Woes of Prose

By: Bob Spiwak


Cybergolf may be the wrong venue for what I am about to write, but I 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 crucial putts and tumble off the leaderboard.

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 who's been Cybergolf's editor for the past 11 years. I wrote various stuff for that mag, even after Jeff went off to write 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 '80s, I think. When Golf Course News began publishing its newspaper-format journal aimed at superintendents, developers and others involved in the courses - and not 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, turfgrasses and so forth. Since this involved manufacturers or distributors, my interviews were a lot of times with salesmen, which resulted in less info and more sales pitch. I also wasted many hours waiting for calls to be returned.

I was put on a verbal contract with GCN, given the title of contributing editor and produced copy for around 12 years. Mark Leslie was the editor and is 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 publication 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 Golf Course in Spokane. This was to me the big time, the slickest of slick and tasteful, Golf Journal was the official, quarterly magazine of USGA. It was also on top of the pile in remuneration 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 brief 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, the device might return now that this country is getting "greener" by the week.

I was also doing some travel writing for Golfweek. In this case, 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, Charlie Stine. When it was sold, as is customary in publishing, there was a housecleaning of personnel from editor on down. It is now a slick magazine and, while I and others are gone, there are some holdovers from the old days.

There have been local magazines in the Northwest, in the South and in Phoenix that also have contained my words and ultimately gone under. Phoenix is particularly memorable because they were late payers anyhow, and still owe me money. That being years ago, I might today be able to buy two sleeves of Pro-V1s with my delayed earnings.

There were a number of publications 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, I miss the Olivetti clacker I wrote on in those pre-computer days. Yet it is such a pleasure to do what I am now doing, hoping that my old-new editor will approve this for publicationl. I can only hope and pray it won't sink the Cybergolf ship.

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultra-private Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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