Consuming media while producing media is part of an editor’s routine. Here are a few birdies and shanks and why they matter to our segment of this $70 billion industry.
Birdie. David Owen, author of multiple golf books, including “The Making of The Masters,” isn’t devoting 200-plus pages to the game again. But he recently released a book about a subject that could shape the industry’s future – water.
“Where the Water Goes” traces the past, present and future of communities and landscapes affected by the Colorado River. The basin supports $26 billion of recreational activities. Golf represents a big slice of that total. The seven states in the region support a combined 1,802 courses, according to National Golf Foundation facilities data.
A prominent writer with a golf background exploring an environmentally charged issue provides an external boost to the industry, and his chapter about Las Vegas offers examples of courses reducing water footprints for the greater good. Unlike some writers and scholars, Owen ends his work by presenting solutions to the water dilemma. He’s a proponent of city living in resource-starved regions, even claiming water efficiency gains are lost if they are reinvested in sprawl.
Any hack can reveal a problem. It takes a skilled player to help solve one. Owen breaks par with this book.
Shank. Author Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t like golf. He despises it, a point he makes early in his “A Good Walk Spoiled” podcast. “I hate golf,” Gladwell tells listeners. “By the end of this you will hate golf too.”
So much for objectivity.
Before clicking goodbye on golf-hating media, consider how suffering through 35 minutes of a biased podcast can help golf. We’re golf supporters. All of us, theoretically, should believe in the game’s economic, spiritual, physical and societal benefits. To fully promote our business, we must understand how opponents view golf.
Gladwell, who uses Los Angeles private courses as the impetus for his assault, views golf as “crack cocaine for rich, white guys” and suggests it creates “inequality and injustice.” He also takes a shot at golf course maintenance, telling listeners courses are “drenched in pesticides.” Yikes.
How do you counter the negative publicity? Start with numbers. Seventy-five percent of the 15,000-plus golf courses are public facilities. The median green fee was $37 in 2015. Golf contributed $3.9 billion to charitable efforts in 2016. Documenting annual pesticide and resource usage helps defend your course, and industry, against unsubstantiated attacks.
Gladwell has accumulated thousands, if not millions of fans/followers, because of his immense writing talents. Unfortunately, attention inflates egos. Agendas ensue, and we’re left with a podcast that steals its title from a John Feinstein book.
Birdie. I laud officials at Medinah Country Club and The Greenbrier for making members of their respective turf teams prominent parts of recent media events. Director of golf course operations Curtis Tyrrell and architect Rees Jones led a media tour of Medinah’s restored No. 2 course May 24, while The Greenbrier invited director of golf course maintenance Kelly Shumate’s entire team to The Greenbrier Classic Media Day June 5. The work at Medinah is featured on page 14 and the third part of our series about the incredible rebuilding efforts at The Greenbrier runs next month.