A collection of random memories found in and around my desk at the Oregonian as I prepare for my Aug. 28 departure. Today:
A snapped-off driver turned hobo bindle.
I bought the driver for $19.99 from Target at the dawn of my golf writing career.
Golf is a fun thing to cover, because golf doesn’t hang out in the bad part of town. Plus, fun people. I remember standing in the press tent at the Bob Hope tournament in Palm Desert — Casey Martin’s first PGA Tour event — talking to Thomas Bonk, then of the Los Angeles Times.
Someone cruised by, barely breaking stride as they shouted, “What’s going on, T-Bonk?”
“Just filling space around the penile enlargement ads,” he said.
Best to understand your place in the world. Helps keep you grounded. That was my takeaway from that exchange, anyway.
A few months later, I was near San Diego, chasing Tiger Woods and his winning streak when sports editor Dennis Peck called to tell me I was now a full-time staff member at the Oregonian. It came with a nice raise.
I made dinner plans and then changed them when, standing outside my hotel, I ran into Bonk and told him the news. Four bottles of Chilean wine later, the group of us hit the bars. At one point, we unsuccessfully attempted to get the poor kid working the night shift to re-open the bar at the Courtyard by Marriott where we were all staying.
At a U.S. Open once, I walked into the dining tent with Chuck Culpepper and Joe Posnanski, and we chose a seat specifically so we could soak up some Dan Jenkins aura. It was everything we hoped.
The thing about golf writers, however, is they play golf. I didn’t. Not really. But at many a tournament, there’d be a day where the writers could play the course. If this happened before the tournament — usually months in advance — you could pass it off as research. If it happened after, it was just playing golf.
I had some clubs, but I didn’t have a driver. So I went to Target and bought one in time to play a round at the Portland Golf Club, which was hosting a USGA event.
I don’t remember which USGA event, but I ended up paired with a guy from the Golf Channel and a PR person from the USGA. Nice guys. Good golfers.
As to what happened next, it’s possible the blame could be placed on me. That my swing, while relatively fluid, wasn’t technically “good.” Perhaps it was my fault when, after two terrible drives, a third popped up and actually landed behind me and far enough to the right that it rolled onto the green we’d just left.
But I blamed the driver, snapping it over my knee.
This amused the hell out of the guy from the Golf Channel, and terrified the guy from the USGA, for the USGA is the keeper of the Great Game of Golf, and the Great Game of Golf is gentlemanly, and a gentleman does NOT break his clubs.
As for the hobo bindle, the handkerchief arrived with a Poison record. It’s a Bret Michaels special. It was tied in place during one of the many moves about the office that was required for better journalistic feng shui. Or something.