Get the beers on ice – Tiger’s coming

Show me the money - Tiger Woods

Show me the money - Tiger Woods

Just a few short weeks after welcoming Tiger Woods back to the game, golf has found itself embroiled in a bitter controversy surrounding the world’s greatest player.

The biggest stooshie in world golf at the moment seems to be that a bunch of Australians trying to run a golf tournament have dared to dangle a brown envelope containing $3m in unmarked bills in front of Woods’ nose while making cooing noises and come here gestures in a bid to get him to come to their party.

Woods has now pocketed the brown envelope and booked his flight to play in the Australian Masters at Kingston Heath in Melbourne in November. And you can’t blame him.

And you know what? You can’t blame the organisers either. In times when there’s more golf tournaments than there are weeks of the year, not to mention the current economic gloom, it’s more important than ever for organisers to make their tournament stand out from the crowd and appeal to sponsors.

The column inches already afforded to a tournament that is still eight months away has entirely vindicated their decision and the media circus that will surround Woods in Melbourne before, during and after his first appearance Down Under in more than a decade will give the Australiasian Tour a profile it has never before enjoyed, as well as having the sponsors drooling.

Of course, it is because part of the $3m stumped up for Woods’ appearance is reportedly coming from the Victoria state government that has caused the controversy, even though state premier John Brumby has claimed it will bring in $19m to the economy. I’m not sure how many bottles of Toohey’s Extra Dry it took to come up with that figure, it does seem a bit excessive, but there’s no doubt that when Tiger comes to town it will be big business and he’ll more than pay for his appearance fee.

Indeed, top Australian golfer Stuart Appleby put it pretty bluntly and risked the wrath of the “common man” when he said: “It will be great for the game and bring out a lot of people who haven’t seen him before, in person, not on a video game.

“There’s a lot of people hurting in Australia, and they might look negatively that one guy is paid $3m just to turn up.  The common man won’t understand the business model because the government is paying for it. They might not see the money he brings in.”

Another major bone of contention is the perceived fact that it will take the shine off the Australian Open, staged just two weeks later and historically the more prestigious of the two tournaments. Five-time Open champion and arguably Australia’s greatest ever golfer, Peter Thomson, has waded into the debate by reportedly saying: “In my view it’s going to damage our national Open. He won’t be playing in that but it sucks up potential sponsorship.”

What Thomson may be failing to take into account is that Tiger’s appearances in anything but the big tournaments are a rarity, not least those that involve travelling halfway round the world to play on a tour as small as the Australiasian Tour.

The fact that he is willing to play, albeit thanks to a wad of cash, and that it coincides with a free week is a real coup and not something that organisers could have turned their noses up at.

Who’s to say they didn’t try to get him to the Australian Open a fortnight later? The fact that the Open falls on the same dates as the LG Skins match, or the week before Tiger’s own rearranged Chevron World Challenge Match renders it improbable in the extreme that he would have agreed to play on the opposite side of the planet for even double the $3m he is already receiving.

Australian golf fans should be applauding the tournament organisers and the Victoria state government for their ambition while getting the beers on ice and preparing to see one of the greatest sportsmen alive perform in the flesh.

Of course, I have’t yet touched on the frightening consequences that money, and who has most of it, is now having and will continue to have on the game of golf. But that’s for another blog entirely.

Is the pen mightier than the recorder?

While catching up on some of the old media gossip in Scotland recently, I stumbled across this debate about shorthand on allmediascotland.com

In it Mike Boyle, course co-ordinator of HND Practical Journalism and NCTJ Journalism at Cardonald College, Glasgow, extols the virtues of the art of shorthand after it was dropped as an option from the BA Journalism and Creative Writing degree at Strathclyde University.

I couldn’t help but wade in and you’ll see my tuppence worth as well as a few others at the bottom of the article. (I particularly like Dorothy-Grace Elder’s frisking anecdote in a Russian jail.)

When I left Napier University, shorthand was probably the only useful skill I had learned (other than a little bit of media law) and the rest I learned on the job – and very quickly at that.

I’m actually lucky I passed it to be honest because my attendance record at the shorthand classes with the Tartan Temptress June Stobie (she had a rather fetching tartan jacket) was less than exemplary.

It was first thing on a Thursday morning you see and Wednesday afternoon’s was when the university football team’s played followed by the obligatory night out.

My old mucker and flatmate Gordon Smart, now flying high on media power lists across the globe as The Sun’s Bizarre editor, also ran a Wednesday club night, Shark, at one our favoured evening retreats where the football team would generally drink the night and much of the morning away.

The result was, more often than not, a Thursday morning hangover and a big cross (isn’t that Teeline shorthand for accident?) next to the names Connor and Smart on June’s attendance sheet.

But we both passed and I’m so grateful to June for beating it into us. I couldn’t have got through those employment tribunals and Haddington Sheriff Court trials without it.

Maintaining e-cred is hard work

Jings, crivens and help ma boab! Is that really more than a year since my last blog?

It’s amazing how much time it takes to maintain your e-cred in these new-fangled technological times – and I’ve not even bothered with the Facebook’s, Linkedin’s and Twitter’s of this crazy interactive world yet.

For the past year I’ve been tremendously busy uprooting my family, moving to Portsmouth, working with golf marketing company The Azalea Group and news editing golf magazine Fairway to Green.

It would be mostly true to say that I’ve been too busy to keep this blog up but the whole truth and nothing but the truth would also include the fact that sometimes I forgot and other times I just couldn’t be arsed.

Sadly my time at Azalea and Fairway to Green has come to an end but throughout the past year I have had the privilege to work with and meet some amazing people (and some not so), learn more about the golf industry and generally indulge my passion for the game of golf.

I’ll probably post in more detail at a later date about my experiences at Azalea and Fairway to Green.

However, what all this means – other than the fact that I’m looking for a job (note to all prospective employers and commissioning editors) – is that I can resurrect this blog and hopefully this time keep it going even when I do find a new job.

Here’s to pastures new……..