April 7, 2016

To put Dan Jenkins’ longevity in perspective, Jordan Spieth’s parents weren’t born when he covered his first Masters.

Jenkins is back at Augusta National, where he has spent more than a year of his life. This week marks his 66th Masters, a run dating back to 1951 when Ben Hogan won his first green jacket.

Jenkins, 86, continues to write columns for Golf Digest. However, during golf’s majors, he is communicating his thoughts on a daily basis through a medium he couldn’t have imagined way back when. And we’re talking about 2001, not 1951.

A Mt. Rushmore candidate as one of the greatest sportswriters of all time, Jenkins has become a master tweeter. Everyone needs to do this now: Follow @DanJenkinsGD on Twitter.

Since 2009, Jenkins has been expressing his observations via the wonders of social media. It is difficult to think of someone who does more with 140 characters.

Some examples:

As he noted in his tweet to Woods, Jenkins has reached the point in his life where shooting his age no longer is good score for the one-time low handicapper. However, he still can knock out the equivalent of 300-yard plus drives with his words.

Jenkins and Twitter are a logical match, says Golf Digest executive editor Mike O’Malley. His one-liners are laugh-out-loud-funny, although some of his targets might think otherwise.

“He wasn’t familiar with the format (in 2009) but instantly recognized that it was made for him and allowed him to make quick observations on things that might not make it into a story,” O’Malley said. “Dave Kindred said it best: ‘Now everyone is going to be able to hear all the funny lines that people in press rooms have been listening to for decades.’” Jenkins used to say “electricity hates me” in reference to the computer age. O’Malley assists him with his tweets.

Jenkins, though, has come around considerably. He now considers email his best friend.

“Email has made me hate the telephone. I love email,” Jenkins wrote in an email.

So I emailed him some questions. When I noted this column was for Poynter, he relied, “Been there. Nice. I think I made a talk there, but I was drinking then.”

What was your reaction when they proposed this idea to you? Did you know about Twitter?

When Digest suggested I tweet, I said fine, being a team player, but not fully grasping the art.

What did old friends like legendary Dallas sports columnist Blackie Sherrod say when you told them you were tweeting?

The old warhorses of my era in sportswriting — Blackie, Furman [Bisher] , etc. — all scoffed at me. When I said it was kind of fun, they accused me of suffering an early form of dementia. But of course we all thought that about computers too.

What’s the biggest challenge in being limited to 140 characters? Are you getting any better at it after all these years?

I think I got used to it right away. You know why? I quickly realized that you can get things said that would never fit the theme of your deadline piece. You can also say things that would never make the cut in a family newspaper.

Of your old colleagues and the all-time greats, who would have excelled at Twitter? Have to think Murray would have been pretty good.

Murray would have been great at Twitter. In fact, some of his columns were like reading a whole bunch of tweets.

Do you have a favorite tweet or tweets?

You know me. I have many favorite tweets. One that leaps back to me was at a British Open when John Daly showed up in a pair of blinding multicolored slacks. I tweeted that “a Motel 6 called from the states — they want their shower curtain returned.”

Did you ever think you’d still be doing this at 86?

Of course I didn’t think I would be doing this at the age of 86. But it’s kept me going to majors. I don’t know how much longer. I do hope it’s a while before I have to roll over and say, like Oscar Wilde, or whoever it was, “Ah, now for the greatest adventure of them all.”

Although I think I put it better in my World Golf Hall of Fame acceptance speech when I said my tombstone will say: “I knew this would happen.”

Jenkins signed off his email by writing, “Stay vertical, Ed.”

That’s always the goal. Here’s hoping Jenkins can stay vertical long enough to showcase his talents for the next new medium. Until then, enjoy him on Twitter this week. Want more Jenkins? O’Malley sent along some of his all-time favorites:

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Sherman wrote for the Chicago Tribune for 27 years covering the 1985 Bears Super Bowl season, the White Sox, college football, golf and sports media.…
Ed Sherman

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