As you may have read, I am writing a book. God put it on my heart to remind the world that there is more going on than just those awful headlines that tend to get most of the attention.
Yes, there is a bit of an obligation to cover terrible events. Yes, some people want to hear about sad things going on in this world. But, in MY TRAVELS, I hear quite the opposite. So, this book is hopefully a long-form version of my daily On The Road segment -- a look at uplifting things done by incredible people that will hopefully make you smile. Check out this sneak peak at the book's introduction below. Happy reading.
It’s a world-class golf course and the anticipation is nearly over. Streamsong Black opens to the public on Friday, September 29. I had yesterday circled on my calendar for WEEKS. I got to play the course before it opened and I was like a fat kid at an all-you-can-eat candy buffet.
Was it worth the wait? Heck yeah. I experienced the Polk County resort’s third course on Monday along with other journalists and golf insiders from across the country. The opening of Streamsong Black, much like the audition Streamsong’s Red and Blue courses received a few years ago, was a homerun. The course is designed by world-renowned course architect Gil Hanse and his team. He has designed dozens of courses around the world including the course that played host to the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
The first thing that caught my attention was the view. From inside the sleek clubhouse, called The Bone Tavern, which is glass on all sides, you can see the spectacular layout that Hanse and his team built on old mining land owned by the Mosaic company. The landscape looks nothing like any other courses in Florida, aside from the neighboring Blue and Red runs on property.
The major difference between Black, Red and Blue is that Black stands alone. Red and Blue are intertwined and sight lines from both courses provide directives for shots on the hole you’re currently playing. On Black, Hanse had to be a little creative to provide dynamic shot points for players. The most notable of these features is the rusting, metal windmill that is perched behind the punch bowl green on No. 9.
The hole isn’t a long one – driveable for longer hitters – but the flag is totally hidden from view from the tee. I got an idea for where I would need to play my approach by looking at a diagram on the tee that displayed the pin placement up ahead. The windmill in the distance is the target line for the tee ball. A well-placed shot would give the player a chance to flip a wedge into the hidden green. I, unfortunately, sprayed my shot right. I had to play a 135-yard wedge into the punchbowl from some loose, sandy, native terrain. It’s all there is on edges of fairways. You won’t find traditional “rough” on Black. The only way to know where your second shot has landed is to climb the hill in front of the green and look down into the putting surface.
It was a very fun hole. I enjoyed it more than any other on the course. Admittedly, it’s the designer’s favorite hole as well.
Black’s style is described as “minimalistic” and plays as a par-73 thanks to five par-5s. The lengths vary widely on each, which gives players plenty of scoring opportunities. The back nine features dual green complexes on hole 13 and an infinity green on 17. The round concludes with a closing par-3.
The practice facility, dubbed The Roundabout, offers several putting areas and a full-length range. The Gauntlet awaits players on the practice green. The resort describes the 2-acre putting green as a “challenge” for all players. The Streamsong Resort now offers “non-traditional ways” to play, including 6-hole, 9-hole and 12-hole options.
On the food side, I was very impressed. The Bone Tavern has a 32-seat bar and served up a pretty great bunch for players. I ate a potato and sausage hash that was hidden under perfectly scrambled eggs. The menu is a big draw. I ate with the clubhouse designers... GREAT guys from Tampa. They did a wonderful job. The wood is burnt Japanese cedar. Who knew there was such a thing...
I walked the course. All players will be required to walk for the first few months. It was very hot but for anyone who has played either Blue or Red, you know that central Florida heat is a factor during your round. There is no shade because there are no trees on the courses.
Regardless, I will be back to Black.
I had a mini-debate on Twitter today over the motives behind donating to Hurricane Harvey. If you can donate, please do. It will help the hundreds of thousands of displaced people who had their lives torn apart by one of the biggest storms to ever hit the United States. It was simply devastating. There is no other way to say it.
That said, if you’re donating, don’t announce it. There is no reason to brag on your donations. It’s unnecessary. It’s reeks of self-promotion. It’s also unbiblical.
I brought up the first four verses of Matthew chapter six in our online discussion.
Matthew 6:1-4 (NIV)
1 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
That’s my stance on publicly announcing what a great thing you’ve done for others.
