Cybergolf Contributor Discusses 10th Anniversary as Golf Writer
Jay Flemma has been a contributor to Cybergolf since 2006. I threw him right into the fire that year by making Jay's initial assignment the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
During his eight-year stint at Cybergolf, Jay has won four Golf Writers Association of America awards, joining our own Marino Parascenzo and Tony Dear in earning national recognition among his peers. Jay is a commentator on GNN Radio and currently has several other irons in the fire.
He's celebrated his 10th anniversary as a golf writer this week. The New York City-based attorney posted his first story on his blog, "A Walk in the Park," on November 19, 2004.
Here's my Q&A with Jay. As you'll see he's one of golf's most pugnacious and incisive writers working today.
1. What made you want to become a golf writer?
It was more dumb luck than anything. I never planned this or even dreamed about it; it just happened organically. I was tired of paying $200 for overrated, uninteresting courses, and I was especially tired of six-and-a-half-hour rounds on crappy NYC munis.
Well, one day in late 2004 as I'm waiting to hit to the green at the eighth hole at Forest Park this kid runs onto the green, grabs the flagstick, and starts dancing around like a majorette. We all yell at him to get off the green, which he does . . . by jumping over the fence, hopping into a waiting van, and taking off down the road with the flag. I said, "That's it! I'm going to write a book about where to play and where not to play!"
So, shortly thereafter, I tell that story to a client of mine - these five funny but socially awkward kids from an Ivy League school that formed a comedy troupe. The obnoxiously haughty and judgmental one says to me, "Oh, so you think you can write?"
That pissed me off. I've always been a writer. I wrote long essays even in grammar school, and when you go to Deerfield Academy and Trinity College in Connecticut you write every single weekend. I've lived by Strunk & White's style guide since I was 13.
"Yes,'" I snarled laconically. "I certainly can." I also thought to myself, "I'll be damned if Hippie Hipster here is gonna look down his nose at me when it comes to writing."
"Well why don't you start a blog then?" he asked.
That stopped me in my tracks. "That's a great idea!" I thought: Free website, practice writing and I get to meet people.
So I did start a blog, and four months later I got hired by two different well-established magazines and was credentialed to go to the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. It was like a scene out of "That Thing You Do" how fast it happened, and there were definitely "pinch-me" moments.
I remember walking in and being astounded at the sheer size of the media tent; there were 425 desks and 39 radio booths I think. When I went to my seat - WOW! - I was between Melanie Hauser on my left and Marino Parascenzo on my right, the GWAA treasurer and a PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Right in front of me were Tim Rosaforte of Golf Channel and Jaime Diaz, and behind me was Sal Johnson of Golf Observer.
You better write well, I said to myself.
So I have to add, I suppose, I should be thanking Hippie Hipster because if he hadn't have given me the blog idea I might not be talking to you here 10 years later.
2. What was your first published golf article and where did it appear?