No. 11 -- Twitter

October 21, 2009

Soon, perhaps, they will only be characters in fiction, made obsolete by Twitter. Dan Jenkins, Golf Digest's own 79-year-old Ancient Twitterer, had one in several of his golf novels who lugged around the deliciously perfect name, Smoky Barwood. And then there was Sidney Falco, a slippery sort brought to life by Tony Curtis in the 1957 film noir classic "Sweet Smell of Success." Press agents, they were, PR men, flaks -- the link between a star or star-wannabe and the public. Now, more and more celebrities are taking their message directly to the masses through Twitter -- and professional golfers are no exceptions.

When Stewart Cink won the British Open, breaking the heart of not only Tom Watson but about every golf fan on the planet not related to Cink, he posted a photo of the spoils of victory -- the sliver claret jug -- on Twitter. When John Daly decided his injured ribs had recovered enough to allow him to play in the upcoming Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship, he broke the news on Twitter. And when Morgan Pressel wants to update her fans about her breast cancer charity work, or just say she is out practicing, she takes to Twitter.

Dozens of PGA Tour and LPGA players, in fact, are now on Twitter. The information ranges from the banal -- what someone had for lunch -- to the revealing -- Daly playing in Australia, for example. Sometimes posts provide insight that raise more questions than they answer, as in the case of this series of posts by Suzann Pettersen during the June 11-14 McDonald's LPGA Championship, from which she eventually withdrew:

so tired, feels like ive played 36 holes,must be the medicin.glad i have a late tee time tomorrow, need all the sleep and rest i can get!!

unfortunatly i had to withdraw from the tournament . my body has been pushed way over the top. you always want to give it a go

but sometimes there is only so much you can do. i need rest, bloodtests done and some recoverytime at home. i will make sure iam ready when

come back.I think this is the first time i have pulled out ,i feel bad,but i have to listen to my body. i should maybe never have teed it up

Several things were made clear by Pettersen's posts: Something was going on physically or emotionally that was affecting her play; and she wasn't entirely grasping that whole 140-character thing. In any case, she returned after those posts to finish in the top-10 in five of her next seven events, including a victory at the CN Canadian Women's Open -- and never really said what was going on when she withdrew from the McDonald's. Perhaps just venting was all she needed.

‘Yayyyyyyyy golf is in the olympics!!!!:) this is the best thing that can happen to golf!!!’ -- Michelle Wie on Twitter

The main benefit players derive from Twitter is an immediate connection with their fans. This can also provide another platform on which to promote the various goods and services with which they have lucrative endorsement deals. That makes both the player and the sponsor happy, and it helps cement the bond between the player and the fan. The tweets help to humanize the celebrity.

This is how Michelle Wie, who traveled to Copenhagen as part of golf's presentation to the International Olympic Committee to get into the 2016 Summer Games, told the world her efforts were met with success:

Yayyyyyyyy golf is in the olympics!!!!:) this is the best thing that can happen to golf!!!

Here's a bit of atmosphere from life on the PGA Tour from Kevin Streelman at the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, as he hints at the pre-dawn (or all-night) activity in the casino:

Walking through the Bellagio at 5 am for a 7.09 tee time is wildly entertaining! Expecting more great weather here in Vegas. Need more BIRDS

And here is PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang reacting to this week's PGA Grand Slam of Golf:

Representing Asia for its first participation in the PGA Grand Slam...hope it won't be my last.!!!

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