|Dallas skyline (Photo credit: dherrera_96)|
As is anyone else in my age group who's known what it is to be a freelance writer.
AT&T Senior Vice President Ronald E. Spears? Hell, I've met him a hundred times. Not that he was running a communications company back then of course. Wasn't even known simply as 'Ron'.
He was a hundred different editors, sporting a hundred different names and a hundred different appearances and I was wanting to write for them, rather than build a golf course.
But the schtick, give or take a word or two, that was just what Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and Tom Doak may have heard when, as reported, they were interviewed for the Dallas project.
"We're just trying to get this publication off the ground at present, Jeff, so we won't be able to pay you for the article as such but rest assured the exposure you'll get from having your name in print will be fantastic..."
Sound familiar, boys?
"AT&T Senior Vice President Ronald E. Spears offers what appear to be three reasons why golf course designers and construction contractors should be willing to more or less donate their services. First, it will be worth it just to have their names associated with such a prestigious project. Second, it's sort of for the kids. Third, the golf course industry is in the ditch. They're not in a position to make demands, like being paid." - Jim Schultze of the Dallas ObserverMind you, even I was spared that last slap to the kisser. No-one ever sank so low as to intimate that with freelance writing being the thankless task it is, I should be grateful just to be tossed those precious crumbs of 'exposure'. But then these were editors, not senior executives so cocooned by wealth and power that sensitivity isn't always their strong suit.
As I can find no mention in the press of Spears sniffily announcing that Coore, Crenshaw and Doak haven't "bought into the mission", I must sadly assume that none of them have told him what he needs to hear.
That if they needed exposure, they'd sprint naked down Fifth Avenue.
That when he's as good at his job as they are at theirs, then can he address them and their peer-group like they're a bunch of farm labourers.
That when he can prove that AT&T will take proportionally the same-sized hit to its annual revenue in pro bono work in 2013-14 as the course architect is being asked to take to his and that all the utility companies, decorators, furnishers, electricians, gardeners, accountants, lawyers et al involved in the Dallas project are also working on a non-profit basis, they might just listen to what he has to say.
I once worked for a man who frustrated many of his fellow team-owners in a fledgling basketball league when he alone refused to loss-lead by giving out complimentary tickets.
"Once you give it away, no-one will ever pay for it," he countered and you only have to see major publishing companies struggle to monetise online content these days to know that he had a point.
"You want HOW much?" some young architect will be asked in future. "When those guys built a whole course in Dallas AT COST?"
That's what many businessmen are essentially like, no matter how much they try to play the grand philanthropist. Give them just one precedent for rejecting the idea of a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and they will ride it for all it's worth.
This industry is in recession, for heaven's sake, not on life-support, although if Ronald E Spears finds the useful idiot he's looking for, we could be headed that way.