According to many in the golf industry, golf is in dire straights because of negative stories in the media.
This is not new, but it is news.
Increased media attention is part of modern life with all of the outlets these days.
The writers, interviewers, bloggers, TV and storytellers have one job and one job only and that is to report the news. It should be unbiased, properly researched and well documented.
Occasionally, a good story gets told through the writer’s opinion but in those cases, the opinion should be supported by fact and/or personal experience. Regardless, it is still only one person’s opinion.
Problems arise when a writer publishes a story with little or no regard to both sides of the story.
Most definitely, a subject can be discussed from one viewpoint over another, but supporting documentation of one’s point of view helps convey the writer’s case.
Secondly, a writer should try to present his/her topic without making personal attacks as they only weaken the argument.
During my life as a PGA of Canada member, I had some interaction with the media. In the 1960s, the major newspapers in Toronto reported the employment changes of head professionals and assistant professionals in early spring editions.
They reported the results of PGA of Canada tournaments, Ontario PGA events and the business activities of both organizations.
In fact, George Clifton had a weekly series of golf tips that appeared every Saturday in the Toronto Star. Jack Marks, Rick Fraser, Bill Stevenson and Ken McKee regularly attended our functions looking for material.
We (the golf professionals) considered them to be our friends.
Over time, the GTA grew and the newspapers became reporters of national news and local stories no longer interested the readers, but the media is still full of knowledgeable golf writers such as Ian Hutchinson, John Gordon, Bob McCown, Bob Weeks and Lorne Rubenstein.
Rarely, if ever, do you read an article written by one of these people that is unfair to the golf industry. Negative articles tend to come from writers looking for sensationalism or sent by an editor who is trying to sell copies.
Our (golfers’) reaction endorses this theory. Look at the ripple effect throughout the golf business caused by this story written by Chris Sorensen in Maclean’s magazine.
A person not known to have a background in reporting golf material made several statements disagreeable to certain golf industry people, inciting a barrage of discussion.
Most are concerned about the negative impact of the story. What negative impact?
Golfers have been condemned for years as idiots chasing a little white ball around a field without serious affect. Non-golfers will criticize golf courses for pouring unregulated amounts of chemicals into rivers and streams, not knowing the opposite is true.
Governments think course owners are so flush with cash that they continue to attack an industry that pours billions of dollars into the economy. Is one pessimistic article worth all the attention it received?
Phineas T. Barnum said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.”
Arnold Palmer is quoted as saying “I felt the media was my friend.”
Bert Turcotte (Toronto’s own Donald Trump sans the bravado) actually created events that were so far-fetched that the media wrote about them because they were news.
Each of these men became incredibly successful– without paying for advertising/promotion because they skillfully managed the media to do it for them.
The media isn’t the enemy of golf, but our reaction to negative writing can be detrimental.
Our own sensitivity to the state of the game gives us cause to keep questioning our programs, our efforts, our innovations and our investment. When Pythagoras, an ancient Greek first stated that the earth was round, do you think he worried about what others thought?
Golf is a great game going through some minor challenges.
It doesn’t need a complete overhaul, nor does it need to cower in the face of a bit of sensational writing.
What it does need is to maintain a positive direction by publishing articles in non-golf related media even if we have to pay for the space, informing non-golfers of the virtues brought to society by the golf industry and the benefits/enjoyment of playing the game.
An uninformed, negative article was written in a vehicle read by non-golfers who already have preconceived ideas about a game they consider silly.
We don’t need to cry about it – we need to stand tall and move on.