Blog 98, 2/14/11 - Guest Blogger Paul Trow, Lake Padden WGT Results, Seattle Golf Show

Trow edits 'Kingdom' Magazine.
For those uninformed, armchair observers of the great game of golf, it may seem as though the life of a golf writer is one of privilege and hedonism. Yes, we get to go where we like and meet who we can, all on expenses, but make no mistake we all suffer for our 'art.'
Take the last few weeks in my case. As senior editor of Kingdom magazine, an upmarket golf and lifestyle publication which my employers publish on behalf of Arnold Palmer three times a year, I am expected to pack my bags and hare across continents and time-zones, often at very little notice. This time, my assignment plucked me from the ravages of midwinter in London, England, and catapulted me into the balmy warmth of La Quinta in the Californian desert for the Bob Hope Classic.My primary role was to interview the King in his holiday home at the Tradition community for the Q&A we run each issue with him. Accompanied by renowned photographer Brian Morgan, a Glasgow lad now very much one of the locals in the Palm Springs area, we met at 8.30am and had a good hour chewing the fat with Mr. Palmer, who is 81 years young. A keen student of the game to this day, what he doesn't know about golf probably isn't worth knowing.

But there were additional purposes for making such a long journey so far from home, and one of them was to interview Matt Kuchar, who had quite a year in 2010. Not only did he make his Ryder Cup debut in Wales, but this charming Floridian won the Vardon Trophy for the lowest stroke average throughout the season and finished No.1 on the PGA Tour money list, for which he was rewarded with... the Arnold Palmer Trophy! Despite his placid temperament, there is an excited little boy inside Kuchar bursting to get out. He has had a long journey to the pinnacle of the game with a lot of false starts, and he still has to pinch himself that he has achieved what he has. In my book, no one in the game is more consistent and certainly no one has claimed more top-10 finishes over the last couple of years. Expect Kuchar to go close in at least one major this year! You read it here first.

The star turn of the week, though, was a man whose parents apparently aren't very good at spelling - Jhonattan Vegas. He was a new name to me, a new kid on the block, but what a player - very long, very straight and blessed with the short game of an angel. Bob Hope will not be his only victory of 2011, mark my words! More importantly in the long term, though, is the effect his win will have back home where Venezuela's Marxist president Hugo Chavez has apparently declared war on golf because the courses in and around Bogota occupy prime building land while the slums are confined to landfills and flood planes. In a neat vault-face, so typical of politicians everywhere, President Chavez texted Vegas along the lines of: "Way to go buddy, you beat the gringos."

Joe Steranka
I also had to conduct an interview over my cellphone that I was originally hoping to leave until  the following week at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. But Joe Steranka, the CEO of the PGA of America, felt he would be too busy scuttling from appointment to appointment throughout the three days at the Orange County Convention Center to give me a straight, one-on-one half-hour, so we spoke over the phone instead. The interview is part of a series of profiles we're running on the game's leading administrators - in our last issue (Kingdom 18) we carried a piece with Peter Dawson, chief executive of the R&A.

Then it was time to pack my bags and head to Florida - the sunshine state where it's been anything but sunny of late. In fact, the weather's been so cold there this winter that some of the natives have even been forced to don short-sleeved sweaters before leaving the house. More serious are dire threats from the farming community that the 2011 orange crop could well be a disaster. They already charge extra for a glass of orange juice at breakfast at the (lack of) Quality Inn where I usually stay when visiting Mouseville, so I'm expecting to be levied by the mouthful this time.

Strangely, jetlag started to kick in and I found I only had time for breakfast on one out of the four mornings I was there. Jetlag, you ask? Yes, it's only three hours' difference from California to Florida, but I went from waking up every morning at 3-4am western time to sleeping through my 7.30am alarm eastern time. Still, you certainly need your sleep if you're going to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk, at the show. Nearly a mile from one end to the other and with more than 40,000 visitors and 1,000 exhibitors in between, this is the ultimate kiddies' store - no wonder the aforementioned Kuchar was there bright and early on day one. Actually, he used to go to the show as a kid, so he knew what to expect.

The sad thing about the show, always, is you meet so many lovely people who have displayed real ingenuity to devise a unique golf product, one that manifestly would enhance the game, and yet you know they will get absolutely nowhere with the project. In some cases, they have sunk their life savings into hiring a stand in the belief that the world will then fall at their feet, as if by magic. When the harsh realization kicks in that they need twice the amount they've spent on the stand to cover marketing, manufacturing and deliveries before they can even earn a cent, it's too late - the cupboard is bare.

