Those of us who grew up reading “the long form” articles in periodicals like New Yorker, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times Magazine always enjoyed the half hour and a cup of joe it took to digest a full compilation of research and opinion on a current topic of interest. The trend today in the print media as well as the digital world is to give us stories in bite-sized doses that seem more like executive summaries than full conversations.
Other than a few specific websites and a bunch of individually supported blogs the art of covering an issue in sufficient depth to be informative seems to be fading in the rear view mirror. It is not that it cannot be done and maybe done even more effectively with the varied digital tools that are now at hand, it seems that the will of publishers and their dues paying advertisers to support long form writing is just not there.
This incredible article about Rickie Fowler, called “The Natural”, was written by D.J. Piehowski and presented on PGATour.com this week. It is a refreshing testimony to what can be done when the long form and the digital age intersect. An enlightening biographical look at one of the rising stars in our game comes to life as if in a documentary film with plenty of time for the reader to stop, reflect, and peruse related insights into this story.
The storied island green strikes fear in the hearts of contenders on SundayEmbed from Getty Images
To those who watched it on TV, Rickie’s come from behind win at The Players Championship last year was one of the exhilarating performances on the PGA Tour in the last five years. He came from eons back nine on Sunday, playing the final four holes birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie, to outpace all but Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner by the end of regulation. He then survived a three-hole aggregate playoff and eventually won in Sudden Death when he birdied the feared 17th Hole at TPC Sawgrass for the third time in about two hours.
Through the imaginative compilation of great research, clever writing, and supporting still photos, graphics, and live video Piehowski relates a riveting tale of Rickie’s rise to stardom. He says of Fowler, “the way in which he won, and the way he made it to the PGA Tour in the first place……As unorthodox as the story is, The Players also felt like another stop on the ride toward the inevitable. Fowler’s rise to the forefront of golf has always felt more like destiny than possibility”.
This enjoyable read is enhanced by a seamless presentation of correlated information from Fowler’s childhood, developmental years, and his early pro career in all modes the media has to offer. It seems to move magazine story telling from simple composition to elaborate production but does it in a digestible way that in no way seems overwhelming.
The only questions is what took it so long for this to happen and why aren’t we seeing this all over the journalistic spectrum.
Kudos to PGATour.com for committing the resources required to pull this off and D.J. Piehowski diligence in providing us with a new school long form version of Rickie’s story we could sink our teeth into.