Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Lorne Rubenstein

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Ten Questions with Lorne Rubenstein

Lorne Rubenstein is an award-winning golf writer and columnist for the Globe and Mail. Head to McNally Robinson at Don Mills on June 10th where he will be discussing his latest book, This Round's On Me. See our events page for full details.

OBT:

Tell us about your book, This Round’s On Me.

LR:

It’s been 16 years since Touring Prose, the last collection of my pieces. I felt it was time to look through stories I’d written in The Globe and Mail, ScoreGolf magazine, Golf World, Golf Journal, Travel & Leisure Golf and many other publications. The book includes many of my favourite pieces. I like to think it says something about why I think that golf is so interesting, so much fun and so challenging.

OBT:

When did you first become interested in golf and what drew you to the sport?

LR:

I played all sports as a kid growing up in Toronto, but golf was the one I could play on my own and that took me into fascinating landscapes. Then there was the problem of how does one make that little ball go where it should go? I loved being out in the open air alone or with friends while trying to figure out the swing, and that feeling remains.

OBT:

What is the best part of being a golf journalist and writer? What is the most challenging aspect?

LR:

The best part is that I get to see the world and to meet and write about the great players. At the same time, I love following the amateur side of the game. I’ve written that golf is a private game played publicly. You can get close to the players because you can see them on practice ranges and walk very near them in practice rounds and even in tournaments. Golf is as much a head game as a physical game, so it’s been interesting to see how the top players cope with these aspects. I’ve been fortunate enough to write about the game when Jack Nicklaus and Nancy Lopez were playing their best golf, and to be around now when Tiger Woods, Mike Weir, Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam until she retired have been at the top of their games.

The most challenging aspect is getting time with the players. But the opportunities to do so are there; you just have to make sure to get out on the range and on the course and to know the game thoroughly so that the players will want to talk to you.

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment and your ideal golfing environment.

LR:

My ideal writing environment is anywhere. I find I can work in quiet environments or in noisy environments. I enjoy working in cafes and often do that. My ideal golfing environment is a links course in the UK. I’m a great fan of links, or oceanfront, golf and have made probably 50 trips to golf in the UK. I spent the summer of 2000 living above a bookshop in the north of Scotland, a few hundred yards away from the Royal Dornoch Golf Club. It’s one of the most rugged, beautiful courses in the world. I wrote a book about the summer, called A Season in Dornoch: Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands. In general, I favour wild, remote places, and golf has many of these.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

LR:

The first articles I wrote were for the Canadian Open program. The first magazine piece I wrote besides for the program was for Toronto Life, in 1979, called "Psychology of the Swing." I started my column in The Globe and Mail in 1980 and am still writing the column.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

LR:

Sharon Butala: The Perfection of the Morning
Ken Dryden: The Game
Mordechai Richler: Solomon Gursky Was Here

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

LR:

Donald Hall: Unpacking the Boxes
Moving to Higher Ground: Wynton Marsalis
The Forever War: Dexter Filkins

OBT:

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? How about the best golf advice?

LR:

Don Obe was editing Toronto Life when he assigned me my first golf piece for a non-golf magazine. I wrote the piece and then he called me down to his office. We talked for an hour and he said, “Do you think you could write what you just told me?” I said I’d try, and I did. He was telling me to write what I know and not to censor myself. I’ve never forgotten his advice, which amounted to “Be true to yourself.”

The best golf advice I’ve ever gotten is from the late and great Canadian golfer George Knudson. He always said, “Never do anything at the expense of balance.”

OBT:

Describe one of your most memorable moments while researching/writing the articles in this book.

LR:

I was playing golf with my brother-in-law Dan Kozak, who has Down Syndrome. I realized he could do so much more than I’d assumed. Playing with Dan taught me to keep my eyes and mind open and to set my assumptions aside on and off the course, in all things. The article I’ve included in the book about our round is called "Playing with Dan." The emphasis is on "playing." Golf’s a game, and I’ve tried to treat it that way and to write about it with that in mind.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

LR:

Know your subject thoroughly. Be curious and open-minded. Research, research, research. Meet your deadlines. Understand that an editor is there to help you write the best article of which you’re capable.


“Every page of this wonderful collection of golfing stories will remind you why you love the game, and why, no matter how you play it, you will always find a certain peace in what will surely be another ‘fine spring.’”
— Peter Mansbridge


Read more about
This Round's On Me at the McClelland & Stewart website.

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