The blur of time has erased the location.
All I recall is that it was on a driving range in Florida, if memory serves correctly. when a pleasant chat with one of golf’s great gentlemen began about 12 or 13 years ago, while going about my duties of writing a golf column for Sun Media.
That may sound a little vague, but the topics of discussion are still crystal clear and how it ended is what stands out for purposes of this contribution.
“Hey, Ian,” said two-time Masters champ Ben Crenshaw as he shook my hand. “Would you say hello to Lorne for me?”
This wasn’t a case of an American automatically assuming a Canadian knew another because of shared nationality. About everybody in golf knows Lorne Rubenstein, who announced the other day he’s retiring after 32 years as golf writer/columnist for the Globe & Mail.
Rubenstein will cover the RBC Canadian Open later this month before calling it a career as the regular Globe & Mail correspondent and like Crenshaw, he is a distinguished gentleman who makes it easy to call him a friend and colleague, as opposed to a competitor.
Case in point was when in the pages of the Sun back in 2007, I wrote a piece applauding Rubenstein’s induction into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame, even if he did write for a competing newspaper.
I received an e-mail from Rubenstein, who had been inducted into the Ontario hall a year earlier, the day that column appeared declaring that I was now his Mom’s favourite writer. I laughed, but found that hard to believe due to bloodlines and Rubenstein’s impact on the game.
For the last reason, Rubenstein became one of the most golf’s most recognizable names, certainly in this country but also outside Canadian borders.
You wouldn’t know it by the way he conducted himself in a profession in which a growing trend is columnists/bloggers writing about themselves or news being passed along in short bursts on Twitter.
Rubenstein was focused n the golfer on the other side of his notepad and he sought them out, either by phone or on the driving range, more concerned with being unique and analytical by getting a fresh perspective over the comments spread to the masses through press conferences.
I recently called Rubenstein a “knucklehead” in a headline on this website, but it wasn’t meant as disrespect. Quite the opposite actually. Knucklehead was a term used by the late Moe Norman for people he liked and trusted.
In Rubenstein’s most recent book, Moe & Me, Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius, Rubenstein offers a fascinating look at the legendary Canadian ball-striker, one that could only be pulled off through years of association.
Through his columns and books, Rubenstein offered a unique perspective, but he said recently that he noticed at the recent U.S. Open that he couldn’t get engaged with the pro game anymore.
Rubenstein just turned 64 and there’s a new wave of younger players flooding the tours. The game has changed in that it’s more difficult now to get to the players one on one than it was at one time. That’s what Rubenstein lived for as he went about his daily duties.
How much those factors, plus the fact that the Globe & Mail was using his work less frequently, played in his decision can only be answered by Rubenstein, who I don’t expect will disappear, just reinvent himself through magazines, books and the occasional newspaper column/feature.
It may be naive to say this in today’s economic climate and with the apparent direction in which newspapers in general are headed, but they may one day realize that the old school values of Rubenstein are timeless. Such values are what set newspapers apart from the growing number of media alternatives.
Respect Rubenstein’s decision to wind it down, but hope he remains a regular contributor, as I expect he will, to offer an old school clinic in a rapidly-changing world that needs it.