Cover Story – Here’s to 25 Years!

Cover Story – Here’s to 25 Years!

Twenty-five years is a long time. It works out to 300 months, a little over 1,300 weeks, 9,131 days, 219,144 hours, 13,148,640 minutes and 788,918,400 seconds. 

In a quarter century, AVIDGOLFER Magazine has evolved, grown and expanded with the Metroplex golf landscape. In that time, AG has delivered hundreds of thousands of magazines to courses around the area, as well as some retail stores, and once upon a time, some doctors’ and dentists’ offices. AG has seen hundreds of loyal advertisers over the years, including long-time partners like Arcis Golf, Cindy O’Gorman, Invited Clubs (formerly ClubCorp), Heritage Ranch Golf Club, Crest Cars, the City of Euless, the City of Grand Prairie, Mercedes-Benz of Plano, the City of Arlington and Park Place Dealerships. Each has made appearances in hundreds of issues and is a huge part of the reason we are able to continue to bring you the publication each month. We wouldn’t still be here without your support.

Looking back at the first issue of AG is like being thrown in a time machine. There is an ad for Tierra Verde Golf Club, which was still a couple weeks from opening at the time. Tierra Verde also celebrates 25 years in 2023, and the property has aged like a fine wine. Hard to believe it has been a quarter century. There is also an ad for Texas Star Golf Course, which was also our first ever course review. Texas Star celebrated 25 years in 2022, and the course is just as good as it was on day one. 

The editorial in that first magazine features a story on Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano, who at the time was still a little more than six months away from becoming a Stanley Cup champion, solidifying his DFW sports immortality. Ironically enough, just a couple weeks ago, the Dallas Stars made the announcement that the organization was erecting a Modano statue outside the American Airlines Center. Congrats, Mike. We have come full circle together. 

Paul Earnest was also heavily featured in our first issue. If that name rings a bell, it’s because Paul is now the Director of Golf and Operations of Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco. Back in 1998, Paul was the Head Golf Professional at the Four Seasons Resort in Las Colinas and offered tips to AG readers on how to low-flight shots in the Texas breezes. In that same issue, Paul penned a column about his opportunity to play in the GTE Byron Nelson Classic and the PGA Championship (Paul was, and still is, a great stick). My, how the years have flown. 

Issue No. 2 featured another story by Paul Earnest titled “Why Tiger Didn’t Win” (a major) in 1998. At that time, Tiger was about 22 months removed from his dominant win (and first major) at The Masters. 

What happened to Tiger after that piece was published in February 1999? Well, he won the Buick Invitational just a couple weeks later. He then went on to win The Memorial, The Western Open, The PGA Championship, The WGC-NEC Invitational, The National Car Rental Golf Classic, and the WGC-American Express Championship. Tiger earned $6,616,585 in 1998 to lead the money list, while also winning Player of the Year, the Vardon Trophy and the Byron Nelson award. Oh, and after that 1999 season … he went on to destroy everyone in 2000, win 13 more majors, earn over a billion dollars in his career and became one of the most marketable and recognizable athletes in history. Clearly, he got fired up by AG questioning his lack of majors in 1998. You’re welcome, Tiger. 

Over the last 25 years, AG has featured plenty of celebrities and athletes on the cover. Michael Jordan, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Kathy Ireland, Jerry Jones, Kidd Kraddick, Brenden Morrow, Joe Pavelski, President George W. Bush and even Dr. Phil, as well as Burton Gilliam of Blazing Saddles fame.  

AG has also interviewed a who’s who of Dallas/Fort Worth golf royalty ever since its inception. From major winners Lee Trevino, Mark Brooks, Todd Hamilton, Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau (no, we still haven’t managed to get Jordan Spieth) to local favorites like Harrison Frazar, Paul Stankowski and Harry Higgs. AG has also been in the know on up-and-coming stars like Will Zalatoris and the Coody Twins, Pierceson and Parker. 

We’ve done the Luxury Issue, Gambling Issues, Travel Issues, Business issues and, of course, our annual Collector’s Edition. All of which have been well received. And our Best of Private in March and our Best of Public in November are the most viewed and sometimes controversial of the year, as we rank and rate every course in DFW. Every year we get emails and messages from readers and friends about how this course is better than that course and we screwed up. Hey, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and even as hard as we try to be fair, it can still be very subjective. But, the fact there is so much discussion about it means we’re doing something right. 

There is also one issue that never made it to print. The April 2020 issue couldn’t go to press because of the COVID shutdowns. We did publish it digitally, so you may have seen it in that format, but it is the only issue in 25 years that wasn’t available as a physical copy. 

And then, there was our famous Cart Girl of the Month. Not a day goes by where someone on the AG staff doesn’t get a question about where that feature went. As the magazine first launched, the Cart Girl of the Month became an AG institution. A local beverage cart girl was chosen each month from a local course, we took tasteful photos of them at their club or course and then did a simple Q&A with them about some of their on-course experiences and some of their future plans. All those young ladies were then compiled in one annual Cart Girl of the Year issue and one of them was bestowed that honor. 

