Shane Sharp : Wordsmith
Shane Sharp is our favorite publicist and golf writer, not to mention an expert on all things related to Pinehurst. He's been in the golf industry for 20+ years and found home in Greenville, South Carolina. He's our first choice to have alongside if we ever found ourselves in a dark alley late at night with some unsavory characters, and his golf game's not bad either, so we took this opportunity to ask him a few questions to find out how Shane spends his time, and how our paths came to cross. Enjoy!
How do you describe what you do for a living? When our kids and their cousins were younger, my wife and her brothers decided we’d distill what we do for a living down to three words. So, for me, it was “I write stuff.” “Stuff” was the G-rated word selection. But it can’t be that simple, right? Basically, I do two things: write digital content and copy, and leverage my extensive media network, to help my clients increase revenue through owned and earned media. How’s that?
When/where was your first round of golf? Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club in my hometown of Naples, Fla. It was around the corner from our house, and I had a few buddies on the high school golf team.
Where did you go to school and what did you want to do after college? I got my BA in Political Science from Eckerd College and my MS in Urban Planning from the University of Arizona, the Harvard of the southwest. I got a job with the City of Tucson in the transportation department when I was 21-years-old and have worked full-time ever since.
How did you end up writing about golf for a living? I was planning bus routes and bike paths in Tucson when I saw a job posting on the Arizona campus for a part-time golf writer and editor with an Internet start-up. The company was TravelGolf.com, which was eventually acquired by the Golf Channel. Around the same time, I pitched GOLF Magazine on a story about Tucson and for some reason, they accepted it. That started a 20-year contributing editor partnership with GOLF and Golf.com.
Was that an easy transition into PR? As easy as a tap-in putt. I hated writing negative things about people, places and things. The golf industry is like ice cream, it’s all good. And more than anything, I enjoy helping small businesses go from zero to 60, or from 60 to breaking the speed limit.
What’s the hardest part of your job? Writing up to 5,000 words a week, including bog posts, sales emails, news releases, feature stories, etc. But it’s also the most rewarding. I’d encourage any young person to learn how to write. And I mean REALLY write. Master the AP Style Guide, ignore your college English professor and take at least a couple copywriting courses. You’ll always be employed.
What gives you the most satisfaction (referring to your job)? Helping my clients solve problems and breaking through to meet their goals. Also, forging relationships that last in perpetuity.
You’re in great shape – take us though a typical workout? That’s very kind of you to say. I used to be a distance runner but starting reading Mark Sisson’s Daily Apple and adopted more of his approach to fitness: sprint often, lift heavy things a few times a week, and do something you enjoy that’s invigorating. For me, that’s walking four or five rounds of golf a week. I also practiced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for six years and have a black belt in Hapkido. These days, lots of kettlebell as well.
Anything specific that golfers should be doing to stay limber? I wish I was limber. Every day, I have to go through rolling and stretching sessions, and do lots of golf-focused exercises with bands and light dumbbells. How do you choose your clients? I started Southbound 4 just over three years ago with the idea that I’d primarily work with golf businesses in the Carolinas. North and South Carolina are two amazing states; put them together and you have golf nirvana. Having worked for a large agency for 17 years, I was tired of the travel. But nowadays, it’s more through referrals. And I’ve become enamored with golf equipment and apparel companies, especially challenger brands like RADMOR, that have a clear mission and total product differentiation in the marketplace. Your
Desert Island Course: Green Valley Country Club, my home course. One of the only places I can break 80 regularly, and that makes me happy. So I want to be happy on my island.
Course that changed your life forever (or at least how you see the game of golf): Harbour Town Golf Links and Pinehurst No. 2. Harbour Town because it was so against type at the time Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus designed it. Did you know nearly all 18 greens can fit into one double green at the Old Course at St. Andrews? And Pinehurst No. 2 because I never really knew what an “approach shot” golf course was until I played it. I just played it again last week, and the job that Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw did in restoring its original shot values is mind blowing.
Favorite Hole: The 18th on Pinehurst No. 2. I get chills thinking of the 1999 U.S. Open, and then seeing the Payne Stewart statue after putting out.
We know you’ve played Pinehurst a thousand times; What are your 3 favorite tracks out there? No. 2, because you simply must see what it’s like to play Ross’s piece de resistance and feel what the pros go through during the U.S. Open. No. 4, because what Gil Hanse did there is simultaneously antithetical to No. 2, but also complementary. Lastly No. 8, because it’s Tom Fazio’s interpretation of what a Sandhills course should look and play like, and it’s night and day from No. 2 and 4.
Dream Foursome: Me, my wife, my son and my dream – that my daughter pick up the game and we all travel and play together. For now, it’s just the three of us, but we have a blast. But more famously, maybe Jay Bilas, Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner. Totally random.
Greatest lunch/meal (eg. HotDog) you’ve ever eaten at a golf course? What course? The halfway house on Pinehurst No. 5, for sure. Smoked hot dogs and homemade chili. We get one even if it’s 95 degrees out.
Most important thing you hope to pass on to your children about the game of golf? Leave the place better than when you came, shake hands, never cheat. That’s “things” but golf means a lot to us.
Favorite RADMOR item: Love. It. All. But if pressed, Five-O pants and Five-O shorts. Oh, and the RAD CAPS.