Now, celebrities using their platform to urge others to vote? I’m good with that. Just don’t do it to gain public praise. What Houston Texans star J.J. Watt has done, raising $11+ million in relief efforts, is fantastic. He’s using his platform as a pro athlete to stand up and serve as a bullhorn to the country, pleading for help for his city. Now, if he was bragging about all the amazing sums of money HE donated, I’d have more of a problem with that.
One of the guys I was discussing this with suggested that Matthew 7 would apply here, too. I couldn’t agree more.
The motives with which we broadcast our comings and goings online are important. In this age where our lives' highlight reels, a.k.a. social media, play such a huge part in the way we view each other, it’s vital that we choose to showcase ourselves in a way that promotes God, not ourselves.
If you can afford to donate, please do. There are people who need the help. Just don’t go bragging about how great you are for doing so.
Guess what? I’m writing a book.
I never thought I would get the opportunity to add ‘author’ to my bio but I’m determined to do it. I got the feeling I needed to write this book while on vacation in the mountains of North Carolina this summer. Over the Fourth of July holiday, my wedding anniversary by the way, I explained to a few new friendly neighbors what I did for a living. I got the expected line of comments and questioning:
“Isn’t it hard working in the media?”
“Do you have to report on murders and stuff?”
“I would hate that job.”
I already knew what the perception of local and national news/media outlets were from my every day encounters with interviewees. People don’t really like news. They don’t consume it because they think it’s depressing. It’s a grim, bleak outlook thanks to a number of factors.
I, then, was given the chance to explain to these new friendly neighbors how I fit into the media world.
I get to do the two-minutes of happy news each day that uplifts your spirit and reminds you that there is good stuff going on in the world besides those murders, robberies, natural disasters and Presidential tweets you’re bombarded with each night. The world is far brighter than it’s made out to be in the newspaper, TV and online.
I hope that my daily human interest segment On The Road is a breath of fresh air in a world full of smoggy media pollution. Now, not all media and news coverage is awful and dreary. Many stories are encouraging. I wanted to write about my slice of journalistic responsibility and how my faith compass has helped guide me to present stories in a Godly manner.
I am still working on a title. I think the words On The Road will feature prominently somehow. I am feverishly working on this book every day and hope to complete it by the end of 2017.
Life seems dark and hopeless if you only plug in to a dark and hopeless source. If you choose the bright, shining, uplifting one instead, you’ll find that life can be more exciting than you ever imagined. Hopefully, my two minutes each day is a reminder of that.
Beer, football, Hooters and cereal are in big trouble if you believe this trend.
Recent data would suggest that millennials don’t care much for these things anymore. At least not in the way that they have traditionally been consumed.
I know plenty of millennials. Heck, I technically am one. I was born in 1985 and squeezed right into the very top end of the age division as one of its oldest members. I have read that the Millennial-age began in 1984. If so, I barely qualify.
But, knowing many millennials, I think I can speak to what they do and do not like. Both of my siblings are millennials. My wife coaches high school kids. I know for a fact that they like Instagram, beaches and artsy-farsty things that are boutique-y in nature.
Also, they (ahem, we) like anything labeled “organic”.
Apparently, beer is out. So is football. If that’s the case, then Sundays will be freed up for more church and family visits to the park. I’m not sure if millennials are choosing to spend their newfound free time in those places. Perhaps that data will be scrounged up in the next survey.
The things on this list that surprise me:
Fabric softener. Do you not do laundry, millennials?
Cereal. Do you not like Frosted Flakes?
Diamonds. Do you not want engagement rings?
Listen, I get that lifestyles are different for younger people. They are in the beginning stages of being able to spend their discretionary income and choosing entertainment choices that are faster and cheaper. I understand the delay in homeownership and thus the subsequent decline in home improvement stores.
But bars of soap? You dirty millennials need to wake up and clean up your act.
Then tweet about it.
Hey Odell… please shut up.
Your comments the last few days have been, shall we say, missing the mark.
I understand you’re talented. I get it, you score a lot of touchdowns. I totally am not surprised that you want to be the highest paid player in the NFL.
But, dude. Some of these quotes? You need to realize who is going to hear these comments. More importantly, you need to realize how these comments are going to land with your fans.
He recently told the Huffington Post: “I think that we should make more money, personally.” The comment came during an interview in which he pointed out that pro baseball, hockey and basketball players earn more on average than NFL guys despite the large disparity in injuries due to violent, physical contact.
