AUTHOR : ALEX BLAIR
Alex Blair joined the Texas Links staff in 2007 after graduating from the University of Texas. At Texas, he covered sports and served as associate editor of The Daily Texan, one of the state's largest daily newspapers.
He has been a fan of golf ever since he watched Payne Stewart sink an improbable putt to win the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. When he's not pounding the pavement for the magazine, he reads any golf book he can get his hands on and enjoys playing his own 9-hole pasture golf course in Hallettsville...affectionally known as "Hallettsville National."
He brought the skills, enthusiasm, love for the game and work ethic that it takes to help us put out the nation's best local golf magazines, but in 2010 Alex decided to go back to school to get his law degree at Notre Dame.
When my journalism teacher told me she found a job for me writing about golf, was excited. It was the spring of 2006, and I was entering my final summer before graduation from the University of Texas. Golf is the most interesting sport to me because you're dealing with individuals. It's what I wanted to write about.
But when she told me about Houston Links, I was a little skeptical. A free, local publication? Please. I had seen plenty of those in my time. Ashcan stuff stacked in racks at grocery stores or restaurants. The only thing those kinds of rags were good for was getting newsprint on your hands. Readable? Ha! But, whatever. I needed some experience.
Well, here I am four years later getting wistful at my departure. Although I loved my work at the magazine, I've heard a new calling and will attend Notre Dame Law School this fall.
Little could I have known what a great ride it would be when I first started. The magazine was in its first full year of publication when I joined the staff as a summer intern. I use the term "staff" loosely. Back then, the magazine was Kevin Newberry, Kenny Hand and me working in Kevin's third-floor office.
Newspapers around the country are dying and, in the process, have all but eliminated local golf coverage. Kevin should be commended for seeing and filling the vacuum of serious golf coverage for millions of Texans who play and work in the game. Houston Links and DFW Links provide serious golf content that has educated, informed and entertained our readers for the past six years.
The history of the game is tied up in the people who play it. Because of Houston Links and DFW Links, Texas golfers 30, 50, even 100 years from now will be able to look back and know what the game was like today. I am honored to have been a part of that, and I thank Kevin for the opportunity.
In addition, I also take with me relationships I formed with people I covered and with whom I worked. There are too many to name, but I would be remiss in not naming all-time sweetheart Nez Muhleman. Nez and other local rules officials feel like colleagues. I have to single out John and Nancy Semander, Alli Jarrett, Sis and Loren Singletary, Jeff and Teri Lee, Jeff Kuhn, Dianne Overstreet, Doris Kalina and Cathy Holland for special thanks.
And who could forget the fine folks at the Texas Golf Association. Rob Addington, Ryan Finn and their team make it their business to improve amateur golf in this state. They can't be applauded enough. I also have to mention Chris Rowe and Eric Fredricksen at the magical Whispering Pines Golf Club. The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship has been my favorite tournament to cover, and anyone who wants to see golf at its finest ought to journey up for the next Spirit.
Thanks to the fine gentlemen of the Medalist Golf Association, who give us scores to try and emulate. Special thanks to Robert McKinney for all the great conversations and showing us how to treat the game with the respect it deserves. I walk when I play because of you, Rob. Also that hole-out on No. 18 at the City Senior Am was definitely "The Shot" of my tenure.
To Jackie Burke, Jr: Mr. Burke, I talked to you a handful of times and was always terrified. Thank you for your wisdom and support of amateur golf.
I've gotten to cover some incredible rising stars. I first met Stacy Lewis when she was a junior at Arkansas and now she's one of the best young Americans on the LPGA Tour. Her recovery from scoliosis is a lesson never to bow in the face of adversity.
And of course, Cory Whitsett. The first time I saw Cory was at U.S. Junior Amateur qualifying at Memorial Park in 2006. He got an unfavorable ruling after he bladed a chip over the green on the par-3 15th, then chipped in for par. Never give up on a hole.
The next year, I had the pleasure of being on hand in Missouri when he won the national championship. Cory, I can't wait to say, "I saw you when." Even if you are a Sooner fan and going to 'Bama. Ick.
Lastly and most important, my fellow Texas Links staffers. Mark Button, your hard work has been crucial in making the magazine what it is today, and your friendship has been a blessing. Kenny, thank you for all the kind words, confidence and sage advice...you old warhorse. Your rendition of "Texas Fight" haunts me. Seriously, though, stay classy.
Kevin, you've put exponentially more into this business than the rest of us. You've sacrificed a lot, but you've built something special and meaningful. I know there are great things in store for the magazines, and I'm sorry I won't be here to see it.
But I'm glad to have been part of the journey.