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