Ron Sirak: Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

An in-depth look at Golf Digest and Golf World senior writer Ron Sirak, winner of the 2015 PGA of America Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism.

Released on 4/15/2015

Credits

Executive Producer: Golf Writers Association of America

Transcript

00:00
(light mellow music)
00:08
PGA comes to Southern Hills in 1994,
00:11
and I called our sports writer in Oklahoma City and said,
00:14
I've never met Ron.
00:16
What does he look like?
00:18
How am I gonna recognize him?
00:20
And he said,
00:20
Just look for someone who appears to have
00:23
just returned from protesting the Vietnam War.
00:25
(light upbeat music)
00:40
I always viewed Bob Dylan as a essentially a journalist.
00:43
And if you look at his songs,
00:44
he's one of the great first line writers
00:46
in the history of music.
00:47
The road north from Kigali follows a path
00:49
likely cut by tribesmen a 1,000 years ago.
00:52
And that's the way you write journalism,
00:54
is you gotta hook people with your opening sentence,
00:56
your lead, and Dylan did that.
00:58
Plus he wrote about, he wrote about issues,
01:01
he wrote about life.
01:02
When people ask me why I became a golf writer,
01:06
my answer is always,
01:07
I'm not a golf writer.
01:09
I'm somebody who writes about people
01:10
who happen to play golf.
01:12
If it wasn't for you,
01:13
this western Pennsylvania boy wouldn't be here today.
01:16
Oh, I won't say that.
01:17
(mellow music)
01:26
He comes from a background of
01:28
alternative news, newspapers,
01:30
and then most importantly, the Associated Press,
01:33
where he covered everything.
01:35
He didn't start covering golf until he was 45.
01:37
Just a very, very
01:39
well-grounded foundation in real journalism,
01:42
and has put it to great use in golf.
01:45
Ron, more than any other person,
01:46
was responsible for reshaping the AP covers golf.
01:51
He really stepped back and took a broad look at it.
01:54
More attention to women's golf,
01:56
the business side of golf,
01:56
which had been completely ignored.
01:59
And a style of writing that
02:00
wasn't about scores on the board,
02:02
it was about things that he saw.
02:04
(dramatic music)
02:07
When we appreciate the past,
02:09
we gain a better understanding of the present,
02:12
and are more completely prepared
02:13
for the challenges of the future.
02:15
(mellow music)
02:17
I was 15 when my father died.
02:20
My mom worked two jobs.
02:21
She was a welder from seven in the morning
02:23
to 3:30 in the afternoon.
02:25
And then she was a cleaning lady in an office building
02:27
from six at night to nine at night.
02:29
And I think when I started to
02:32
meet some of the LPGA founders,
02:35
I saw a lot of my mom in them.
02:36
They were feisty, tough, determined women,
02:41
who weren't getting the due they deserved,
02:43
and I was always attracted to that.
02:45
I'm always going to align with the underdog.
02:48
(mellow music)
02:51
Certainly a champion of the game, and for LPGA,
02:54
and just women's golf in general.
02:56
He just has an amazing passion,
02:58
and he's just extremely knowledgeable,
03:01
and he just loves it from the bottom of his heart.
03:05
Shortly after the Colonial Event,
03:07
Ron Sirak, the golf writer and friend, was quoted as saying,
03:14
Annika is no longer a female golfer,
03:17
She's a golfer.
03:21
That's truly all I ever aspired to be.
03:24
Thank you very much. (audience claps)
03:29
Ron has always tried to give the LGPA tour
03:32
a lot of recognition.
03:32
He's been tremendous.
03:34
He always had really good questions,
03:36
which I liked to do interviews with people
03:38
that asked me something different,
03:41
and he was always able to do that.
03:42
The first time I remember thinking,
03:45
Ron sees things and hears things,
03:48
and asks things differently, was at Colonial,
03:51
when Annika played in the Colonial.
03:53
You're looking for a coauthor,
03:55
and I said to Pia,
03:56
Ron's the guy.
03:57
It was always our words and our stories,
03:59
but he'd make it just come alive,
04:02
and like fun to read, interesting to read.
04:05
And then from his knowledge of the history of the game,
04:07
he would add a lot with stories and things.
04:10
So he's just like a master, so creative,
04:14
really an artist of understanding the game,
04:16
understanding the material,
04:18
and then his skills of writing.
04:20
They don't care what you know,
04:22
until they know that you care.
04:24
And that sums up Ron, because he cares about things,
04:27
he takes it to that deeper level.
04:29
(dramatic music)
04:35
It's the most important story that I've done.
04:38
It's the story in which I felt the greatest pressure
04:41
to get it right.
04:43
I really felt that I couldn't let these people down,
04:45
both the people of Rwanda,
04:47
and the Golf for Africa people,
04:49
and the World Vision people.
04:51
I wanted to do a good job for all of them.
04:54
(mellow music)
04:57
Probably the number one trait of Ron,
04:59
in everything he does, is passion.
05:02
And he didn't go over and write a story
05:04
about women's efforts in Rwanda,
05:06
he almost embedded himself.
05:08
That was a great story because it honestly
05:10
didn't have a lot to do with golf,
05:12
it was more about the life of the golfer's who had
05:15
given themselves to this philanthropic enterprise
05:17
of helping Rwanda.
05:20
It was really a window into the soul of golfers,
05:23
and in particular women golfers.
05:27
When I read the story, I was very excited.
05:29
I have to say I was tearful,
05:32
because it was moving and it really
05:36
captured what we had experienced.
05:39
And also, it was so heartfelt.
05:42
Get involved, so something, Kings says when asked
05:44
what she would tell people about Rwanda.
05:47
It was just very emotional, to be honest,
05:49
for me to read this story.
05:51
In the land of a 1,000 hills,
05:53
there are a million dreams.
05:55
It stands to this day,
05:57
uniquely as one of the great golf stories.
06:00
(mellow music)
06:02
(upbeat music)
06:06
Everything I've ever learned,
06:08
and everything that I do now,
06:10
is a direct result of Ron.
06:12
He is my mentor, and always will be.
06:16
He got it fast,
06:17
he got it fair,
06:19
and he got it right.
06:20
The greatest single grow-the-game program
06:22
golf's ever had is Arnold Palmer.
06:24
Well, thank you.
06:25
He's a very kind, gentle man.
06:27
He's very aware of what has
06:29
happened in golf over the years,
06:32
and he has written it very well through the years.
06:35
And certainly been very complimentary to the game,
06:38
and to a lot of us who are involved in the game.
06:42
Ron, in my opinion, is one of the good guys.
06:45
I think that you really can sit down and talk with him,
06:48
and know that, you know, what you said
06:51
to him today in confidence
06:53
is not going to end up in a newspaper tomorrow,
06:54
or a magazine.
06:55
I always look forward to an interview,
06:58
and knowing he's ended up with a good product.
07:00
When you sit down with Ron,
07:02
if you say something,
07:03
he's gonna write it as you meant it to be.
07:06
And that's a very comforting thought,
07:08
whether you're a politician, a businessman or an athlete.
07:12
(piano music)
07:25
This recognition by the PGA of America,
07:28
the reaction that I had
07:32
from writers and tour officials and players,
07:36
when I had my heart surgery,
07:38
has made me have not only a greater appreciation
07:41
for what I have accomplished,
07:44
but I think a greater realization.
07:47
I didn't realize that as many people
07:50
felt the way about me that they do,
07:53
and that's meant a lot.
07:55
(mellow music)
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