Sitting on the 18th fairway at Torrey Pines North golf course, Doug Ferguson’s office looks different from that of the ordinary newspaper reporters.
It combines the noises of the golf tournament’s television coverage, hands hitting laptop keys and indistinct chatter as golf shots are reported on a big screen in front of everyone inside the media tent. Doug Ferguson sits in the media tent while his eyes glaze over a computer screen, researching players and caddies, trying to find a story nugget.
Ferguson, a 1983 graduate of ACU, is starting his 28th year with the Associated Press, covering about 30 golf tournaments a year. He won the JMC’s department Gutenberg Award in 1999 for his national work.
Ferguson said he hopes to bring golf knowledge with a simple style that hits all the important developments in the right order, with an occasional dash of humor with a large dose of candor.
“He was very gracious,” said Cheryl Mann Bacon, professor and chair of journalism and mass communication. “He was very competent. He has a crazy life. He travels constantly.”
He writes about tournaments including the British Open, the World Golf Championship in Shanghai and the Ryder cup or President’s Cup.
“Golf takes you to some pretty cool spots around the world,” Ferguson said. “I’ve covered tournaments in the Bahamas and Bermuda, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, Spain and Sweden, South Africa and Australia, Shanghai and Seoul.”
One thing unique about covering golf is that it takes four days to decide the winner; however dead lines must still be met, which makes Ferguson’s job hectic on Sunday afternoons.
Ferguson received a BA in Spanish at ACU. During his last semester, he realized he did not want to teach Spanish, so he played with the idea of double majoring-adding Public Relations to the mix. Pam Money, the wife of ACU’s tenth president Dr. Royce Money, persuaded him to get a Master’s degree instead.
Deciding to switch his school colors to crimson and cream, Ferguson took master’s classes at the University of Oklahoma. He was constructing research projects when he decided to volunteer at The Oklahoma Daily, the school newspaper.
“I went from sports writing to sports editor and eventually editor,” Ferguson said. “Owen Canfield was the Oklahoma City sports editor for the Associated Press, and I used to race him every night to try to finish my story first. I usually lost, but it was great competition for me.”
In the summer of 1987, the AP hired Ferguson as an intern where he soon filled the Oklahoma City sports editor’s position at the Orange Bowl for the national title game between Miami and Oklahoma.
In 1998, Ferguson worked on Phillips Petroleum quarterly earning reports when his phone rang. His bureau chief asked him if he could cover a golf tournament in Jamaica because the golf writer had become ill.
Jamaica was the beginning of more business trips for the golf writer.
Ferguson said his favorite tournament is the Masters.
“The place is magical,” Ferguson said. “It’s like being at Disney for golfers. Something special always happens.”
In mid-April, the Master’s will be underway again where Ferguson will talk to returning champion and Texas native Jordan Spieth.
“I like talking to Spieth because he shows a lot of respect when listening to questions and trying to answer them,” Ferguson said.
For ACU students who may be feeling pressure due to graduation being around the corner, know that Doug was in your shoes.
“To be honest, I think I went to graduate school to buy time, which I needed,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson encourages students to do their homework and learn the importance of preparation.
“If I don’t prepare- if I don’t invest the time and study to do my job- it shows,” Ferguson said. “So start there. And with that in mind, my real advice would be to remember that our power is found in weakness. It’s okay to fail. It’s not okay to quit trying.”
The Abilene Reporter News publishes Ferguson’s writing for every weekend tournament.