Lorne Rubenstein era ends at the Globe

Lorne Rubenstein

One of golf’s greatest journalists, Lorne  Rubenstein, will now be a lot harder to find.

Last week, at the bottom of a column on Canadian Ryan Yip, Lorne added this line: “Note: This is my final piece for The Globe and Mail, where I started my column in 1980. I appreciate your reading my work, whether in print, or, more recently, mostly online.”

Lorne said today the Globe budget has no room for him as a freelancer. He said Shawna Richer, The Globe’s sports editor, offered to discuss some options, but he decided to shut it down.

This is Lorne’s second retirement from The Globe. In 2012, he announced he was done but an outpouring from readers caused him to reconsider. This appears final.

Lorne said his only plan for now is to continue writing a back-page column for SCOREGolf magazine, which appears five times per year. (He was SCOREGolf’s first editor, so it seems understandable.) You can also follow Lorne on Twitter, but as for long-form journalism, that’s it. The author of 13 books has no books in the works.

“I have zero plans. We’ll see what shakes out and see how I feel about not having a column. There’s nothing. That’s ok too. We’ll see,” Lorne said over the phone.

In our conversation, I lamented the demise of golf journalism generally. Golf magazines have dried up and the majority of North American newspapers have stopped using staff reporters to cover golf, relying instead on wire services.

“Time marches on. I have four grand children now,” said Lorne, 65. He noted his ambivalence in covering the 2012 U.S. Open was an important signal. “You have to be excited to write about a major.”

Frankly, long-time readers like me sensed Lorne’s lack of enthusiasm in covering the world of professional golf. I got the sense that it became like an obligation.

As an avid golfer and golf journalist who has also worked on the PR side of the industry, I will miss Lorne’s column in the Globe, where he’s appeared sporadically in the print edition in the last few years. He continued to blog on Golf Canada’s website through an arrangement with the Globe, but that arrangement ended Dec. 1.

The Internet has changed journalism for better and for worse. Unfortunately, top golf journalists such as Lorne have few vehicles to publish them and pay them. The upside is a democratization of ideas—anyone with a phone or laptop can be a journalist–but it’s also meant that readers must be much more discerning. Since 2008, many corporations have moved away from golf as a marketing vehicle, or greatly reduced their spending, which has shrunk outlets for golf journalism.

Many people in the golf industry grumbled that Lorne wouldn’t come to their media day or write about their new hot product. If Lorne wrote about something in the Globe, that’s because the story had relevance to his readers who were always his No. 1 priority.

Lorne is a towering intellect, possessed of excellent journalistic instincts, steadfast principles and dedication to getting it right. Mostly, I think what he loves most about golf is how it acts as a mirror for everyone who plays the game, including himself. Lorne—who might cringe at this as a cliché–writes about golf as a metaphor for life. Lorne, who earned his Masters degree in psychology, has always been fascinated by the game’s mental challenges. An excellent player himself in his younger days, Lorne is captivated by the exacting technique of the game and its free-flowing artistry.

As a Globe columnist, he always maintained a worldly perspective, and he could dispatch must-read, for-the-record columns that nailed the essential angle from a tournament within minutes of its conclusion. That’s what great journalists do and Lorne did it with The Globe for 33 years.

I found Lorne most compelling when he was writing about how the game affects people—how they struggle in trying to meet their goals and achieve their dreams, whether it was breaking a career-scoring barrier, enjoying the game after the death of a friend or family member, or making a living at it. Lorne was at his compassionate best reporting on the struggles of the eccentric Moe Norman while also spreading the word of his ball-striking genius to a world audience.

The entertaining prose and insights of his Globe columns made him the most influential golf journalist in Canadian history, helping him earn him spots in the Canadian and Ontario golf halls of fame and many writing awards.

Lorne also influenced a generation of Canadian golf writers, including me. Like many people, I read Lorne’s stuff in the 80s and early 90s, thinking this guy had the best job in the world. When I was struggling whether to leave a full-time journalism job to write about golf as a freelancer, I asked Lorne for advice. Essentially, he said, “do what you really want to do.”

That was quintessential Lorne. He nailed the news nugget of my story.

Writers become columnists because they feel compelled to say something, not to pontificate or get their two cents in. They are driven by their intuition and their heart.

It’s my sense that after enjoying some time away from journalism to just watch golf without having to think about a lead or angle, he will get his mojo back and want to write more frequently. The game and his readers will call to him, and his heart will listen.

Picture Source: Golf Canada

 

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a performance coach, an award-winning writer, Head Coach of the University of Guelph golf team and Mental Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey. He is co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and a leader in training in the ManKind Project. He gets all excited when he helps people tap into their brilliance.

Comments

  1. Great article from Lorne Rubenstein leaving the golbe/mail..I was just reading the article from Lorne Rubenstein(twitter-new winner northern trust-feb 22-2015) It was outstanding!!!! I cant find an email for lorne..Anyways,if i remember correctly,back in the day mr oconnor use to write for financial post(little golf section) maybe not,, this was a while ago

    take care
    jim sheridan,ottawa,ontario,golf course superintendent,anderson links golf club

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