Greetings from the center of the golf universe.
First let me clarify that by no means do I wish to gloat or create envy from those of you who have yet to visit the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. The thing is, before I made the trek from the Valley of the Sun out here to the Dirty South, I was considering passing on this year’s “once in a lifetime” opportunity to work my 7th consecutive Masters for CBS Sports.
When people ask me about my gig at the Masters, the first words out of my mouth are usually “it’s not as glamorous as it sounds.” Compared to calling the action in the NFL, working courtside in the NBA, or broadcasting MLB action, sitting in a TV truck monitoring and logging press conferences from golfers after they finish their rounds isn’t necessarily my dream job. Apparently at some point in time I lost sight of the fact that many people would consider giving up an extremity or two for this job if it gave them the right to step foot on the only golf course in the world good enough to host a Major Championship on an annual basis.
Today it dawned on me, like it did when I first came here in 2005, how great an opportunity it truly is to be here among so many others who share my passion for golf. Maybe it was because CBS Executive Producer Lance Barrow delivered an inspiring welcome message to the crew of hundreds in the cafeteria this morning just weeks after his mentor, predecessor, and genuine innovator Frank Chirkinian passed away. Perhaps my breakthrough came because I took time to marvel at the pristine weather and conditions on the grounds here as I made the annual Wednesday journey to Amen Corner. Or maybe it was my first experience at the Golf Writers Association of America Annual Awards Dinner that just wrapped up an hour before I started writing this. A dinner that featured an amazing international flare, and I’m not talking about the food. All three players of the year were from outside the United States, and it was fascinating to hear the thoughts and appreciation of Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, Taiwan’s Yani Tseng and Germany’s Bernhard Langer. Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa received the Charlie Bartlett award for her work off the golf course and spoke emotionally about how golf has allowed her to do more important things for her country. Then there was Jack Burke Jr., who stole the show with his wit and wisdom making emcee Rick Reilly feel like a sideshow act. Jackie wasn’t the only American honored tonight though; Steve Stricker deservingly took home the Jim Murray Award given to the pro who’s basically the writer’s pet, or the guy who puts up with the media the best over the year. And I was thrilled to see our own Barbara Douglas from Arizona win this year’s Ben Hogan award for continuing her roles with the USGA, the Arizona Junior Golf Association and many others despite battling ovarian cancer.
I had all of this and a surprisingly tasty dinner to digest while sitting next to Art Spander from the San Francisco Examiner, one of the longest-tenured golf writers in the country and the guy who probably wrote the first sports article I ever read. He along with many others in that room have served as an inspiration to me. I realize it’s a bit odd that while I started my sports journalism career writing for my high school paper, this is probably the most I’ve written since. But you see that’s the great thing about inspiration, it can bring us back to a place we’ve been before and take us to new heights all at the same time.
I hope you all find inspiration, and maybe find your way to Augusta along the way.
Jon Bloom is a host on Sports 620 KTAR and founder of Golfmix.com, which provides reviews of every course in the state of Arizona.