Anyway, enough of sentimentality. It's a 'dog eat dog' world out there, and my main task was to visit the booths of dozens of companies that either advertise with us, or might do so in the future. Along the way I caught up with Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Annika Sorenstam and Graeme McDowell, not to mention the Ryder Cup trophy which was on display at a PGA of America press conference to unveil a new logo for the biennial matches. I always feel that if you see the trophy in public the chances are it's a replica - after all, the insurers, surely, would insist on it being kept under lock and key at all times. Undeterred, I had my picture taken with it, just in case I was wrong!

Joe Steranka went up even further in my estimation when he told the assembled hacks that the company he'd hired to design the new logo was 'not exactly inexpensive.' The company's CEO, sitting next to him at the time, took an extra gulp of air-conditioned oxygen at this revelation. The European end of the Ryder Cup partnership was well represented with Sandy Jones (PGA), Ian Randell (PGAs of Europe) and Richard Hills (European Tour) all in tow, so it was home-from-home reunions all round. However, Richard did tell me one interesting thing. Apparently, the identity of the country and course where the 2018 matches will be played is to be announced on May 17 - in just over three months’ time - not on some nebulous date in 2012 as we'd originally been led to believe.

And so to the room occupied for the week by the International Network of Golf, conveniently positioned next door to the media center. I'd commend ING to anyone who works in the golf trade, not least because it's in the very good hands of Executive Director Mike Jamison, with whom I shared an anxious half-hour about 10 years ago sheltering under a tree in a thunderstorm on the St. Pierre course in south Wales (yes, Wales, where it never rains!). On that occasion, he was calm, I was calm, and we got along famously. And when we got back to the clubhouse it was trebles all round to celebrate our heroic survival.

The Sunday morning hangover was just round the corner and it was off to the airport to catch the overnight flight back to London. But first a couple of pints of Samuel Adams' latest amber nectar in the Outback Steakhouse to calm the nerves before the flight - and to meet for the first time most of my friends from Britain who I hadn't bumped into once during the show.

Now a week later, I'm still jetlagged. I'm writing this in the middle of the night and I'll be dead to the world at breakfast. So don't tell me we golf writers don't suffer for our art. The only question is, is it really art?

trowPaul Trow is one of the best British golf journalists I've had the pleasure of working with. In recent years, he's divided his time between writing and organizing writers while serving as Editor on various special events titles ('Open Championship', 'Ryder Cup') and the highly acclaimed 'Kingdom' Magazine which is available at Arnold Palmer-designed courses, and hotels attached to them.
Trow started his career at a small newspaper in North London before joining a specialist national daily, the 'Morning Advertiser', in 1978. He joined the Extel newswire in 1979 and rose to become sports editor before Extel was taken over by the Press Association, in 1991. An 18-month spell as a sub-editor on the 'Independent', was followed by stints as editor of Golf Weekly, and editorial director of the Hayters news agency. Paul was chairman of the Sports Journalists' Association of Great Britain from 1999-2003 and captain of the (British) Press Golf Society in 1991.

Another good friend, Jim Frank, the former editor of GOLF Magazine, alerted me to a pretty special sweepstakes competition going on right now at You can win a three-night stay for four people in a luxury villa at the Grand Cypress Golf Resort in Orlando, FL., three rounds of golf on the resort's Jack Nicklaus-designed course, plus a group lesson with the Academy of Golf Director Fred Griffin. All you have to do is leave a comment at the foot of the article - something like "Er, nice prize," is all you need.

Good traffic.
Did anyone make it down to the Seattle Golf and Travel Show at Qwest Field? Show-owners John Tipping and Owen Hoskinson put on another very enjoyable, not to say useful, exposition dubbed the 'unofficial start of the golf season in the Pacific Northwest'. With over 20 hitting bays and 200 vendors, many of which were individual golf courses, luxury resorts, or regional destinations (hence the name-change - it used to be just 'Seattle Golf Show'), it is the largest consumer golf show on the west coast. Once again, the $12 admission ticket entitled the attendee to a free round at one of four Washington courses - Classic, Port Ludlow, Eaglemont, or Highlander in Wenatchee - a free subscription to  'Golf Digest' for one year. I was there on Friday and impressed by the general level of noise in the Qwest Field Events Center, though much of it seemed to be coming from the 710 ESPN Seattle booth where Kevin Calabro and Jim Moore were yakking it up. The official numbers aren't out yet and I wasn't there at the weekend, but if Friday's buzz is anything to go by I'd say this was another very successful show.

Congratulations to Ben Mummy and Scott McBeath who won 1st Place Gross at the weekend's 2-Person Horse Race Scramble/Best Ball at Lake Padden with a 77. Scott Larsen and Brian Jones took the net prize with a 65. The next event on the Winter Golf Tour is the One-Person Scramble (you get an extra shot, every shot) this coming weekend (Saturday 19th). Entry fee is $20 plus green fee, and there's a shotgun at 9am. The WGT points list will be updated later this week.

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