After working at GD for a month and a half, I've not only learned a lot about publishing, but I've also been able to polish my golf game on some excellent Connecticut golf courses -- mainly thanks to a longstanding GD practice called "summer Fridays."
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Golf Digest adds an hour to the work day Monday through Thursday so that its employees can vacate the office by lunchtime on Friday, provided there is no crisis with a story or page layout. With the heavy lull of humidity in the air, most normal individuals would use such an afternoon off to retreat home to their air-conditioned abodes and catch up on some much needed R&R. What do the beautiful people at GD do? They race out of the office to neighboring clubs and courses, squeezing in as many holes of golf as daylight will provide. In the words of my mentor, deputy managing editor Alan Pittman, "We work hard, but we also play hard."
Well said, Alan. But I don't call that playing. I'd call it Type A overzealous behavior. But hey, I guess the best writers write about what they know best. And these people know golf. Scratch that, they're obsessed with it.
*Luckily for me, I've been invited along to different courses by different coworkers pretty much every Friday since I got here. And to say that I've learned a lot about the differences between Arizona golf and Northeast golf would be an understatement.
Aside from obvious things like lack of desert and a hillier terrain, Connecticut courses feature a lot more green vegetation than I'm used to from home. The wildlife is also vastly different.I once played a round at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, where a bobcat, rattlesnake and coyote decided to play through the fairway. I obliged. But not before feeding the coyote some of my pretzels. The squirrels, deer and occasional possums that populate the courses in Fairfield County don't seem very interested in my snacks.
The Boulders, probably one of my favorite desert courses and located in Carefree, Ariz., is one of a kind with imposing boulders stacked in teetering towers that encompass the greens like natural grandstands. And you can't beat a round after some monsoon desert rain. The smell of wet dirt and mesquite tree bark permeate the air. The very minimal but very welcome drop in temperature (a degree or two) also doesn't go unnoticed. A few years back, I played in the media day outing for the Accenture tournament at Dove Valley in Marana, Ariz. An hour and a half south of Phoenix, and about 10 degrees cooler, Marana has the highest number of saguaros per square mile than any other place in the world. The prickly giants line the hills along the fairway as if acting as forecaddies to wayward tee shots.
In Connecticut, there are no such hazards -- only thick rough and tall trees, and if you're lucky enough to be close to the shore, lots of water (so far, the best waterside course I've played here was Rye CC; I know, it's not technically in Conn., but it's close enough).
Aside from Rye, so far while working here I've played Aspetuck CC, New Haven CC, Tashua Knolls GC, Brownson GC, Rock Ridge GC and Rye GC. I've had a great time in each place, and it's been nice to be the beneficiary of GD's favorite Friday-afternoon pastime. But as my editor says, it's not just for fun -- it's editorial research.