Friday, May 22, 2009

Recent MGL Story from the Bay City Times: Michigan Golf Live celebrates 10 years of fairways and airwaves by Lee Thompson

Bill Hobson can talk golf all day.

But his real knack is getting people to listen.

Hobson took a somewhat absurd concept - golf on the radio - and spun it into a decade-long success story. With Michigan Golf Live, Hobson has had the ear of the golf world.

And he always talks a good game.

"I was interested in doing a show that would celebrate the game," said Hobson. "And not the brain-surgery, watch-the-grass-grow kind of golf show, but the kind of show that people would leave saying 'That was good. That was fun.'

"There's nothing more boring than hearing somebody tell you about their round, shot for shot for shot... We're not about that. We try to keep things upbeat and positive and entertaining."

The format apparently has appeal, as Michigan Golf Live celebrates its 10-year anniversary this season. What began as a low-scale venture has blossomed into a 26-week radio program broadcast on 11 stations throughout the state along with a weekly television show aired on Fox Sports Net Detroit.

Hobson, a Clio native and University of Michigan graduate, became known on the local sports scene in the 1990s as the football and basketball broadcaster for Saginaw Valley State University. But the beckon of golf was something he could not resist - and he knew he was not alone.

"I've always found golf to be the most loving, confounding and addicting game you can play," he said. "And it's unlike any other sport out there.

"You're not ever going to dunk over Rasheed, you're never going to be like Tom Brady, and you're never going to hit a 90 mph fastball. But golf is the one sport where everybody has moments where they are as good as the guys on TV. Everybody hits that one good shot, and it lets you dream a little bit."

Hobson has brought his own little piece of the dream to life with Michigan Golf Life. The radio program, which originates from a different golf locale each week, broadcasts live at WSGW 100.5-FM from 9-11 a.m. each Saturday from April through September.

Hobson takes his "Show in a box" around the state, spotlighting Michigan courses and the people who call them home. Each radio show includes interviews with PGA Tour members and other golf dignitaries as well as hot-topic discussions, a chat with a swing doctor, listener call-ins as well as contests and giveaways.

"The most fun is getting out and seeing friends in the industry," Hobson said. "We set up shop at their place and they sort of get to co-host the show that week. We might grab a random golfer and find out what they think about the course - that's only backfired on us once or twice. But it's that kind of thing that makes it fun."

The television program is a 30-minute travelogue, profiling destination courses such as Black Lake, Oakland Hills, Treetops and others. Stops are planned this month for Forest Dunes, Arcadia Bluffs, The Grand Hotel and Bucks Run.

Shows are aired on FSN-Detroit at 9:30 a.m. Saturdays, 9 a.m. Sundays and 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and can also be viewed online at

"The audience has invested their trust in us," Hobson said. "We're not shilling for crap. We're not a ShamWow commercial. Golfers want a credible voice because there are so many choices out there.

"In our state, there are courses that people have never heard of that are just stunning and don't cost $9 million to play. And I've always encouraged people to try a new course every year. Don't just throw a dart at the map, but do your homework, find a course that sounds interesting and get out and try it."

During the week, Hobson operates Hobson Media, a consulting firm which helps homeless shelters raise funds. But he always looks forward to his weekends, when he hits the road and hits the golf course - and uses the radio or television to tell golfers throughout Michigan all about it.

"After 10 years, it's the only show of its kind in this state," he said. "And I'm proud of the fact that we stuck around for awhile."

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