That is, in fact, all true. There is no disputing that fact. He also added that he wanted to be the highest paid NFL-er.
Again, I have no problem with that.
But, today, when chatting with NYC media, he said this:
“There are people in the NFL who deserve that”, talking about making absurd NBA-type salaries. “We put ourselves through a lot. We deserve it.”
That’s where I chime in with a resounding, “shut up”.
(FYI, this is Beckham's fourth year of pro football for the New York Giants. His rookie deal guaranteed him $10.4 million over the first four years.)
First of all, you only “deserve” what you can negotiate in life. Your agent will take care of that for you. Secondly, nobody “deserves” $10, $20, $30, $40 million per year to play football. Oh, you’ll get it because collectively we’re entertainment gluttons who are starved for football in this country. We bet on it. We buy 80-inch televisions so we can scream at it. We live-and-die with Sunday’s results. Monday is ruined (for a lot of people) if Sunday doesn’t bring a victory.
But, that doesn’t mean you “deserve” anything.
NFL ticket prices skyrocket each year. Season-tickets are unaffordable for most “Average Joes”. The game experience is becoming increasingly more corporate. I’d imagine the Maryland father of three teenage boys, who works hard as a middle school teacher, can’t swing a $1,000 Sunday to get his boys tickets, food, shirts and hats at the stadium on top of parking in Baltimore to see the Ravens play the Jets in Week 4. It’s unrealistic to expect that father to hear your “we deserve more money” comments and not roll his eyes in a combination of disgust and disappointment.
A Social Security Administration report says “the national average wage index for 2015 is $48,098.63. Personally, I was surprised to read that it was THAT high. You think there are any firefighters out there who love the NFL? They earn about 48-grand per year in most parts of the county.
Electricians? $20 an hour.
Police officers? About $50,000 a year.
Teachers? MAYBE $40k.
The average adult in this country would need about 50 years to earn the guaranteed cash Odell earns in just 16 Sundays. And remember, he’s not even one of the highest paid guys yet. Multiply that annual American’s salary by 45 years, the amount of time most people will work in a lifetime, and that’s $2.25 million.
Oh! That’s still less than Odell’s guaranteed rookie deal money over a 16-week season.
Even for the veteran player’s minimum salary in the NFL, which is about $400,000 per season, most Americans just cannot relate to that kind of wealth in their bank accounts.
I get it. You want to be rightly compensated for being incredible at what you do on the field. I’m all for that. You should get paid well. I think everyone should earn as much money as they can so that they can in turn become as big of a blessing to their friends and family as possible. But, if you’re trying to convince the rest of the country, your fans, that you don’t get enough money for playing a game that many of those same fans would trade their left arm to play for just one weekend, it’s going to be tough.
You want more money? Talk to your agent about it. GET PAID… but don’t do it in public where the die-hard Dolphins fan working two jobs just to by pencils and paper for his daughter’s first grade class has to hear it. It won’t relate. It won’t connect. It will make you sound like an ungrateful punk.
Don’t worry, Odell, Your $18 million per year is coming when it’s time for your next contract. My advice for now? Enjoy the spoils of your freak athleticism and fame now. Someday, those will all be over and you may need a regular-paying job like everyone else.
Thanks for nothing, Rickie Fowler.
Oh, you are one of the most popular players on Tour… but was it too much to ask for you to just win The Open Championship?
You’ve ruined what would have been one of the greatest golf gambling… heck SPORTS gambling… stories of all-time.
Jordan Baker (a.ka. @OfficialBakes) ... no, not of Great Gatsby fame… is a pro golfer from London and one gutsy gambler. He wagered two pounds at one-million-to-one odds that Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka, Rickie and Justin Thomas would all win majors in 2017 and halfway home it looked like young Mr. Baker was golden.
Sergio slipped on the green jacket. Brooks won at Erin Hills and Jordan could almost taste the sweet $2.5 million bucks coming to him if these two guys held up their end of the bargain.
But another Jordan ruined it all. Actually, Rickie, you ruined it all. Maybe that’s why Spieth stiffed you on the congratulatory high-five while walking off the green on 18 with the 3rd leg of the grand slam under his belt…
Tied for 22 Rickie? Come on man…
Jordan Baker was counting on you! Oh , and now… he’s just two pounds lighter.