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Woes of Prose

The Grist may be the wrong venue for what I am about to write, and I don’t think it has been around long enough to survive this tale. On the other hand, I must confess to an element of guilt, much like the “Announcers’ Jinx,” whereby they rave about a player’s prowess through a tournament only to have him or her miss some crucial putts and blow the tournament.

What this has to do with, to be short, is the effect my writing for various publications has had on their futures, or in some cases their employees. We could begin with Back Nine magazine, whose editor was the same Jeff Shelley as is now a magnate in the Cybergolf enterprise. I wrote various stuff for the mag, and after Jeff went on to write a few books and otherwise enlighten and educate northwest golfers. But one day the publisher told me the magazine was done for and so was I as one of its writers.

I was a stringer for several other golf magazines, this being in the 80’s, I think. When Golf Course News began publishing its newspaper-format journal aimed at superintendants, developers and others involved in the courses their own selves and nought about competition or the game, I applied for a job as a stringer. It was a hard job because I wrote technical stuff about misting systems, netting for ranges, turf grasses and so forth. This involved the manufacturers or distributors and my interviews were a lot of times with salesmen, which resulted in less info and more sales pitch. Also, hours wasted, waiting for calls to be returned.

I was put on a verbal contract with Golf Course News, given the title of Contributing Editor and produced copy for around 12 years. Mark Leslie was the editor and a prince - no- a King of a man. But one day he said the mag had been sold, and presto, he, I and others were toast. Not too long after, the mag folded.

In the midst of this tenure, I got the nod from the USGA to photograph portions of the Womens’ Public Links Tournament at Indian Canyon G.C. in Spokane. This was to me the big time, the slickest of slick and tasteful, Golf Journal was the official magazine of USGA, coming out quarterly. It was also on top of the pile in remuneration (a buck a word) for photos and text.

I did my job but a few years later the magazine ceased publication. My final offering to it had been a squib about two guys from Everett, Wash. who built a golf cart that you pedaled. It was made of two bicycles welded together with a seat between and a bag carrier on the back. Who knows, it might return now that we are getting “green” er by the week in this country.

I was also doing some travel writing for Golfweek. The magazine has survived well. When I was working for it, it too had a newspaper format, came out weekly with supplements periodically, and was owned by a wonderful guy. When it sold after years of my delicate prose, I and half the staffers were the victims of my self-created jinx.

There have been local magazines here, and in the south, and in Arizona that too have contained my words and ultimately gone under. Phoenix is particularly memorable because Sun Golf were late payers and still owe me money. That being years ago, I might today be able to buy two sleeves of golf balls if they ever pay up. It’s only been about eight years.

There were a number of publictions for which I had one-write stands and, far as I know, they are all gone. The magazine in Tokyo is probably still in existence, considering the Japanese penchant for excellence and longevity.

Having said all the above, although I miss the Olivetti clacker I wrote on in those pre-computer days, it is such a pleasure to do what I am now doing, hope that my editor will approve this for publication, and I can only hope and pray I won’t sink the Ship of Grist.


Note: Methow Valley resident Bob Spiwak not only writes for golfing publications. He has written for the Methow Valley News for a very long time, and he put together the (in)famously humorous Goat Wall Street Journal in 1995.