drivel posts.”

By the way, that mindless quest often isn’t the fault of golf writers, but results from editors and publishers, often with little golf knowledge, pursuing page views. Why commission a compelling golf story when 150 words on what Tiger had for lunch is going to reach more eyes and garner more clicks?

Even those great golf writers still around are often side lined. A few weeks ago, another fine golf writer who paints great pictures, John Huggan, lamented the fact he had so much to write and nowhere to write it. To paraphrase what I once said abut Rude’s columns, give me a Huggy story, any Huggy story, any day of the week.

I’m thinking this way today after reading Meghan MacLaren’s recent blog. If you’re not reading Meghan’s blog then Get. On. It. If ever you wanted an insight into the mind of a golfer then Meghan more than provides it. Her blogs are always fascinating, much like Eddie Pepperell’s missives. Alas, Eddie hasn’t painted a great picture since May 3. It’s worth reading, too, since it provides a prophetic look at where the European Tour might be heading, a prophecy that largely came true last Friday.

Sorry I digress. I let my stream of consciousness take over. Back to Meghan, who writes:

“Golf can paint a thousand different pictures with the same brush.

Or even a thousand different stories with just a few brushes, fine brushes made from the best fibres.

The last line of Meghan’s blog reads:

“There is always more than meets the eye. Whether that’s in the golf you play, the golf you watch, or the things your twitter feed tells you.

Of course, Meghan’s talking about her own game, but that thought is so apropos when it comes to golf writing. If you there are 156 players in a tournament field, then that’s 156 stories. Yet often the focus in on one or two. Some times just one if a certain guy called Tiger is playing. And that’s just professional golf. There’s a whole other world out there in the golf landscape, one that’s often far more interesting than the professional game.

As Jeff Babineau, another former colleague and great writer, once wrote:

“This sport lends itself to great storytelling like no other.”

When he was editor of Golfweek, Babineau implored his writers to get out and see golf shots and talk to real people. We’re getting less and less of that these days. Not always the fault of the golf writer, I hasten to add. Publications having to cut their budgets out of economic necessity naturally means less golf writers, and less writers getting out to watch golf shots and talk to real people.

Dave Seanor, another former Golfweek colleague and great golf writer and editor, used to implore his staff to not be afraid to bring a little “edge” to their writing. Not much of that now. Oh, for those days in an age when so much of what we read could have been produced by the PR departments of the various tours.

There is great golf writing out there, and great golf writers. It’s just getting harder and harder to find it and them amid the fluff and the click bait. Keep looking.

#JustSaying: “The professional golf watcher never catches the action. I could write a volume on great moments in golf I have missed.” Peter Dobereiner

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