Martin Dempster: Not everyone appreciates press coverage

Have your say

The power of the pen, eh? Or should that be the tap of the keyboard in this age of new technology?

Last Friday, at the end of an enjoyable golf club dinner in Edinburgh, I was approached by a fellow guest, who wasted no time plucking out his mobile phone, pulling up a story online and asking: “Do you remember writing this?”

It was a report from July 2016 on the Edinburgh Summer League that appeared in The Scotsman’s sister title, the Edinburgh Evening News, and was nosed off on someone pulling off a 10&8 victory, a rare result at any level in the game.

Needless to say, of course, my inquisitor wasn’t the chap who’d registered that victory. Yes, you’ve guessed it, he was the player on the wrong end of that result and, by the looks of things, is still hurting more than 15 months on.

Yes, I did name him in that report but added that he had been the “unfortunate player to run into (for this purpose, let’s just call his conqueror Joe Bloggs) as he produced a dazzling display”.

Yet, as I stood there and listened to this person as he made some comments on that article, I got the feeling that he believed I had carried out a totally unprovoked character assassination on him, the result of which had been him hiding in a dark room since last summer just waiting on his chance to pounce unexpectedly on me.

As has always been the case throughout my career, I remained professional and we shook hands at the end of our discussion. I’ve got to admit, though, that this particular incident was on my mind over the weekend and here’s why.

In journalism, you are never going to please everyone all the time and that is especially the case when you are writing a regular column like this, which most of the time is on the big talking points in golf, both at home and abroad.

A few weeks ago, I pointed out, for example, the embarrassing state of Scottish golf at that time and, though it probably didn’t go down well in some quarters and things have improved significantly over the past month, it needed to be said.

The vast majority of my time, however, is spent providing positive coverage for Scottish golf and Scottish golfers, not just at the top level but right down to grass-roots, both in this newspaper and, even more in that respect, the Edinburgh Evening News.

Which is why I was fizzing inside when my fellow dinner guest said to me: “You are only interested in writing about the superstars.” Sorry, sir, but that really is complete and utter nonsense.

In trying to get my head round why he confronted me, I started to wonder if I had made an error in judgement by naming him due to the fact it had been such a heavy defeat. Not doing that would surely have been unprofessional, though.

What this individual doesn’t understand – and this is what has really got under my skin, I think – is that, in most places around the United Kingdom, the event he suffered that defeat wouldn’t have been reported because golf isn’t a priority in many newspapers these days.

It is in the Edinburgh Evening News, though, and most certainly is in The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday as well, while my colleagues at most of the other national and regional newspapers in this country also continue to provide valuable coverage of the game.

In comparison to English golf in particular, the Scottish game is analysed from top to bottom on a regular basis, reported on at every level and is done so in both instances by individuals – the likes of Jock MacVicar, the long-serving golf correspondent of the Scottish Daily Express, and Colin Farquharson, formerly of the Press & Journal but now editor of the scottishgolfview website – who care so passionately about the sport.

As I do and, though I get someone hurting from a 10&8 defeat, I really do wish more people in Scotland would wake up to the fact that golf receiving the level and spread of coverage it actually gets is something that should actually be appreciated and not used for an unsuspecting ambush.

In fairness, this was a rare occurrence and I know for a fact that the majority of the guests at the dinner in question do appreciate that point because I wouldn’t have been there otherwise. I certainly won’t be digging out a hard hat for such events in future and why should that be the case when the words on that keyboard always come from the heart?