As the social landscape began to change several years ago, we made the decision to pull the plug on that feature, but believe us when we say that readers still miss it. In fact, one of our best success stories is a former Cart Girl of the Month. Hope Beel has been on our cover three times now, which ties Mike Modano for the most all time. Hope was our Cart Girl of the Year for 2011 and appeared on the cover in December of 2012, then again as the focus of our fitness issue in May 2016, and once again earlier this year in February. Hope has gone on to great things, mainly as a designer and influencer, now boasting over 1.7 million Instagram followers. 

Other notable two-timers on AG’s cover include Pudge Rodriguez, Troy Aikman, Dale Hansen, Todd Hamilton, Brenden Morrow and Hank Haney. 

In 1999, AG gifted the DFW golf market with the tournament nobody knew they wanted, or quite frankly, needed. AVIDGOLFER’s inaugural Media Madness is what Craig Rosengarden credits for really launching AG to the forefront of the Dallas golf scene. This hodgepodge of local media personalities all competed in a tournament to see who would reign supreme on the course. This tournament helped pave the way for AG’s success. Susan Storey, who was the Editor of AG at that time, relives this experience on page 58.

As for some of the other Editors of the magazine, we reached out to them about their journeys running the greatest little golf publication in DFW. 

Robert Rodriguez ▶ Editor 2004-2014

I can honestly say that the 10 years I spent at AVIDGOLFER were among the best of my professional career. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that my first day with the company—as a staff writer – would lead to lifelong friendships and memories that I will forever cherish.

During my tenure, we had some moments that garnered national attention: Lisa Pavin and Tiger Woods covers, the Cart Girl of the Month features. Working at AVIDGOLFER definitely had its perks – not too many gigs allow you to play golf with Troy Aikman, “Pudge” Rodriguez, caddy for Jack Nicklaus, and befriend the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and some of the Metroplex’s most high-profile movers and shakers.

The best memories of my time at AVIDGOLFER, though, all center on the people that I worked with day in and day out. At some point every day, Rick, Craig and I would all convene in someone’s office to bounce story or cover ideas, or just to chit-chat. Water cooler talk, and in these times of video conferencing that vital part of business camaraderie is something I truly miss.

Jason, Laura, Steve and Amy were also a treat to work alongside–our office dynamic was anything but boring. A couple of times we all would get together on a weekend for a golf show or an AVIDGOLFER tournament, and the fun times just continued. Man, I miss those days – it really was a struggle to leave the crew in 2014.

I was an AVIDGOLFER fan before Craig hired me, and I’m an even bigger fan of the magazine now. Congratulations, Craig, on 25 years!  

Travis Measley ▶ Editor 2013-2018 

I was the Editor-In-Chief of AVIDGOLFER Magazine from September 2013 through late 2018 (the exact dates get a little fuzzy, as I transitioned over to running our junior tour operations while also overseeing the magazine for some time during the transition). In the summer of 2013, my wife and I were living in South Austin, and I was working for a Legal Resource firm doing technical writing and working as a freelance writer on the side for local Austin publications. I vividly remember coming across the job posting on a Texas A&M job board (my predecessor, Robert Rodriguez, and I are both Texas A&M graduates) and thinking “this job is perfect for me.”

It was a whirlwind couple weeks for our family when I got the job – we had purchased a home in Austin a few months earlier and my wife was about three days away from starting a new job teaching in AISD … and then everything changed and suddenly we were DFW residents, living out of boxes and embarking on something completely new. I can’t speak for Craig and the staff, but for me it was the best choice I’ve ever made, and the opportunity that changed my life.

As a journalist, the idea of working for (or running) a “regional” publication may not be the sexiest opportunity, but the second I got into this chair and realized that, as a small publication, I was afforded the freedom to operate things my way, make my own decisions and push the magazine in the direction that I saw fit (be it for better or for worse). As a staff we made some large-scale changes to the style and visuals of the magazine, especially on the covers – some of them worked really well, in my opinion, and some of them really, really didn’t. But, either way, I had so much fun getting to try new things and figuring out which ideas worked, and which ones didn’t.

Off the top of my head, I have very fond memories of producing our May 2014 issue, which is our annual Byron Nelson and Colonial PGA TOUR events preview. We had two covers that month (something we had never done before – a “Dallas” cover featuring Jane Slater, the then-CBS 11 sports anchor, and a “Fort Worth” cover featuring Gina Miller, a titan of DFW sports media. We also had an article that month about a very young and up-and-coming Dallas golfer named Scottie Scheffler. I should probably check on how that kid turned out …

But with the good comes the bad, and for me the bad came just a year later, in June 2015. Our cover story was a deep dive in the financial ups and downs of life as a financial golfer entitled “Swimming in Dough.” The story came out fine (I think), but the cover … it just wasn’t one of my better efforts. We put a model in a white, claw-foot bathtub and covered her with fake money. I look back on it now and just shake my head. It looks awkward and was waaaaay too on the nose. But, hey, that’s why you try things. It was a fun shoot, though.

