A tour of characters, in 140 characters.
I follow other golfers on Twitter. It’s not that I’m interested in how the flight is going for Ian Poulter’s nanny, or what Michelle Wie ate for lunch, or how many exclamation points Keegan Bradley can squeeze in after a Red Sox win. Nor is it a need to get closer with my friends – those guys I’m going to see on the range or in the locker room every week. I follow because it’s my job.
Here’s the deal: I have sponsors who are very good to me, and so I feel pressure to promote their brands on social media, which means promoting myself. By nature I’m a quiet guy. My personality doesn’t lend itself to the form, so I’m always trying to learn from the players who do it well. The three golfers I mentioned might write a lot of throwaway posts, but they’re pros at sharing their lives with fans. For modern athletes, that openness is becoming just as valuable as winning. At least that’s the message I’m getting from my agent and other business people.
Do I feel like a dork each time I post a picture of my new shoes? Yes. Or a link to some contest the resort that backs me is running? Absolutely. There’s a real art to being genuine and not sounding like a commercial, which I haven’t mastered yet. Honestly, the 140-character limit overwhelms me. When I can’t say everything, I feel like an idiot saying only something.
Also, I have a wife and kids. When I’m with them, I want to disengage from golf completely. Yet when I’m off the course is when I’m most likely to look at my phone. I don’t want to read what Jordan Spieth just said in the press conference, or scan the reaction to Aussie Steve Elkington’s latest insult, because it just brings me back to work. And on that matter, Elk’s a good dude. I think he occasionally falls into the unwise habit of tweeting after happy hour at the pub. Whenever someone makes a mistake and the whole world righteously piles on, as they did to Ted Bishop, that mob mentality bothers me.
My favourite irony is that the players who complain most about a lack of privacy are often the same ones who are most active on social media. There are several “humble” golfers out here who’ll tell you over a beer they just want to play the sport they love without being a celebrity. Two days later, you’re looking at their selfie partying with some actor or the car they just bought.
My enthusiasm for social tends to wane if I’m playing badly. I’d be lying if I said the reason wasn’t partly jealousy. If other guys are playing really well or taking cool holidays, my first reaction is usually a negative self-comparison. If I’ve just missed three cuts, Rickie Fowler laying on the beach might rub me the wrong way. And I like Rickie.
But if there’s one thing that brings me back, it’s going to my home club after a four-tournament stretch and having mates come up to tell me how hard they laughed at a certain tweet, or ask me a specific question about another. It’s like they were with me the whole time and it’s easy to forget that. Yes, it can be lonely sitting in an airport typing some tweet that feels stupid, but there are a lot of good people out there who’ll read it.
Speaking of my home club, there is this one annoying member who always asks me about Rory McIlroy. It’s like, mate, I don’t have time for you to ask me about other players. If you want to know what he’s up to, just follow him on Twitter.
—with Max Adler