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Myriad Stories

By: Jeff Shelley


The story you're reading is the 10,000th I've put up on Cybergolf since coming to work here in the year 2000. I know this total is accurate because our database-driven admin system assigns each article a number when I place it online.

Databases don't lie.

That's right, 10K. Thanks to a crackerjack team of freelancers, I didn't write them all, but am responsible for probably three-quarters of them. When people say I'm full of it, I have no grounds to disagree.

Wikipedia lists such synonyms for 10,000 as: myriad - mu in Greek - which is often used to mean an indefinite, very large number. U.S. states are enthralled with 10,000 and have used that regal amount for tourist purposes:

• Minnesota calls itself the "Land of 10,000 Lakes."

• The "Land of 10,000 Trails" was created in 1999 by the Tennessee/Kentucky Lakes Area Coalition, a group that seeks to increase tourism to their states by developing trails throughout the region.

• Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge is located in the lower end of the Fakahatchee and Picayune Strands of Big Cypress Swamp and west of Everglades National Park in Florida.

• And the "Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes" within Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska is filled with ash flow from the eruption of the Novarupta volcano on June 6-8, 1912. Upon seeing the valley, Robert F. Griggs, who explored the area for the National Geographic Society in 1916, gave the valley its name, saying that "the whole valley as far as the eye could reach was full of hundreds, no thousands - literally, tens of thousands - of smokes curling up from its fissured floor."

That last phrase pretty much describes the way those thousands of stories have somehow emanated from my brain, through my fingertips and onto Cybergolf.

Putting up so many stories has led to the occasional error, usually in the form of a hurried headline. (Try writing 10,000 attention-grabbing leads sometime; in one's haste to get a timely story up there's no way to be totally original with each and every one of them and not make some gaffes along the way.)

The most egregious editorial slip - and one that gained notoriety on Fark.com - came in 2007 after Ernie Els triple-bogeyed the par-5 final hole to lose the Alfred Dunhill Championship in his home country of South Africa.

The headline I hastily wrote and uploaded - but didn't double-check or bother to read after it had taken up residence for five hours on our home page? "Els Blows Alfred Dunhill." Sheesh.

But that's the beast and the beauty of the Internet: once a story is up, it's up - but, unlike print media, you can change it later.

To create variety out those 10,000 stories I've posted pretty much everything - often in my Jeff's Journal section but elsewhere as well - that are often only related tangentially to golf. Though mainstream subjects provide the bulk of our stories, I've always kept on eye on subjects that stray from the usual PGA Tour Results-Tiger Scandal-Michelle Wie-Masters Magic entries clogging golf's cyberspace.

Sure, over the past decade I've attended and covered the U.S. Open, Senior U.S. Open, PGA Championship, both men's and women's U.S. Amateurs, and other top-level professional and amateur tournaments. I've also done tons of daily news items, most of the time without a byline. Through three major redesigns of our website, with a fourth on the way, there are also many different categories of golf stories that we've tried to flesh out (see the links below our masthead) to illustrate the breadth of the game.

But I've also had a lot of fun with offbeat golf-related stuff, ones that included "exposés" about a new sport called Golfcross and coverage of a tournament in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Created by some outside-the-box thinkers in New Zealand, Golfcross involves smacking with golf clubs a tiny football-shaped ball through movable goalposts (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/golfcross_a_new_way_to_play_the_game). That was a tale that had to be told and, after long-distance back-and-forth emails with the founders, I ended up really taking a shine to the guys who play it. A couple of us even tried Golfcross on our home course (side note: it's damned hard to control that weird "ball" with a golf club).

The Kabul story (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/a_golf_tournament_in_kabul) was written by a family friend, Amy Woodruff who, while working with the PARSA Community Foundation in Afghanistan, decided to hold a golf tournament to raise funds for the organization. This was truly a gallant effort that needed some airplay.

I've tried to analyze the relationship between golf and farming (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/are_golf_farming_no_longer_compatible); how slow play on golf courses is analogous to the left-lane campers that clog our freeways (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/autoannoyance_on_the_golf_course); and, in probably one the most emotional editorial moments of my 25-plus years as a golf writer, a story about my late war-hero father (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/ode_to_a_war_hero).

I've also covered such subjects as Christmas, mentioning golf just once in http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/december_10_2003_christmas_time_in_the_city, and, to the consternation of my fellow club members, a bit more often in another Yuletide article (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/christmas_at_the_club).  

