As hopefully most of you know — because you read it, yesterday — I wrote a review of my friend Shane Ryan’s new book, Slaying the Tiger: A year inside the ropes on the new PGA Tour. Well, Shane’s book is creating quite a bit of buzz in the golf media. Some have taken issue with it for various reasons, but more have raved about it for being an honest depiction of the younger generation on the PGA Tour.
Shane joined Gary Williams on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive to chat about the book. Here’s the first clip:
Next, Gary asks Shane about his chapter on Bubba Watson. Shocker: Shane doesn’t paint the most positive picture of the two-time Masters champion.
Finally, Williams is joined by Damon Hack and Paige Mackenzie to discuss their takes.
Paige is one of my oldest and dearest friends — dating back to our days in junior golf — but I have to disagree with her on this topic. If everything the media reported, wrote and talked about was confined to the golfer’s current on-course lives, it would be slightly boring and reduce our jobs to PR flaks. There’s already more than enough fluff in the golf media, and we’re put in difficult positions sometimes because you (or I) want to write the brutal truth, but then we have to tread carefully if we want to maintain our access to the players.
Golf is different than other sports in many ways and that includes covering it. In other sports, it’s rare that a player spends his entire career with one team, so it’s easier for beat writers to so-called “burn” a bridge with someone, and there’s just not as much longevity in players’ careers and there’s an ever-changing carousel. With golf, players have 20-30 year careers (or even longer) and we’re usually not just covering one or two guys — rather, at least 200 of them in men’s golf. We often fear publishing similar material to what Ryan does in his book because it could not only hurt our relationship with that one player, but a whole bevy of them.
The PGA Tour is a small (insular) world, and there’s a lot of downtime to talk (trust me, these guys gossip like middle school tweens) and word gets around pretty fast. So, if you burn one guy, you probably burn everyone in their circle of friends or even beyond. It’s a hard decision to make sometimes. Personally, I frequently have to ask myself, “Is it worth it?” The answer more often than not is “no” — even if the tidbit or information is relatively harmless in the grand scheme of things (but it’s probably material you guys would love to know). I could write a book about this topic — and all the stuff that I’ve kept in my back pocket over the past five years — and perhaps someday I will, but for now, I’ll contain it to my private notes and conversations with colleagues.
I commend Shane for having the gumption to go where he did and write such an honest and entertaining book. I think that some of those whom he profiles will be upset by the way they’re characterized, and perhaps a few of those have reason, but for the most part, I believe he was fair and you need to have the perspective to read deeper and see the bigger picture that he paints. We all have flaws and vulnerabilities, but sometimes reading and hearing about them from an outsider can rub people the wrong way — or they just don’t have/want the ability to see beyond their narrow-minded perspectives.
I guarantee you that if you actually read all of Shane’s book, though, that you’ll walk away from it entertained and more enlightened about several of the characters that are now headliners on the PGA Tour.