This month's "5 Questions With..." segment welcomes one of the top golf writers in the game today: ESPN's Jason Sobel.
Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004 and continues to be a leading journalist on all things professional golf. You can follow Jason on Twitter @JasonSobel and you can read his live golf blog online at the ESPN Golf
And now, here are 5 questions with Jason Sobel:
1) Where did you receive your first set of golf clubs?
I really didn't play much when I was growing up -- and when I did, it was just messing around with some random, borrowed clubs. When my grandfather passed away during my freshman year of college, I inherited his old set of Yamaha irons (OK, I just took 'em, but pretty sure no one minded) and started playing more frequently. I still have them collecting dust in the corner of my basement, save for a sand wedge that was the unfortunate casualty of a temper tantrum after a long-ago four-chip. I felt so badly about busting one of my grandfather's clubs that I haven't slammed one in anger since.
2) Who did you look up to in the golfing world when growing up?
Again, since I wasn't a huge fan of the game until college, I'll bring up my grandfather once again. The only times I'd ever sit and watch a professional tournament was when he was around. I always thought he was a great player, because my grandparents' house was littered with trophies. It wasn't until a few years ago that I actually looked more carefully at them and realized they were all from the "C" Flight at his club! My grandmother -- who was also a good player in her own right -- is now 92, but still reads everything I write. Anytime I interview Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Gary Player, she tells me how proud my grandfather would have been.
3) What was the best golf tip you received when learning to play the game?
Well, I think we're all continually "learning to play the game," so I would include all tips I've received in with this question. The one I think about most, though, happened to come from one of the best instructors on the planet. You know how most people will offer a tip of, "Don't swing too hard"? Well, that's not exactly true. Hank Haney has explained to me in detail on multiple occasions that swing speed generates power. And while a golfer may not want to swing "hard," the faster he comes through the ball, the further it will go. It's simple physics. So anytime someone tells you to slow down your swing, don't listen. You can swing better, but don't swing slower.
4) If you could play a match against anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
I have some very good friends who always provide worthy foils on the course. Most of 'em are named Matt, strangely enough. We usually play the standard 1,000-dollar Nassau, which usually gets the attention of any playing partners that have joined us. Of course, no one has ever paid up, but I'm just waiting until the day I win big and insist on collecting. And believe me, there's nobody's money I'd rather win than that of one of my buddies.
5) What is the most annoying golf term used on television today?
I recently heard an analyst proclaim that "it was an advantage to be as close to the hole as possible" when discussing a certain approach shot. I thought that made a lot of sense. I'm also partial to the "Get in the hole!" guys, but only on tee shots for 600-yard par-5 holes when it's otherwise dead quiet. Where do they find these people? I actually think that one is kind of amusing. I'd also love for someone to yell, "Get in the first cut of rough on the left side, so you'll have a good angle to lay up with your second shot!" But hey, that's just me.
Many thanks again to Jason for taking the time to join ChicagoDuffer.com's segment this month. Be sure to check in each month for a new guest from the golfing world!