Rubenstein Shares Stories at Breakfast
Lorne Rubenstein is one of the most well-known and respected golf writers in the world. He’s covered every major championship, interviewed the greatest golfers in the universe and has more stories than John Derr.
OK, so maybe I’m reaching a little with that last one.
Rubenstein was in Pinehurst last week to tour the restored No. 2 Course and play a round at the Dormie Club. While he was in town, old friend Tom Stewart leaned on him a little and got him to speak to a breakfast club gathering at Pinehurst Resort’s Member’s Club.
Rubenstein entertained the breakfast club for almost an hour, then subjected himself to a question and answer session. That’ll teach him not schedule such an early tee time at the Dormie.
Rubenstein, a Canadian whose primary job is golf writer for the Globe & Mail in Toronto, has written 11 books. He served a short time as a caddie for Canadian professional Jim Nelford and has played rounds with some of the biggest names in the history of the game.
“I’m working on a Moe Norman book right now,” Rubenstein revealed, “because I really didn’t want to write another golf lesson book. I figure those books are probably the reason I don’t have a golf game anymore.
“I never seriously considered playing professionally because I learned a long time ago that in order to be a really good golfer, you either had to be really smart or really dumb and I didn’t qualify either way.”
Rubenstein downplays his own game, but actually is a very good player.
“I was playing in a match play amateur event in Canada that I really wanted to win,” he said, “and I was 2-up with three holes to play. You know what I was thinking? ‘Hey, even if I lose the next three holes I’ll only lose 1-up. That’s exactly what I did.”
As much time as he’s spent covering the professional game, Rubenstein still views golf from a wider perspective.
“Golf is so much more than the PGA Tour,” he said. “Golf to me is all about the stories. You spend three to five hours during a round — three in Europe and five here — and you get to hear them all. Golf is the universal voice of sports.
“If you have 156 players in a tournament, there are 156 stories there. I hate to see writers call golfers ‘no-names’ because there are no ‘no-names.’ Behind every number on a scoreboard there’s a story.”
Rubenstein doesn’t really cover golf tournaments. He digs for human interest articles and never has trouble finding one.
“I’m a columnist,” he said. “I don’t think I could write a game story. I wander around and find some kind of angle I can write about.”
One of Rubenstein’s favorite golfers is Seve Ballesteros. “I always admired the way Seve played the game,” he said. “He played it with such passion.”
Rubenstein recalls playing a round with Arnold Palmer and losing five dollars to The King. “I tried to pay him in Canadian money,” Rubenstein laughed. “He wouldn’t take the money, so I had him to sign the $5 bill and I still have it.”
Another thing Rubenstein hates to see in a golf article is the word “choke.”
“I never use the word ‘choke’,” he said. “Golf is just a very tough game and sometimes you just can’t respond to the situation. I know … I’ve been there.”
While many golf fans complain about the television and newspaper coverage given to Tiger Woods, Rubenstein understands it.
“It’s just phenomenal to watch Tiger when he’s on his game,” he said. “It was just electrifying to watch him on the front nine at the Masters Sunday.
“If you like excellence, you never get bored with Tiger. It’s a human being trying to achieve excellence.”
Rubenstein was impressed with the restoration of the No. 2 Course.
“I like that kind of parkland golf,” he said of the new sand and wire grass look. “As much as Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw wanted the course to be a test for the U.S. Open, they still want people to be able to play and enjoy it. They’ve accomplished that.”
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