Masters Notebook: GWAA Dinner Recap

By |  April 10, 2015 0 Comments

(L to R) Seth Jones, Steve Mona and Rees Jones at the 2015 GWAA dinner in Augusta, Ga. Photo by Brandon Haddock

I’m a proud member of the Golf Writers Association of America (GWAA). Some who know me well (especially former GCSAA board members of the 2000s) know that I’m also on an 0-for-lifetime streak of winning a GWAA writing award.

Maybe next year. Or maybe never. At least I’ve had better luck with the Turf and Ornamental Communicators annual awards. Sigh…

But there’s always some great schmoozing that goes on during the cocktail hour. My comrade again this year was E-Z-GO’s Brandon Haddock, an excellent Robin to my Batman (or vise versa, depending on your point of view.)

We chatted with the soon-to-be-retired Ken Mangum, CGCS at Atlanta Athletic Club. Ken reports that he’s looking forward to fishing and golfing more, starting May 1 (congrats, Ken!) We also saw World Golf Foundation CEO Steve Mona chatting with Golfdom editorial advisory board member Rees Jones. Both were kind enough to take a quick photo before the event started. Steve and I share a dislike in that we both don’t like being photographed with people taller than ourselves. Steve has to deal with that a lot more than me though, especially considering his son-in-law is 6’11”. (What, you thought I was going to make a short joke? No way. When it comes to power players in the industry, Steve Mona stands tall!)

We spoke with Associated Press golf reporter Doug Ferguson, who graciously served as the keynote speaker of the 2014 Golfdom Summit. Doug said that he enjoyed our group, and has managed to keep in touch with Josh Lewis at Chambers Bay, in anticipation of this year’s U.S. Open. Speaking of the U.S. Open we also caught up with new USGA’s new director of communications, Adam Barr, who has been a big help in working with our partners over in Far Hills, N.J.


Rory McIlroy accepts player of the year award from the GWAA.

Making connections — that’s what this is all about, right?

Aside from the schmoozing during the cocktail hour, seeing the player of the year awards handed out is pretty cool. This year’s winners were Rory McIlroy, Bernhard Langer (Champions Tour), Stacy Lewis (LPGA) and the nice guy award (ASAP Sports/Jim Murray Award) for being a good interview went to the well deserving Jim Furyk.

A few funny moments: it was mentioned in Bernhard Langer’s introduction that his childhood nickname was “Fritzy.” Langer took the stage and shot down that idea right away. “My uncle had a horse named Fritzy. My nickname was ‘Blitz.’ Please don’t forget that.”

Langer told the story of when he won the Masters in 1985 and he was caught on camera at an inopportune moment. Upon seeing the scoreboard behind No. 9 green, a hot mic caught him as he uttered to his caddie, “Jesus Christ, how am I four strokes behind Curtis Strange?” Following the tournament he received stacks of mail from angry viewers condemning him for using the Lord’s name in vain.

When he won again in 1993, it was on Easter Sunday, and this time around, he was a Born-Again Christian. When asked by Jim Nantz how it felt to win for a second time and if this one were less special or more special, Blitz explained that this one was more special, because it was on such a special day as the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Langer paused and said, “So I do believe I’m the only player who has used the Lord’s name on TV both very appropriately, and very inappropriately, when I’ve won here in Augusta.”

Jim Furyk, meanwhile, took the time to research Jim Murray and cited some of his favorite Jim Murray one-liners in his acceptance speech. Murray interviewed Furyk years ago, and the resulting story might be Furyk’s favorite article written about himself.

Furyk recalled when he was a rookie on the PGA Tour, he had to take part in a three-day rookie orientation. Part of the orientation was to warn the players about the media… that they would try to take advantage of the players, and that many of the journalists were manipulative and eager to only write about negatives.

Furyk suggested to the person hosting the orientation, “If this is all true, shouldn’t you be having this class with the media instead of with us?”

To say the least, his idea was not met favorably by the instructor.

In my own personal experience, I can say I was happy with all the winners the GWAA named, and that all the winners were people I cast a vote for. Furyk, especially, is a favorite of mine. I’ve interviewed him a few times, most notably at Merion and Atlanta Athletic Club. It was at AAC that I pressed Furyk a little on a question, and though he got a little frustrated with me, he gave me the sound bite I was looking for.

So hats off to the GWAA for hosting another fantastic dinner, and thanks to those players who always take the time to be there in person to accept their awards. And Rory, you’re right – by becoming a two-time winner of male player of the year you’ve joined elite company. It’d be just fine with me if you became a three-time winner and came back to accept the award again in 2016.

Photos: Golfdom Staff

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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

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