Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Project

Hello again.

You know that old saying from way back in the day: “All roads lead to Rome”? I feel like regardless of the various paths I have chosen over the last couple of years, in some way or another, they have all lead me right back to this website. And that is freakin’ awesome.

Boy I’ve missed this. I’ve wanted to write something on this blog for so long, but haven’t really had anything happy or exciting to report. What can I say—the office life sucked. Now, I realize some of you may really enjoy your current office jobs, and from reading over my previous posts and feedback I know some of you may hate me when I say bad things about the corporate world. Unfortunately for me, however, the office job I had perpetuated every negative stereotype I could have ever dreamed of, and will make me forever question my reasons for considering that kind of career. Without exaggeration, that place was pure evil, and I feel damn lucky to have gotten out alive.

But now that’s all over with. I resigned, and didn’t even give it a second thought. When I left the caddying world, it nearly broke my heart. After my experience in that office, there was no way leaving the corporate world would cause me that kind of distress. Leaving a heartless corporation like that was about as emotionally damaging to me as a loud fart. If anything, I felt relieved when it was all over. But enough about that—it’s time to discuss more important things, and update everyone on my plans for the future.

As some of you may know, I’ve been writing monthly articles for Universal Golf. My Editor, Bobby Nicholson, is awesome. He supports every idea I come to him with, and puts out a great product for the readers. It’s always been a dream of mine to write for a golf magazine, and I can’t thank Bobby enough for giving me the opportunity.

In February of this year, I found out about the Golf Writers Association of America. After reviewing what they are all about, I wanted to become a member immediately. But that’s not something you can do right away. You have to put together a portfolio of articles, references from current members, a cover letter, and submit your request to a committee who reviews your work and decides whether or not you should be admitted. My status at Universal Golf meant that I would need to apply for an Associate Membership, and I would need to submit 6 articles along with everything else for consideration.

After I had finished the portfolio, I spent two weeks trying to finish that freakin’ cover letter, running through 9 or 10 drafts in all. It was only a page and a half for cryin’ out loud. But I put everything together, mailed it out, and crossed my fingers.

A lot of things run through your mind while you wait for a decision like that. I would imagine it’s similar to a recent law-school graduate studying his or her ass off, taking the bar exam, and then waiting to see if they’re actually allowed to practice. My application to the GWAA encapsulated about 9 months of late nights and frustration, so of course I was nervous about their decision. It was funny though—I wasn’t nervous for the obvious reasons. I wasn’t nervous just because I really wanted to get in. I was nervous because I was going to be judged by seasoned golf writers. Everyone’s writing style is different, and you guys know how “different” I can be. By their standards, was my writing good enough? Like I said before, it has always been my dream to write about golf—now I was in a position to have my dream validated. Or not.

But while I waited for a decision, I continued working on my book. So I spent some time reviewing more of my old posts. I came across some old feedback I had received and it hit me: I had no reason to be nervous. Not because I was sure I would get into the GWAA, but because of how much support I had received over the years from you, the readers. As soon as this epiphany struck my brain, I had an idea. I couldn’t get it out of my head, and I spent an entire night mapping out a plan for 2010.

Near the end of August, I received an e-mail from Melanie telling me that I had been accepted as a member of the GWAA. I can’t tell you how happy that made me. I figured now that I was in, I might try something…

So I applied for media credentials as a writer for Universal Golf, keeping my new GWAA status as an ace up my sleeve in case I needed additional help, even though Melanie had warned me that GWAA membership does not denote instant approval for press passes. I first applied for credentials at the Tour Championship. That request was promptly denied, as there were “too many other requests.” Basically, that was a nice way of them saying that they’ve never heard of me or Universal Golf, so why should they let me report on the event?

But then I applied for credentials at the Turning Stone Resort Championship, and got an e-mail back a few days later saying that my week-long press pass would be waiting for me when I got there. Holy shit-balls. The event was being held at a course only about an hour from my hometown, a course I had even played before, and I would finally be able to get back home and visit my parents. This would be awesome. Fire up that crack-pipe bitch!

The weather was absolutely horrendous for most of the week—I wouldn’t have been surprised if a few old codgers in the area built their own Arc’s. But despite the rain, wind, and cold, I had a life-changing experience. I sat down at the computer after each day and typed until I passed out. Because of the sheer volume of words I had cranked out after my effort, I outsourced to an editor to check over it and make sure my crack-smoking tendencies hadn’t corrupted the transcription. Once completed, I put it all together in the form of an e-book, ready for download. It’s free, and my hope is that this 50-page account will help jump-start my plan for 2010.

