Jan
4
2017
Happy 2017 from Kapalua and we’re back!
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

Hi guys! Happy New Year from Maui and the Tournament of Champions!  We survived 2016 — at least some of us…barely. I feel like I’m writing a personal email to my friends, but in many ways, this website/blog/whatever the hell you want to call it has been like that. Since I started on this journey on a little Tumblr blog in spring 2009, it’s been one heck of an adventure, filled with so much joy, sweat, tears and practically every emotion that goes along with life (mostly positive, though!).

For those of you who have been along since the early days, you’ve witnessed the evolution, and thank you so much for your support, loyalty and belief in me — even your critiques because the constructive non-hater trolling feedback is what has made me work harder and improve my “craft.” In fact, I’ve always said I owe the most to the haters because the hostility and animosity lit a fire under me and inspired me even more to prove them wrong. Same goes for anyone and everyone who has been a casual, avid or occasional reader or hater.

Since sometime in 2014 to early 2015, I haven’t written and/or posted as frequently, passionately and consistently as I did the first five years — much of this has to do with picking up more freelance gigs that made it impossible to do it all. I had already been going at a pace that was simply unsustainable as several of my peers and mentors always warned, but naturally, I am stubborn and refused to heed to their advice. Plus, I devoted more of my efforts to the ever-growing number of social media platforms. As we know, running a site is a 24/7/365 day job, and while I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had amazing people generously contribute in all aspects from writing to technical support to legal advice, I also had other opportunities pop up that took me away from maintaining WUP with the same energy that grew the site into what it was in its peak.

This isn’t a “woe-is-me” column or explanation. I’ve been extremely (hashtag) blessed and fortunate for all the incredible experiences since I embarked on this crazy venture. I’ve met so many wonderful people — many of whom I call good friends and some of whom are now my closest confidantes. There’s also been the other side (as there is to everything in life), but this isn’t the time or place to discuss those things — you’ll have to wait for the book.

Kidding.

Maybe.

I’ve clearly taken a “sabbatical” from WUP for at least two months (or honestly, a year in many respects), which is by far the longest time I’ve gone neglecting my job and passion to keep this site constantly updated with the latest news, feisty takes and unique perspective on golf. It doesn’t feel that long ago when I’d stay up until all hours writing somewhat silly blog posts on some random story that was fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but god forbid, I practically thought the world was going to end if I didn’t finish writing and posting the sixth or seventh post of the day, so there would be fresh material to peruse first thing in the morning for loyal readers. I am poking fun at myself, of course, but man, I was passionate about WUP and my job. I still am. But life happens and it’s like getting struck by lightning when you’re hit with the unexpected and realize family, a few close friends (if you’re lucky) and health are the only things that truly matter at the end of the day. 

Over the years, the media world has evolved and so has WUP, along with my goals as an individual. To be honest, I’ve always seen the site as a means to an end. I constantly need to be challenged and that involves change, so when I landed a gig as an on-air reporter with Fox Sports Asia in 2014, it was practically a dream come true. I had pretty much zero experience and training on-camera, but they took a chance with me (and let’s be honest, how many people out here look the “part” and have the knowledge to do the gig).

For those who don’t know me well or since I was a kid, I used to be extremely shy. No joke. I mean, this is embarrassing and I should probably keep these things to myself, but I remember even at like 17, I would sometimes have too much social anxiety to even ask where the restroom was at a department storm. The thought of speaking to strangers was terrifying to me at times (which is even weird for me to think back to those days).

I can see your faces right now because I’ve seen that same reaction dozens of times. Crazy, I know — it’s hard for most people to believe since most of the time it’s hard to get me to shut up now. However, I still battle social anxiety and have introverted tendencies, but with age and experience, I started to learn how to face irrational fears and vanquish them — that’s just part of life, right? If we don’t continue to try and grow as individuals, then, well, that’s a shame and it sounds awful to stay stagnant after a certain point while you’re still young-ish.

