Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, kids rarely specialized in one sport. We played everything. We even invented our own sports when the environment called for it. I had a Wiffle Ball stadium in my back yard. The pitched roof of my house was the “Gray Monster.” But with that said, golf came much later. I watched the 1986 Masters and was hooked. My senior year in high school, my friends and I would skip classes in the afternoon and go play this muni in Hollywood, Fla., called Orangebrook. We’d either do that or go to the race track.
My first byline in the Miami Herald came in 1984, when I had just turned 15. Not kidding. They misspelled my name in the paper, but that’s OK. I knew when I was very young that I wanted to be a writer, and I pursued it aggressively as early as high school. By the time I graduated and went off to college at the University of Florida for journalism, I had more writing experience than many of the university’s journalism graduates had accumulated in four years. In college, I was a correspondent for several Florida newspapers, and I was actually hired as a staff writer for the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner before graduating. I knew this was going to be my profession.
After Ocala, I was quickly hired as a staff writer by the Tampa Tribune. After five years, I moved on because an opportunity came up that I really wanted: to write about golf. Golf quickly became my first-love subject and sport, so when an old college friend told me about an opening with the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press, I applied even though it was a smaller paper than Tampa. I built that beat from the ground up, eventually becoming the Gannett News Wire’s only national golf writer. My stories started appearing in newspapers all over the country thanks to GNS’ extensive paper empire. Back in 2000, I was covering the British Open for GNS and the News-Press when I ran into another college buddy who was there working for the New York Times online service. At that time, the New York Times owned Golf Digest, and he told me there was a junior-level opening at the magazine and I should apply. It was a long shot, but I applied and somehow got the job. That was October of 2000, and I was hired as an associate editor writing a hodgepodge of things: travel, instruction, rules, mini profiles, etc.
Within a few years of coming to Golf Digest, I realized that fitness was a growing trend in golf that was largely being ignored. Not just by Golf Digest, virtually all media. I saw an opportunity to become the lone voice of golf fitness in the media. More and more, I convinced the bosses at GD to increase coverage. Fractional tips became one-page articles, which grew into larger articles, which grew into a monthly contribution. The website coverage and Fitness Friday were part of the natural progression. Although, I must say, we are going in a different direction now. I’m still doing fitness, and in volume, but it is being released whenever we think it best—not just on Fridays.
There are a lot of bright and interesting people in golf fitness. But one stands out for me: Ben Shear. His knowledge of physiology, golf and fitness is extensive and there is so much to learn from his approach. Ben teaches everyone from tour pros to children. And he continues to adapt his teaching to the latest technology and research.
Using Google, you can get a lot out of just typing “Golf Digest” and “fitness” into the search engine. To single out some other search topics, I would focus on core muscles, training in multiple planes, the best gym equipment for golf, exercises for power and exercises for mobility.
Late last year I was promoted to instruction editor. That’s my main responsibility now. Planning, executing, writing and editing our instruction packages from month to month. I’m also our liaison to tour pros. I do a lot for GD. I was the rules editor for more than a decade, and was the “Life” editor for roughly the same span. That’s the front-of-magazine section devoted to profiles, fitness, rules, travel, humor, tips, etc.
I’m a hard-luck golfer. Coming at it later in life, I let my brain get in the way of a naturally athletic swing. Now, working with dozens of the best instructors in the world, I know too much about swing mechanics to just get up and rip it. I can shoot anywhere from the mid 70s to the high 90s but those rounds in the 70s are few and far between. But I will say my game is trending in the right direction again. I play a lot. To quote a co-worker: “This is not Cubicle Digest.” Meaning, we get out an play this sport because we love it.
9. What question haven’t we asked, that you wish we had asked? Ask it and then answer it.
Among the things I’ve done since coming to GD: I’ve written about playing golf while drinking and testing my blood-alcohol level with a breathalyzer. I’ve played the longest golf course in the United States with three World Long Drive Champions. I’ve written about what it’s like to play golf without looking at the golf ball and how short a course would I have to play to break par. In other words, I’ve had a lot of fun doing this job over the years.