Golf, Journalism

I could get used to this

Over the past couple of weeks I have partaken in some of the best opportunities that the Herald Times has to offer. In the past, I have been able to sit press row at a Detroit Pistons game, take my opinion to the airwaves and cover more exciting games than I can count, but I have to say that my workload — if you can call it that — has been at its best lately.

Two weeks back my editor was invited to attend a media day at Garland Resort in Lewiston. Naturally, with the time commitment it takes to print a newspaper, he was unable to attend but threw the invite my way nonetheless.

I was all over it.

A media day is to a young journalist as candy is to a kindergarten class. The opportunity to meet established professionals in my intended field was too much to pass up. Sure enough, after a response from Garland’s management, I found myself making the near 40 minute trip to the 3,000-plus acre resort in Lewiston.

To be honest, I was pretty nervous on the drive out. It’s not often that an 18-year old journalist gets to link up and network with some of the profession’s best.

Oh yeah, we were playing 36 holes on some of the area’s most demanding terrain too.

They say practice makes perfect. However, if it only made respectable I would be more than happy. I’ll get to that aspect of things later. Don’t get me wrong, I was content with my 89 on Swampfire to start things off, but my slice reappeared later in the afternoon on Fountains, setting me up with a less-than-impressive 97.

In between the rounds I really got a feel for what the event was all about. Having lunch with some of the writers and managers of the property kicked in several great story ideas, two of which I plan on following through with before I leave for college on the first of the month.

The longer I hung around the group of guys and gals, the more I began to learn. People were more than willing to reach out to me. Whether it was due to me looking hideously out-of-place or not, the treatment I received from everyone was nothing less than top-notch. Pondering this further, the service for everyone was top-notch. The resort truly pulled out its best to accommodate the dozen or so media members.

This got me to thinking: I could get used to this.

At every major media event I have attended, yes the number is small (four to be exact), I have been catered to like none other. It works for both parties — treated nicely, journalists write nice stories. In turn, both sides walk away totally satisfied, as I was following my experience at Garland.

The following Monday, I had a similar invitation from the Jason Guss Academy at Otsego Club. Within the media’s itinerary was a free lunch (apparently the media day standard), a three-hour lesson and a round of golf on Otsego Club’s crown jewel, the Tribute.

To my surprise, only a handful of media members made the trip, one of which I had already befriended the previous week. That didn’t bother me — I figured that it gave me more time with one of Golf Digest’s Top Teachers Under 40, Jason Guss.

After warming up and shooting some quick video of our golf swings, I prepared to swallow my pride — the video analysis portion of the lesson was on its way. Surprisingly, my swing was very correctable — the only major flaw being the verticality of my backswing.

Easy thing to fix, right?

This is where the practice comes in. Jason had me turned inside out, swinging in the most unnatural way I could think of. The majority of my seven irons were trickling out to about the first practice pin on the driving range.

We won’t even talk about the round of golf. I had to revert back to my old swing after the trail of triple-bogeys on the first four holes got on my nerves.

In my last media event of the exciting two-week stretch, I set out to sit down exclusively with the world’s top golf instructor, Butch Harmon. This probably took the cake as the number one, for lack of a better word,
coolest opportunity of the summer — even though it didn’t include any free golf. It’s not often that the number one anything  comes to Gaylord, let alone a personality I am interested in.

Butch was great to sit down with, plain and simple. He answered all of my locally based questions and seemed genuinely interested in where I came from and what I was doing. He was more than happy to entertain my personal questions on his past and some of the players he has worked with, as well. He probably does two or three of those interviews a week due to his extensive travel and popularity, but hey, it comes with the territory.

The number one thing I learned when it was all said and done is that people genuinely appreciate a journalist’s service. The stories I write deliver their product to an interested clientele, those who read the sports section of a local paper. Moving forward in this profession, I am going to keep this in mind. It never hurts to go the extra mile, make some contacts and produce a great story when it’s all said and done.

The past two weeks were the highlights of my summer. The good news: I have a full life ahead of me. If I do it right, it can look a lot like those past two weeks.

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My name is Jim Ryan, and I'm a breaking news reporter for The Oregonian and OregonLive in Portland. I'm an Ohio University graduate from Gaylord, Michigan.

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