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May 29, 2009

Nice work ... if you can get it

Friends used to tease me about what a cushy job I had writing sports. Get into all those events free. Great seats. Sit in a nice warm press box in lousy football weather. Free food (though in later years that perk wasn't what it used to be). 

Yeah, it was good work. But it had drawbacks, too. Lots of night and weekend work. Late night drives home in crummy weather. While fans return to the parking lot to continue imbibing after a football game, you're banging out a quick story and then heading to the interview room to try to elicit useable quotes from players who don't always feel like talking. There was travel, to be sure, but how long has it been since flying somewhere was a pleasurable experience?

There was the occasional assignment, though, that was downright cushy and I'm sitting at the site of one of them right now. I'm talking about covering golf. It's a pretty sweet gig. In fact, I'm almost embarrassed to admit how easy it is.  I'm reminded of that as I write this from the comfort of the Glen Oaks clubhouse at the Principal Charity Classic.

Covering golf, you work in gorgeous surroundings. The Glen Oaks media room looks out over the swimming pool, the 18th green and some of the palatial homes lining the course. The media folks from the PGA are knowledgeable, friendly and go out of their way to help you. The golfers, especially on the Champions Tour, are approachable and easy going.  Hey, these guys found a new life at 50. Who wouldn't be happy about that?

While it's always good to wander around the course to get a feel for things, you can watch the tournament on TV in the media room and they bring the golfers to you. They're usually good for decent quotes and their recall is amazing. I was talking to Tom Watson once and he could remember shots he made years before, the club he used and exactly how far he was from the hole. I'm lucky to remember what I did last week. The food, you ask? Well, today's menu featured pecan-encrusted walleye and key lime pie (or pecan, if that's your preference). And to think I used to get paid for this.

Admittedly there's a lot of pressure covering a major tournament, especially when you work for the Associated Press. You have to tell a great story and you have to do it quickly and accurately. And here at the Principal Charity Classic, Rick Brown of the Des Moines Register works his tail off turning out stories. But for an AP guy covering a routine tournament, it doesn't get much better.

Just don't spread that around, OK?

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