Meet Your Golf Spies – GolfSpy T
Written by: Tony Covey
What Would You Say You Do Here?
When people ask me what I do, I don’t have the first clue how to answer. Blogger? Writer? Ex-IT guy with too much free time? Journalist…definitely not that last one. Journalists have rules. I prefer to operate under less restrictive guidelines.
Off the record is off the record, but anything beyond that…I may go rogue.
And so when pressed, I usually tell them I’m in the golf industry, and then spend the next 5 minutes trying to explain exactly what it is I do, which isn’t exactly easy, because most days, I don’t know exactly what it is that I do.
I write. I hit golf balls – lots of golf balls. I fly to San Deigo – often for no particular reason, and I’m fairly certain I love nearly every minute of it.
Just Lucky I Guess
A lot of what happens in life happens by accident.
I never set out to become the greatest equipment writer in all of golf.
Hell, I never set out to be the 2nd…ok maybe 3rd rate journalist (I hate that word) that I actually am. I might be the Kathy Griffin of golf equipment coverage. I’m a hack who found his niche.
Callaway just favored that, but they didn’t retweet it.
Any measure of success as a writer is asking a lot from a guy who’s over-reliant on spell check and despite the best technology available for such things, still only manages to hit at about an 85% rate – and yet, here I am. And here you are too. Ain’t that some shit?
Invariably there’s a follow up question. “How did you get into that?”
Hell If I Know
How does anybody get into anything? This was never something I built up to. I’m not much for master plans.
The truth is I’m just like most of you. I’m just a guy who is obsessive about golf equipment. I have been since the first time I hit a golf ball on a driving range.
I could give a damn about what goes on week to week on the tour, but if somebody…anybody…releases a new driver, I have a pathological need to know everything there is to know about it. Actually…I had a pathological need, now I look forward to reading press releases, having a good laugh, and eventually finding out if the latest and greatest is actually worth a damn.
I love golf equipment. I live for it.
But as to how I got here…the short answer is I got lucky. I came to the right place at the right time with the right idea; reviewing golf clubs and using actual data to support your conclusions. I know…I’m a regular friggin Einstein.
I’ll be the first to admit that the idea itself is only slightly more ingenious than the EZ Cracker. But this is golf. More accurately, this is the golf equipment industry, and at the time I thunk it up, reviewing clubs based on launch monitor data was pretty revolutionary stuff.
Bottom Line – I’m just a gearhead who had a mediocre idea. Fortunately, while I may not be able to spell worth a damn, I’ve got a big mouth, and I can write a little bit, but like Forrest Gump said, “I never thought it would take me anywhere”.
Some Days It’s Not Real
My accidental career has taken me places that most golfers only dream of going.
For most of us who live in the Northeast, going to California during the winter is kind of a big win anyway, but hitting balls at TaylorMade’s Kingdom with Jim Flick mocking your waggle… getting help with your grip from Roger Cleveland at the Ely Callaway Performance Center…giving Johnny Vegas a 5 minute primer on Adobe Lightroom at a Nike Event…and 3 days with the Cobra-PUMA team that would be unforgettable…if I could remember what the hell happened; every year has a handful of “I can’t believe this is actually my life” moments .
It has been awesome. That’s a good bit of the reason why I do what I do.
The fact that golf companies read what I write and care what I think; it’s mind boggling and exceptionally humbling.
I’m fortunate, I know it, and I try never to forget it.
Some Days It Blows
Whoever said “Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” didn’t know what the fuck he was talking about (my job also affords me the luxury of dropping the occasional F-Bomb). What I do is work (sometimes).
Let’s be honest here. The golf equipment industry is a pretty ridiculous place.
Callaway can’t release a product without sticking the letter X in the name, TaylorMade spent the better part of 6 weeks tacking “-IER” to the back end of every phrase in their vocabulary and Titleist struggles to compose a sentence that doesn’t include “The #1 Ball in Golf”.
Everybody pays somebody to tweet. That’s pretty ridiculous.
It’s an industry that still largely expects 100% positive coverage. Always. It’s a place where golf companies complain if their club only scores a 92, where you can catch hell from a PR guy over one sentence in a 4,000 word article (that’s if he doesn’t stop talking to you altogether), and where 100 strangers are courageous enough to call you an asshole (and a moron…and a racist) if you write so much as one negative word about Tiger Woods.
Never mention Tiger Woods…ever.
One guy actually suggested that something negative I wrote about Tiger Woods stemmed from my hatred for half-Asians. If I showed you a picture of my amazing daughter you’d understand why that one is particularly ridiculous.
I don’t have half-Asian friends. I have a half-Asian kid, and I made her myself.
And all of that is before we start talking about what happens if you post a picture before a certain golf company wants you to. Two words: Trade Secrets.
It could wear on you…if it wasn’t just so damn ridiculous.
Golf is Fun…Remember?
Somewhere along the way the industry lost its way, and to an extent so have many of the people who cover it did to. Maybe it’s the impact of big advertising dollars, maybe there’s a need to conform to some code of journalistic whatever-ness. I don’t believe that to be taken seriously one needs to always be serious.
Isn’t golf a game? Aren’t games supposed to be fun?
We’re talking about a sport where professionals wear bright orange pants.
You can talk about golf, and golf equipment, but don’t let on that you actually love it…or worse yet, love some stuff more than others. State the facts and nothing but the facts.
If those are the rules, I don’t understand them. You can keep your media badge, if I can keep my passion.
Golf Equipment is Cool
There’s not much in this world that I think is cooler than new golf equipment; Drivers, hybrids, irons, wedges…and begrudgingly fairway woods and putters too. It’s all really, really cool.
Seriously, it’s really fucking cool.
Callaway’s Xtreme Hot RAZR (not sure if that one is real) is cool. And it was cool (and fun too) when TaylorMade did the “-IER” thing, and it’s actually kinda cool to hear the Titleist reps in their white sportcoats talking about the #1 Ball in Golf at the PGA Show.
Callaway gets excited. TaylorMade gets excited. And while it’s perhaps more subdued, behind the mostly-straight faces, Titleist gets excited too. I’m almost certain of it.
I get excited too.
Golf equipment coverage should be about more than specs. It should reflect the passion for the equipment and the game that so many of us feel. It should also reflect the passion that the guys at TaylorMade, Cobra-PUMA, PING, and every other company on the planet feels for their own products.
Each and every one of us has an emotional reaction to the way titanium and steel, and paint come together to form all that cool gear that goes in golf bags.
I’m not any different. To pretend otherwise would be ridiculous.
Who Cares How
How I came to be a golf equipment writer doesn’t much matter. There’s almost no story in a mediocre idea, an English degree, and a big mouth.
It’s more about why I do it – and that’s actually pretty simple.
I don’t do it for the glory (there’s no glory in this), and I don’t do it for the trips to California (ok…maybe a little bit for the trips to California), and I definitely don’t do it because I have a soft spot for mildly annoyed PR people.
I do it because I love golf, and golf equipment and orange pants, and because, as ridiculous as it sounds, I want you to love orange pants too.
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