C'mon Jack, Make the Tour Fun Again
One thing I learned early in this job as golf writer for The Pilot: There is never a shortage of subjects about which to write.
(Notice that usage of grammar there? Sounds clumsy but you get style points when you don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Not to fear, you’ll never hear me speak like that.)
But seriously, I still remember a conversation I had with our distinguished, hard-working editor, Steve Bouser, some 13 years ago.
“Howard,” he said, “we appreciate the job you’re doing, but we’re afraid you’re going to run out of subjects for your articles.”
“Steve,” I replied, with an appropriately arched eyebrow (I hope). “I’ll never run out of subjects. Everybody who plays golf in the Sandhills is a story. And if there’s someone in the Sandhills who doesn’t play golf, we’ve really got a story.”
Over the years we’ve written articles about hundreds of individuals, dozens of golf courses and even a few ball-washers. (OK, so even golf writers have a tough week now and then.)
One of my favorite subjects right now is young Jack Fields. This is a kid with apparently unlimited potential on the golf course. Watching him pursue his dream to become a PGA Tour player is riveting.
If all it takes is ambition and talent, Fields would seem to be a can’t-miss player. He’s been winning tournaments since he was old enough to pick up a golf club and has an uncanny ability to respond to the pressures of the moment.
Fortunately for young Jack, he’s blessed with parents who share his dream and have been willing to make the sacrifices necessary to see him follow them.
Talent, desire and a supporting family: Those are three ingredients that any aspiring professional must have in order to succeed.
I’m no fortune teller, and if I had a crystal ball, I’d probably tee it up and try to play golf with it. But I’m as excited as an outside observer can be about watching Jack’s pursuit of a professional career.
Frankly, I’d just like to have someone out there that I can pull for again. I’m embarrassed to say that staying awake through the average golf telecast is becoming more and more difficult for me.
What? Heck no, aging ain’t the problem, man! It’s just that there is no one out there right now that I’m emotionally involved with.
(Guess I lost a couple of style points with that dangling preposition. But as my sixth grade teacher, Miss Miller, used to say, “Don’t worry, Howard, you’ll never see any of your writing in print.)
My problem is I just need someone to pull for on the Tour. I mean, I can get a lot more interested in watching Paula Creamer or Christie Kerr or Morgan Pressel or Michelle Wie than I can in keeping up with Charlie Hoffman, Bryce Molder or Rory Sabbatini.
But back to my problem. (Maybe we shouldn’t really go there.) OK, one of my problems is watching golf on TV. I guess I got spoiled many years ago when we had two Fayetteville players competing on the Tour.
Raymond Floyd and Chip Beck kept me glued to the set on most weekends and I NEVER fell asleep no matter how bad they were playing.
One of my favorite memories that still gives me a chuckle happened in Birmingham, Ala., during the infamous PGA Championship at Shoal Creek.
I was sitting well back in the media room during an interview with Beck, who was near the lead after the first round and was answering questions when he spotted me.
“Howard Ward!” he boomed. “What are you doing here?”
Now that’s the kind of stuff I miss. I’m not sure there’s a golfer on the Tour today who knows my name. And frankly, there are quite a few that I wouldn’t recognize if I met them at my favorite fast-food drive-through restaurant.
So yeah, I’m pulling for Jack Fields to make it big. Heck, I’m hoping to still be around for the 2014 U.S. Open doubleheader in Pinehurst and it would make my career if one of the players was introduced as Mr. Jack Fields, of Southern Pines, N.C.
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