Before summer of 2008, the thought of simply writing and sharing it on the internet for people to read scared the crap out of me. It took a very good and extremely persistent friend for me to take the leap and write for her popular website. By now, I’ve vanquished those fears, for the most part — I still get self-conscious and insecure and it still prevents me from writing as quickly as I should or even altogether at times.

But the next challenge has been to overcome my stage fright. Like everything else, it’s a work in progress, but throughout 2014, I had the aforementioned privilege to be paid to learn how to be an on-air presenter (and I’ll forever be thankful for the patience and belief that my producers bestowed on me). It was such a wonderful year of growth and education and I knew that was what I wanted to devote the majority of my time to going forward. Unfortunately, there were budget cuts the following year and Fox Sports Asia revamped the program, etc. — we all know how this goes, especially anyone in the media these days. (I mean, the bloodbath in print/online golf journalism was absolutely brutal this fall/winter.)

It’s definitely been a bit demoralizing since I haven’t been able to find any similar opportunities, and naturally, it caused me to question my abilities and self-worth (sounds absurd, but can’t help it — it’s in my genes), but that’s where being bilingual comes in! I knew that someday down the line that my ability to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently (well, at least conversationally) would be a massive asset. I grew up speaking it at home and still primarily speak Mandarin to my mother (well, it’s more like Chinglish these days). I speak well enough to carry on a conversation, but not well enough yet to interview a player or give an report on the latest golf news in Mandarin. However, I have a tutor and I plan to get there by April. (Fingers crossed!)

OK, so I completely digressed from where I planned to take this post and got way more personal. This was meant to be more of a “hey, guys, I’m back! I’ve missed you! What do you want to see from WUP in 2017?”

I’ll shut up now trying to explain my existential crisis. I’d like to say my top resolution is to stop treating all my platforms as my personal diary (like I basically am right now!), but at the same time, many of those posts/columns have been received very positively. The numbers have shown that first-person columns on the action is still worth the time at the right time. After all, the point here is to not regurgitate all the same exact content the MSM outlets are producing. I’m also not going to write a straight-up game story giving a play-by-play breakdown about x-player’s round, like which mid-iron Rory McIlroy hit to 2 feet on no. 14 for a kick-in birdie.

Obviously, wish I could do more of my own with video on the PGA Tour, but as most of you know, I’ve run into constraints that are above my pay grade and out of my control. But I will do my best to be more creative and bring you more original content with the passion and fervor that I sought out to when I first embarked on this crazy journey. (And I plan to spend more time again on the European Tour. I am heading to Abu Dhabi the week after next. Yep. Wow, I know, but I have never been to the Middle East and it’s not exactly on the top of anyone’s “vacation destination,” so I managed to make it happen for work.

Finally, this is the second coming of WUP and I promise to do better and return to my roots. I don’t know what that exactly looks like right now. I wish I could program my site so that all my posts from the 18 or however many social media platforms I use would automatically aggregate in a cool-looking template on WUP.  (Paging all programmers!) Anyway, I am not saying the site is going to be the same as it was in 2013 or whenever it was at its peak, but I will do my best to bring you the best coverage and content to my ability (not to mention somewhat limited resources — not that it’s stopped me in the past!).

So, now I turn it over to you guys: What kind of stories would you like to see in 2017? What kind of content? What do you like the most? What would you prefer not to see? (Personally, I think recaps — with exceptions — are kind of lame, unless it’s Tiger Woods making his 15th comeback or a really special round at a major, etc.) I want to hear your feedback, your ideas, your thoughts, your critiques (though I’ve done enough introspection to know what you’re going to say, so let’s focus on the positives).

Before you say it, I have been meaning to start a podcast and I will very soon. I just need to figure that all out and make somewhat of a plan, or I could just go with what I’ve generally do and go with the flow! We’ll see. But I need a name for the podcast! Any suggestions? And any thoughts on the style/format, etc. of the podcast?

Alright, I’m pumped! Let’s do this! MAKE WUP GREAT AGAIN.

Thanks for your continued support.