Although I don’t want to admit this, the passage of time has made the media room at the RBC Canadian Open a much different place than what I’ve been used to over the years when names such as Rick Fraser, Jim Hunt, Dave Perkins and other notorious names growled and spun their tales.
It wasn’t exclusively the Toronto media among this rogues gallery as media from all over Canada would move in temporarily to reduce the value of surrounding real estate for at least a week.
Sadly, for those of us who appreciate the premier purveyors of nouns and verbs, some of our favourites have moved on to the next realm.
Travel budgets aren’t what they used to be, so fewer out-of-town media now attend. Buyouts and retirements have lessened the numbers of those who began their careers on typewriters instead of laptops, the folks who thought social media was a night in the bar with their cronies.
We were concerned when Perkins had a heart attack a few weeks back, but elated to hear that he was backing Perking after being repaired with some stents and looking forward to getting back on the golf course to sandbag anybody who will give him a few extra strokes next year.
Garry McKay, who was the golf guy at the Hamilton Spectator for years, had his own dealings with surgeons and hospitals last year as this story point out, but he’s doing well now. This good news announced Friday makes his recovery that much sweeter.
McKay is the winner of the Lorne Rubenstein Award for his media contributions, an award he’ll receive when four more people, who you can read about here, are inducted into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame in May.
Any recognition that is bestowed upon McKay with his full-time career at the Spec over, even though he continues to cover golf, is one that is well-deserved. His was a career well-played and continues to be just that.
McKay fit right in to the Canadian Open, but he wasn’t all about the PGA Tour, or LPGA Tour or the high profile events that command the attention of golf fans across Canada and the world, for that matter.
He was just as likely to be covering a PGA of Canada or PGA of Ontario event, a Golf Canada or Golf Association of Ontario tournament, or any other type of event likely to be going on in the Golden Horseshoe area of Ontario.
As likeable as McKay is, it’s not that or his sense of humour that define him, although those qualities certainly stand out. There is one thing that defines McKay and always will.
His heart is in the Hammer.
As much as McKay did stories for national magazines and served as president of the Golf Journalists Association of Canada, his focus will always be the Hamilton area.
That’s what makes him a throwback, but it’s a throwback in need of a revival. McKay was the quintessential regional golf reporter and actually, he covered more than golf, so he was the local sportswriter, and he did it well.
And thankfully, golf is recognizing these types.
Besides McKay winning the Rubenstein award, Brad Ziemer, who does such a fine job for the Vancouver Sun, received the 2013 Distinguished Service Award from Golf Canada and the late Norm Woods of GolfScene was named the 2014 winner.
There are people outside of their coverage areas who won’t recognize the names above, but that’s because of the local nature of their jobs. Their focus on the grassroots of golf have made them essential to coverage of the game.
As time passes, here’s hoping that media outlets get the message that there’s more to golf than the pro tours, that it goes much deeper. Media may be evolving, but there’s something to be said for old school ideals.
Hamilton has every right to celebrate the TiCats’ appearance in Sunday’s Grey Cup, but it would be just if the Hammer gives a nod to a guy such as McKay, who cared so much about its athletes for over 40 years and counting.