22 Aug 2012
Last week's winner, Sergio Garcia, was one of many players Elvy followed during his time reporting on the Tour. Photo: Getty
This is a confession of sorts. I’ve always been a fan of rapper Eminem.
Behind the drug references, swearing and misogynistic tones are words and songs to inspire, none more so than his anthem ‘Lose Yourself’. You know the one, “If you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted, one moment, would you capture it or let it slip?”
Well, six months ago I set off for the United States - The Land of Opportunity – to crack the golf TV market and I found myself in Florida in late February armed with a dream I was sure I’d turn into a reality.
Ambitious? Sure, but not a long shot given my privileged role as the front man of Australian golf at Network TEN. I also had grown comfortable travelling with the PGA Tour after spending the previous year in the States covering the Aussies during Majors season.
Last year’s epic summer of golf had been a ratings bonanza in the US through the Golf Channel so it had given me exposure in America. But with my contract at TEN ending in July, this was my one shot or one opportunity to seize everything I’d ever wanted.
But it didn’t take long for reality to kick in.
Despite incredible support from friend and colleague Ian Baker-Finch, who is (rightly) treated like a demi-God by the US golf market, I found myself standing very much on the outside looking in.
Sure, through Ian, I was exposed to exclusive environments that without him I would never have seen. Like meeting Jack Nicklaus in his private boardroom before playing The Bears’ Club in Jupiter or enjoying a few drinks with many of golf’s biggest names ahead of the Medallist’s Member/Guest.
It was serious inner sanctum stuff, however, that is Finchy’s world, not mine.
I am a firm believer of earning the right to be in that company and I certainly don’t have my name on the Claret Jug.
Instead, I headed off to the tournaments during the Florida Swing, trying to meet the appropriate people, network with industry insiders and basically spread the word that I was “for hire”.
No stone was left unturned.
It appeared to be paying off as I enjoyed a cameo in the “World Feed” commentary box during the WGC – Cadillac Championship at Doral. I was a guest host on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive for a week leading into the US Open and I worked the weekend as an on-course commentator for Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio at Hilton Head following The Masters.
The ball was rolling, compliments were being thrown left, right and centre and I was excited about my future. Especially as my pregnant wife, Abi had joined me from Australia and we had set up base in Orlando.
By The PLAYERS in mid-May, I’d had more meetings, catch-ups and potential chats with industry heavyweights, than I had in the first 18 years of my media career. I had networked my tail off.
But the golf media landscape is smaller than you think and it was apparent very few opportunities existed. As far as I was concerned, it was either Golf Channel or bust and it didn’t take long for excitement and positivity to be replaced by anxiety and a feeling of not belonging.
The visa I had entered the States on wasn’t suitable for US based media agencies to hire me so I missed out on some great opportunities. Plus key personnel changes at the Golf Channel had prevented them from making any long-term decisions until well after the London Olympics.
Problem was, I couldn’t wait that long.
My contract at TEN ended in July so I stopped earning any money and with the baby coming at the end of September, Abi and I had to head home after the PGA Championship (Airlines don’t allow pregnant women to fly within six weeks of the due date) and often in this business - out of sight means often out of mind.
I’ve always felt with so many of our stars in the States, Australia deserves to have presence so their stories can be told on a regular basis. Surely there’s a genuine level of interest from someone? It’s just that no one (at the moment) is prepared to pay for that.
The good news is just before I left I secured the appropriate Visa so I can be employed by any media company to work in America but now I find myself back in Australia still itching for that opportunity.
The bad news is I just don’t know if I’ve captured it or let it slip.
Luke Elvy hosts golf for Network TEN and is now returning to Australia after six months covering Australians on the PGA Tour in the US and is a freelance columnist for GolfAustralia.org.au His views do not necessarily represent those of Golf Australia. You can follow him on Twitter: @elvisgolf.