Beyond the Story: 3 things to know about Marty Smith’s Masters story on ESPN.com

ESPN bureau reporter Marty Smith made his first visit to Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters on Friday, April 10. His first-person essay on ESPN.com sums up his experience. Smith answered a few questions from Front Row.

Marty Smith (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)
Marty Smith (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

How difficult was this long-form piece to turn around after your day at the Masters and how long did it take?
Not especially difficult, in terms of specifics and approach. I wrote what I saw. This is not a piece that a beat reporter would ever write. They’ve all been there, done that a million times, so they’re desensitized to those fine-detail aspects.

I took the same approach in Augusta that I took in New Orleans, while covering Ohio State in the College Football Playoff. Report what you see, and what you think is interesting. I woke up at around 7 a.m. [Saturday] and started writing, and filed the piece at around 12:30 p.m. I’m a stickler about details.

I took the same approach in Augusta that I took in New Orleans, while covering Ohio State in the College Football Playoff. Report what you see, and what you think is interesting.
– Marty Smith on reporting from the Masters, his first

That – and the fact that I’m writing amid the chaos of fatherhood – is what takes so long. I write a paragraph or two and there’s a fight. Or someone needs pancakes. Or the channel changed. Or a ponytail. (That is oddly fulfilling to me. Being a great dad and husband is the No. 1 priority in my life). Once I feel like it’s an acceptable piece, I read and re-read and write and re-write time-and-again. It’s an OCD-for-details thing.

How/to whom did you pitch the idea?
I wrote [Vice President & Editorial Director, ESPN Digital & Print Media] Patrick Steigman, the head of ESPN.com, an email. He immediately turned around and included golf editor Kevin Maguire. They were interested immediately, and off we went. Kevin and I batted some ideas around about a theme. We came up with a mix between a first-timer’s experience and what exactly is Berkmans Place theme. I took a notepad with me all day long and jotted some notes and some details as we went. I drank a lot of beers and ate too much. It was awesome. (I hope they let me do it again!)

What was the reaction of your uncle, the golf fanatic, to the piece since he was with you?
I will quote his text verbatim: “Well, you left me speechless again. Great work! Funny how you don’t even have to embellish to describe it. So well done.”

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