I keep talking about this plan…what exactly do I have in mind?

I want to be on the road next year, sleeping in my car if need be, and follow the PGA Tour. By living out of my car and bringing a brutally honest and sarcastic approach to my experiences throughout the year, I envision being able to bring the readers a perspective of the PGA Tour they won’t be able to find anywhere else. My new ability to score press credentials for many of the events will also allow me to interview players and get inside the ropes (I’ll have to make sure I shower), which will add a nice dimension to my experiences as well. In short, I want to write the kind of articles I would love to read, with all of the humor and pain that a normal golfing experience is known for.

A detailed plan for 2010 and dissertation on "golf writing today" is included on my new website, and you can peruse it here.

I have concluded that my normal writing style and voice is too unpredictable for the mainstream golf media. Now I’m completely fine with this, because it’s just who I am. But that also means that I can’t really expect to get a lot of support from sponsors along the way either, as they will no doubt be afraid of some of the things I might say, and would be reluctant to have their names attached to my work.

So this means that my sole supporters will be my readers—which is actually what I would prefer, because then I would be acting more like your representative at these tour stops rather than a spokesman for sun-block (or whatever else). As you may or may not know, I don’t really like advertisements, and would like to keep them off of the new site as much as possible. So to pay an editor, get gas, eat food, and take an occasional shower, I will need to raise something on a monthly basis to get by. That’s why I felt e-books would be appropriate. That way, you won’t have to read about every tournament if you don’t want to, and each e-book will be as cheap as I can make them—somewhere around $2 apiece.

Reading about my seven-day experience at Turning Stone will give you a good idea of what my writing will look like throughout next year, and I hope you like it.

Overall, I get this strange feeling that my coverage of the PGA Tour will parallel my original experiences as a caddie. This site chronicled my daily experiences lugging bags around, yes, but I believe it also walked you through my evolution as a caddie and as a writer. I sucked as a caddie at first and my writing seemed forced (at least to me), but soon I felt like I got the hang of things and my writing seemed to improve exponentially in the second and third seasons.

Similarly, following the tour in 2010 will inadvertently be taking you through my growth as a golf journalist. Because let’s face it: I’m a newbie. I don’t know the first thing about interviewing players (as you’ll see in my account of Turning Stone) or even what I’m allowed to do with my press pass. In essence, while polished golf writers are waking up in a nice hotel and taking a rental car to their cushy seat in the press room, I’ll probably be waking up to the sound of a police officer tapping on my window because I’ve parked where I wasn’t supposed to. I feel these differences will enrich the experience and my writing, which will be much more enjoyable for everyone. Well, more enjoyable for the readers, anyway.

I also like the idea of e-books because I like to write until I feel I’ve reached the end of my story. It was hard for me to post about my daily caddying experiences in less than 5-7 pages at times, and honestly, I don’t want to feel guilty about writing my heart out.

Finally, my book. Between my old posts, notes on the computer, journal entries, index cards, and voice recordings, it takes me a little over a week at 12+ hours a day to get through everything. Maybe that’s why this is taking so long. At first, I felt that stringing together some of my old posts with commentary would be sufficient for a novel. But after a lot of reflection and a thorough review of my notes, I feel there’s a lot more meaning behind my three seasons as a caddie. In fact, I firmly believe that my current pursuit of a career in golf writing was a direct result of the clash between my caddying memories and my struggles in the office. My battle to keep a “real job” made me question absolutely everything about my life, and the resulting answers are now the backbone of the book.

Granted, I want the majority of the book to be an honest account and tribute to my days as a caddie, but I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t also include some of my experiences from the office, as they helped me to choose my current path. Finding a “calling” was always an epic struggle for me, and I feel constructing a book that will always remind me of how I solved that problem would be of great value to me and to those who read it.

My goal is to have a complete draft ready for an editor before next year, and you guys will be the first to hear when it’s finally done. A part of me just wants to self-publish it in the form of an e-book, but I might go through traditional channels first just to see if someone can push me to improve upon what I’ve already done.

The first two events that I could potentially attend (seeing as how I can’t drive my car to Hawaii) would be the Bob Hope Classic or the San Diego Invitational, both starting in mid-January. The events overlap in next years’ schedule, which is actually great for me because I would guess that my “newbie” status as a golf writer will exclude me from press credentials for the Bob Hope. But who knows.

But aside from all that, I hope everything is well with everyone, and I hope to hear from all of you during next season.