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Influential or No Influence At All?

Toronto Sun golf columnist Ian Hutchinson has a relatively interesting take on the RCGA’s search for a new executive director. Of course it contains nothing that hasn’t already been kicked around on the pages of a couple of blogs (here, for example). Hutchinson names Angus Glen VP Kevin Thistle and Brad Pelletier as possibilities, and then dismisses them because members of the golf media raised them as the type that might fill former RCGA ED Stephen Ross’ shoes.

Then he takes a shot at the National Post’s golf magazine, which I contributed to, and specifically at the publication’s list of the Top 25 Most Influential People in Canadian Golf. Admittedly I had something to do with the list, as I called dozens of inner-circle types across the country to find their opinions.

Hutchinson had this to say:

All have redeeming qualities, but it’s just a popularity contest at this point. If the media was so influential, then why did one national golf publication have to yank Ross’ photo from its cover and make a quick change after naming him the most influential person in Canadian golf?

Apparently, all that influence can dry up pretty quickly. According to that magazine, the most influential person in Canadian golf is now nameless and faceless, which says it all about the value of such a superficial, controversy-seeking story.

This kind of reporting leaves me disheartened. Ross was never intended to be the cover of the National Post golf magazine — that was always intended to be Stephen Ames and Sean Foley, and that’s exactly what happened.

And frankly, I just don’t understand what Hutchinson is getting at. “If the media was so influential, then why did one national golf publication have to yank Ross’ photo from its cover and make a quick change after naming him the most influential person in Canadian golf? ” Hutchinson asks. Right. Ross is no longer part of the industry. He was important and influential due to his position, which he no longer has. I don’t see how linking a person with his position relative to their influence is a difficult concept to grasp.

However, I’d defend the notion that whomever takes the role of ED at the RCGA immediately becomes the most important person in Canadian golf. They have to fix the Canadian Open, heal wounds with other organizations, like the CJGA and the NGCOA. He or she will have to work out the finances of the RCGA and determine the best path going forward. They will have to deal with the RCGA’s Long Term Player Development Program. It is a big task.

As for the role of ED, Rick Desrochers, the RCGA’s acting ED, says the interviews are starting soon.

“There is no specific timeline, other than what logic dictates. If we could have someone in place by the time the Open rolls around, that would be perfect and that’s July,” said Desrochers.

Hutchinson’s column can be found here.

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

12 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I think that for the most part you have made my point very eloquently. I have always believed that sports journalists more often than not get it wrong. I think this is what you yourself are saying about Ian’s column. As you say, “this kind of reporting leaves me disheartened”. I agree, not just in the instance, but in general.

  • Your point, “Funny.” I’m frankly left a little cold by someone who puts themselves up as a critic, but won’t even use their own name in their criticism. I take that for what it is worth — very little.

  • Does the ED post has to be filled by a Canadian? Perhaps RCGA can hire a well-connected American to fill the post. I know this might not appease a lot of golf insiders in Canadians, but this is about getting the best candidate for the job with influence beyond the Canadian border.

    I hope they go outside of the inner circle and find someone progressive and innovative, rather than the current crop of people in the innder circle. I have a feeling this might go down the path of the Ted Saskin hiring by the NHL PA.

  • Robert:
    I too had trouble following Hutch’s logic on the Stephen Ross thing. Of course they’d pull his photo after he was let go. It’s a list of influential people and he suddenly lost his position of influence. It has nothing to do with the media.

  • I may be too far away but I have no idea how the Ex Director of the RCGA has much influence at all on the majority of golfers and golfing fans in Canada. As proud as Canadians are of the Canadian Open, in general they still are not influenced by it. I like some of Ian’s reasoning, but really, what percentage of the Canadian golfing public even know that Ross is gone, and more interesting to find out, what percentage know where he’s gone from? Will it change the price of golf?

  • I have to agree with funny on this one robert. I have been involved with sports journalists all my life and most of the time you guys are clueless. You start from the story you really want to write and make the facts fit your story. I guess you guys are in the entertainment business, so from that standpoint, you serve a function. In my opinion you guys are fiction writers as opposed to non fiction. I think you are being critical of Ian for exactly the point we are making. l

  • I Agree with Funny:

    I was being critical of Ian for not checking his facts. I’m quite intrigued at having other examples of this pointed out, especially since I’m not quite as certain as you that this is rampant in sports writing. Seems to me people — not in the media — say this all the time. But back it up with some facts. As for the “you guys” that you mention — who exactly are we talking about. Show me some proof. I always enjoy some anonymous critic saying writers are “clueless.” Why bother coming by this site then? Why bother reading a newspaper?

  • robert…as i said, it is just entertainment. that is why i read newspapers. as for sports writers, my opinion is that most don’t check facts. they make the facts fit the story. but that is okay, as long as everyone realizes that you guys are there for entertainment and fiction. problem is that often believe actually believe what you write….ian being a good example. another good example is the bull pen story, which i see has come down. any reason for that?

  • My take on the Bullpen story is still up — so I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Ian’s story is just a one off — he’s generally solid, in my opinion.

    So where are your examples?

  • Hi Robert…Man, that column caused some commotion, didn’t it? The only point I wanted to make is that someone who is influential earns such a distinction through merit, not through a title that he or she receives upon being hired. I’m sure you agree that we’ve seen plenty of people hired to various positions in Canadian golf and not last long. If they’re only in the job for less than a year, does that make them influential? The new RCGA executive director might do a bang-on job, might not. Let’s see what happens. As for Kevin Thistle, Keith Pelley and Brad Pelletier, I wasn’t dismissing anyone–just pointing out that any name you bring up right now is purely media speculation. I’ve heard a lot of other names. These are just a few and I know and respect all three of the names I mentioned. Anyway, I just find such lists, be they “most influential” or golf course rankings, to be manufactured controversy with no basis in fact.
    Cheers, Hutch

  • Ian: I disagree. Sure, some influence comes with merit, but much of it comes with a title. Ross could be the best ED in the history of the RCGA, but without that title, he’s yesterday’s news.

  • If you use that logic Robert, does that mean Dick Grimm has no influence because he no longer has a position at the RCGA? It’s been my experience that when Dick talks, people listen. I remember one time when Dick dropped by at a charity tournament I was playing in and PGA Tour players began filing over to be with him and chat with him. Personally, I would give Dick all the time in the world and listen to his knowledge carefully, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with him and he has a title no more. If you’re going to talk about establishing programs and affecting golf today, I go along with the wisdom of the always influential Slats elsewhere on this blog–the person who is the most influential to an individual is likely a pro who has affected your game in a positive way or a person who has given of their time to organize a junior program. These people are too often overlooked. How can we call someone a powerbroker if we don’t even know who he/she is? Have a great day.

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