I learned so much in my time as editor of AVIDGOLFER, and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to leave my mark on the publication. It’s still a magazine I pick up every month, and I’m proud of the direction it has taken since I moved on, and the quality is as good now as it ever was.

Eli Jordan ▶ Editor 2018-Present

People ask me all the time how I ended up editing AG. My answer should probably be something along the lines of: “Well, I majored in Journalism and played college golf, so it was a natural fit.”

But truth be told, my honest answer is I fell ass backward into it. I began doing on-air work at KTCK in 2013. I was given the opportunity to cover games (what we call chasing tape) and also handle Saturday morning ticker duties. Basically, the ticker is a 90-second sports update a couple times an hour during each show. As it happens, I was doing those updates during the TeeBox, which at that time was hosted by Craig Rosengarden and Rick Arnett. I always enjoyed rapping with them when I could pop on the air, but one Saturday in particular I heard Craig mention that they were looking for some help around the AVIDGOLFER office. 

At the time, I was making something nauseatingly low, like eight bucks an hour, so some additional income was something I was in desperate need of. I reached out to Craig a couple days later, and we had a meeting here at the AG office. He hired me a few days after that. 

At first, I was just handling some customer service-type stuff and helping with the Passbook (go buy the 2024 version today) fulfillment around the holidays. After a few months, Travis, who was Editor at the time, asked if I would be interested in writing a feature here and there for the magazine, specifically our monthly restaurant review. So, in the February 2017 issue, I penned my first piece for AG, a feature on Taco Heads in Fort Worth. 

A little over a year later in June 2018, Travis was taking over a role leading the Texas Junior Golf Tour, and another employee who was helping with the magazine moved on to another opportunity around the same time … so, that basically left me. So, off I went as the new editor of AG. 

Obviously, there were some growing pains, and I had to lean on Craig, Rick, Travis and Jason (our photographer and creative director) those first few months. But, overall, I think I learned quickly. 

A few of my favorites include the June 2019 issue with Jack Nicklaus on the cover. He was in town to help celebrate Dallas Athletic Club’s 100th anniversary, and I had the chance to interview him. I suppose interview should be in air quotes, as it was more like a walking Q&A for about 90 seconds, but technically I did have a conversation with the GOAT. 

I also really liked covering the 2019 World Long Drive Championship up at Winstar. We did a story on Kyle Berkshire, who won the 2019 WLD and has since gone on to win two more. It was cool to get to watch those mutants mail golf balls into the night sky just north of the Red River. 

I also had the chance to speak with Scottie Scheffler in September 2021. I like to think our conversation and his appearance on the cover of AG really gave him a much-needed confidence boost that sent his career to the moon in the year after we spoke, but, in actuality, he’s just really, really good at golf. 

When you get in this kind of business, you are presented with opportunities you never would imagine. Two of my other favorite memories since taking over as editor are completely different, but also awesome. First, we had the chance to cover the PGA development in Frisco from beginning to end. I remember very early on in my tenure as Editor, I drove to Dallas to the then Northern Texas PGA offices to meet with Mark Harrison, who is the Director of Operations for the NTPGA. He told me about an upcoming development in Frisco that could turn into the biggest golf story the Metroplex has ever seen. 

I was truly one of the first people outside of the inner circle who knew what was about to go down. From there, I visited the Fields Ranch site before any dirt was even being moved, and even hit a tee shot from where I think would be the No. 15 tee on the West Course. I wrote several stories on the development, and followed it the entire way, from groundbreaking, to grand opening. It was a professional pleasure to see the entire landscape of Metroplex golf change over the course of that development. 

The final story that still kind of blows my mind that I wrote was one on Larry the Cable Guy. Yes, you heard that right. In April 2022, as Las Colinas Country Club prepared for the inaugural Invited Celebrity Classic, some of their public relations contacts reached out to me about the chance to interview Larry. So, I thought, why the hell not? He was a super nice guy, and we spoke for about 45 minutes on the phone. In fact, I still have his phone number. 

Yes. I have Larry the Cable Guy’s digits, and it still makes me laugh when I happen to scroll by it. 

I would say of all the stories I spearheaded, the most embarrassing (or biggest failure) was our story on Texas Rangers starting pitcher Corey Kluber. Now, that’s not to say he wasn’t a nice guy. He was. But I interviewed him, we ran the story, and then he pitched one measly inning for the Rangers before he tore up his shoulder. He never pitched for the Rangers again, but he did return to baseball the following season as a member of the New York Yankees and tossed a no-hitter against Texas. Pretty funny if you ask me. 

Of all the amazing things I have been blessed to do and see since I began editing the magazine, none of them compare to the wonderful people I have had the opportunity to meet and the relationships I have formed because of my career here. That is the true reason I love this job. Thanks to everyone who has supported AG over the years. Whether it be during my tenure as editor or those before me, I think I speak for us all when I say thank you, and we look forward to many more years covering this great game