A Hall of Fame career: Ed Hiscock

By |  December 23, 2021 0 Comments
Golfdom Group Publisher Bill Roddy (left) and Editor-in-Chief Seth Jones (right) attended the ceremony along with Hiscock’s wife, Pat. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

Hiscock was recently inducted into the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association’s Hall of Fame. Golfdom Group Publisher Bill Roddy (left) and Editor-in-Chief Seth Jones (right) attended the ceremony along with Hiscock’s wife, Pat. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

It was 1991 when Ed Hiscock accepted a job with Grounds Maintenance magazine. Little did he think at the time that he was embarking on a 30-year journey that would take him to two more industry publications — Golf Course Management (GCM) magazine and Golfdom — and then induction into the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association’s (TOCA) Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed upon him in September.

Golfdom chatted with the longtime editor-in-chief of GCM and recent editor-at-large for Golfdom, about his fond memories from his career, what he’s learned about his readers and who his favorite intern was.

Seth Jones: Ed, congratulations on being inducted into the TOCA Hall of Fame. Give me some background on your career and where you got your start.

Ed Hiscock: I had gone to graduate school at the University of Kansas. Then I did some newspaper and wire service work in Kansas City. Then I ended up at Grounds Maintenance magazine, as managing editor in 1991. Grounds Maintenance was for the people who maintained any kind of grounds or corporate entities, but also about 40 percent of our readership was superintendents.

Jones: Did you think at the time that your career path was set? That you’d be in this niche of golf course maintenance journalism for the rest of your career?

Hiscock: I had no idea how long I’d be in the market. Starting off (at Grounds Maintenance), the market was bifurcated since 40 percent were superintendents and the others were folks who managed the grounds. The opportunity at GCSAA came up, and it seemed like a good fit. I thought I knew the market.

Hiscock, Jones and Golf Course Management magazine’s Scott Hollister (with Teresa Carson in the foreground) when they all worked together for GCSAA in the 2000s. All four keep in touch and remain longtime friends. (Photo by GCSAA)

Hiscock, Jones and Golf Course Management magazine’s Scott Hollister (with Teresa Carson in the foreground) when they all worked together for GCSAA in the 2000s. All four keep in touch and remain longtime friends. (Photo by GCSAA)

Jones: What did you learn about readers over the years?

Hiscock: I realized that you don’t want to get in front of readers too far, and you can’t afford to get behind the readers. Basically, I learned that superintendents are pretty savvy about what is going on technologically. Technology is part and parcel of their daily lives. The way they wanted to consume the information that we had for them, we had to follow their needs rather than say, ‘Here, we’ll give you this package.’ As digital (media) took over, the main takeaway is they wanted to consume information however they could, whenever they wanted to, however they wanted to. The magazine had to offer all those platforms. We had to become “platform agnostic.” We couldn’t be concerned with being a magazine or a website. We had to be concerned with the content on all of those.

Jones: What were some of your favorite moments that stick out in your mind from your years working for GCSAA?

Hiscock: One of the things I remember the most, one of the first things I did when I joined (GCM), is I went out to do a story on a tribal golf course. I sent the story to the superintendent because I wanted to make sure everything was right. He called me and said, “The tribal elders would like to know … we’re 40 miles outside of town, and they’d like to know if you could make it 20 miles instead?” I wish I had that power.

Also coming to mind is 9/11. That was the 75th anniversary of GCSAA. We had a yearlong program in place. We were bringing members into the headquarters for a celebration that was supposed to happen on the 12th of September. I remember we had members who couldn’t get out of town because all the airports were closed. That will always stick out in my mind about my time at GCSAA.

There’s another one, you might have been involved, when the statue of Old Tom Morris was created to stand out in front of the headquarters. It took up residence for a while in the multipurpose room. It came time to get Old Tom to the stand where he was going to spend the rest of his life. We had about six guys like pallbearers carry Old Tom out the front door to the stand. I think you might have taken a picture of that, or you were one of the pallbearers.

Jones: That would be like me to volunteer to take the photo while you guys do the heavy lifting! Ed, you hired me as an intern in 2000, but you waited until a few years after I was full time to tell me that I was your second choice for that internship … your top choice turned down the job. What the heck? Did I interview poorly? Who was the top choice?

Hiscock: You know, you were so great at the job that it has completely been wiped from my memory. I just want you to know that you will always be the No. 1 intern in my heart.

Jones: That makes me feel better. Tell me this, how do you see the health of golf and, more specifically, the health of being in the industry of making magazines for people who work in the game?

Hiscock: It proves to me that after all this time if no one wanted something in print, you wouldn’t be printing Golfdom right now. This goes back to the mid ’90s, when I started at GCSAA, we were hearing all the time that print was near death. I think it was given about five years in the mid ’90s. Again it goes to don’t get out in front of your readers, don’t get behind them. You find out what they want. What they told us loud and clear was they wanted to consume what you have in every way possible. They want it on their phone, their laptop, their desk. I’m not as doom and gloom about print as some people are because it’s still around. Go to the grocery store and look at how many magazines there are. I doubt, Seth, if you’ve ever been in a superintendents’ office that didn’t have copy after copy of magazines on their desk, on the shelf. The evidence is there that magazines are going to be around for a long time.

Jones: What advice do you have for me and my team to have the kind of successful career in the industry that you had?

Hiscock: Never stop asking. Never stop asking about everything, all the time. Every time you’re out on the course, talk to all the people, not just the superintendent, talk to the assistant, to the crew. Ask them what they’d like to see. I know people get tired of surveys, but surveys are absolutely indispensable for letting you know what the readers want to see. Keep asking all the time. Never think that you know more about what your readers want than the readers do. That will set you straight real quick.

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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