While on the subject of holiday content, I once ran an April Fools Day piece (http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/fuzzy_zellerstein_to_design_new_course_in_colorado) entitled "Fuzzy Zellerstein to Design New Course in Colorado" which originated in Park City, Utah, and is still a hoot.

One of my prouder moments at Cybergolf came when I did a three-part series on a long-lost friend, Charlie Schaubel, one of the folks who encouraged me early in my career back in the mid-'80s. Based in Seattle - our company's home base - for about a decade, Charlie was an itinerant golf pro whose story begged to be told. And I was able to do that after a long search that found him giving golf lessons on the other side of America in Atlanta.

That series can be found at: Part 1 - http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/meeting_charlie_schaubel; Part 2 - http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/observations_of_a_tin_cup_pro_part_2_the_new_orleans_connection; and Part 3 - http://www.cybergolf.com/golf_news/observations_of_a_tin_cup_pro_part_3_seattle_another_wife_other.

While I've been filling up the Internet with all these words, the guy - CEO Dan Murnan - who made me the company's second hire (the first didn't last long) has brilliantly guided us into a profitable enterprise. As Dan has led Cybergolf to become the nation's largest provider of online services for the golf industry, I've been able to natter on 10,000 different times to feed this voracious not-so-new-anymore media with home page-filling "content."

Dan's the best boss I've ever had - by far. How often does your employer urge you to play more golf? Best of all, he trusts my judgment (mistitling the collapse by "The Big Easy" notwithstanding) and is a true rarity in this age of meddlesome micromanagers.

Upon reflection, I think putting up 10,000 stories on Cybergolf fits my "collecting" nature. I'm a music buff with 2,500 well-kept record albums and about half that number of CDs along with hundreds of cassette tapes. Thanks to my position as the editor of a large and now well-established golf website I receive about two or three books a month, so I've become a golf book aficionado with around 500 titles.

My status as a packrat has also led to one bay of our three-car garage being chock-full of thousands of unsold, palletized golf books that I've written and published. I won't even mention the dozens of boxes of "Golf 'n Life" greeting cards rotting in our crawl space that never found a market.

We plan on getting a dumpster later this spring to clear out the garage, and I'm still fretting over how many to keep of those books with my name on them - and that I paid to publish - just in case some might be sold. And one of these days I'd like to hire a carpenter to build some strong shelves to remove all the golf books from the desktops in my home office.

As for the 10,000 stories that have been loaded onto Cybergolf, there's nothing I can do about them. They'll probably still be floating in the ether long after I've reached the 20,000-story mark.

So to all our readers, thanks for bearing with me over the last 11-plus years.

Jeff Shelley has been writing about golf since 1986. Since 2000, he has been the editorial director of www.cybergolf.com. Cybergolf has grown into the largest provider of Internet services for the U.S. golf industry, with over 1,200 golf courses, several amateur state golf and superintendents' associations, the Executive Women's Golf Association (www.ewga.com) and the TPC Network (www.tpc.com) as clients.

Jeff has authored and/or published eight books. He wrote and published three editions of the book, "Golf Courses of the Pacific Northwest," with the 640-page third edition containing 550 golf courses that he personally visited and/or played. He also wrote and published "The Northwest Golfer's Almanac," and co-authored and helped publish the history book, "Championships & Friendships: The First 100 Years of the Pacific Northwest Golf Association." Other titles he published include two editions of "The Immigration Handbook." The latest book Jeff edited and published through his firm, Fairgreens Publishing, "Tideflats to Tomorrow: The History of Seattle's SoDo," was released in January 2010.

Jeff was the golf writer for Alaska and Horizon in-flight magazines for 12 years, and has been a regular contributor to the PNGA's "Pacific Northwest Golfer" magazine along with freelance work for dozens of other golf publications, including "Texas Golfer" and "Chicago Golf."

Jeff is the co-founder and first president of the Northwest Golf Media Association, and currently serves as its treasurer. He served as the media director of the Fred Couples Invitational in the 1990s and was the managing editor of three golf magazines. He is an honorary member of the Western Washington and Northwest Turfgrass associations, and a long-time regular member of the Golf Writers Association of America.

Jeff lives in Seattle with his wife Anni, two cats - Waldo and Hugo, and a Newfoundland mix named Stella. His daughter Erica, her husband Mike and their 2-year-old son Elliot, live nearby.