The last time Ron Sirak '72 roamed the fairways of the Lancaster Country Club, it was during his junior year at Franklin & Marshall College. The philosophy and history major and lifelong golfer got his first experience then on what he, and many others, consider to be one of the country's loveliest courses.
This week Sirak is back, not as a player, but as a veteran golf writer and much-honored journalist covering the best female players in the world during the U.S. Women's Open (USWO), his 51st women's major.
"It's a great golf course, and truly a hidden gem," Sirak said. "I would put it in the top three in Pennsylvania, and it's one of (iconic golf course architect William Flynn)'s big masterpieces." Flynn also created the famous Shinnecock Hills course on Long Island and worked on the Country Club, in Brookline, Mass., among other prominent courses.
Sirak, a senior writer for Golf Digest and formerly executive editor of Golf World, has been writing about the sport for decades, focusing on golf after years of hard-news experience, including a long stint with the Associated Press. This year he was awarded the PGA's Lifetime Award in Journalism, joining such acclaimed writers as Herbert Warren Wind, Jim Murray and Dan Jenkins.
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He especially enjoys covering the women’s tour. "They’re not just incredible athletes, they're accessible," Sirak said. "As a reporter, you want to get to know the people you're covering, and these players are incredibly open and easy to talk to."
What's more, while golf in general took a hit during the recession — "everybody who still had a job was too busy working to play or watch much golf" — the professional tours have bounced back, and the women's side is starting to get the recognition it deserves, he said.
"The plethora of great young (female) stars" are encouraging more young women to play the sport, he said.
Franklin & Marshall is a supporter of the USWO, which is the first major sporting championship to be played in Lancaster or south central Pennsylvania. More than 2,000 volunteers trained at F&M's Alumni Sports & Fitness Center in June, and the College is offering a hospitality venue at the course.
Sirak credited the College's community involvement with some of the big changes in Lancaster since he left town in 1972.
"What F&M has now that it didn't used to have is a college with a college town around it," he said.
Sirak, who is also the father of Rachel ’04, lives on Cape Cod and golfs at the Chequesset Club on Wellfleet Harbor when he isn't traveling the world writing about the game. His dream job? "I'd rather do this than anything else," he said.