During our ‘The Thing About Golf’ podcast interview back in February, Mat Goggin said something which remains front of mind whenever the topic of the game’s image among the non-golf public comes up.
Talking about the Development Application process for his Seven Mile Beach project in Tasmania, Goggin noted that those on all sides of any debate needed to discuss matters ‘in good faith.’
While that conversation was specifically about the DA process for the Crown land upon which Seven Mile Beach sits, the principle also applies when thinking about golf’s representation in mainstream media.
Golf was in the spotlight again last week with a Sydney Morning Herald story about Royal Sydney Golf Club claiming $2.8 million in JobKeeper allowances during the pandemic.
The inference of the story was that the club should repay some or all of the money because of its healthy financial standing.
"Golf as an industry is almost as complex as the game itself and in a landscape where not a single daily newspaper in the country has a dedicated golf writer, it is little surprise reporting of the game lacks depth." - Rod Morri.
That’s a legitimate question and one that all businesses which benefitted from the scheme should face.
But while none of that has anything to do with golf, the impression left with the non-golf public certainly does.
To those who don’t play, Royal Sydney (‘Sydney’s most elite golf club’, according to the headline) as it’s presented in the media is all too often what they believe all golf looks like.
While the game has itself to blame in many ways for its poor image, there are, as always, two sides to that story.
Golf as an industry is almost as complex as the game itself and in a landscape where not a single daily newspaper in the country has a dedicated golf writer, it is little surprise reporting of the game lacks depth.
While golfers innately understand the difference between public and private models and the different demographics involved, for those on the outside it’s all just ‘golf’.
Royal Sydney and Moore Park might as well be the same place for many, a fact that does the game no favours.
Not for the first time I readily admit these issues are golf’s to proactively work on. It is not the job of non-golfers to educate themselves about golf.
However, it is less than helpful when the only reporting about golf that appears in the mainstream press is when an Australian wins on Tour or a wealthy club like Royal Sydney presents as an easy headline target.
One of the main jobs of any mainstream media outlet, and especially newspapers, is to report in a fair and balanced manner.
That means not only within individual stories but presenting an overall balanced picture.
It’s legitimate and right to report on Clover Moore wanting half of Moore Park to be closed but fairness also demands coverage of the role that facility plays in the lives of those who work there and use it.
Intellectual discussion about issues must be held, as Mat Goggin said, in good faith on both sides.
And I’m not convinced that’s always the case with mainstream media and golf.