Early evening eased its way over Timber Creek Golf Course on Monday as the top group of golfers in a dual between Amboy and Dixon walked down the second-hole fairway.
As the sun lowered, the air cooled and it felt a little like fall. I've always liked the fall the best.
As I followed the group of players, a parent sidled up next me.
"So how long have been with the Telegraph?"
Minutes earlier, we had talked briefly on the first hole, and he had asked why I was taking notes. I told him I had to, or I'd forget everything.
So the conversation continued onto the next hole.
"Nine years," I said.
"Wow, that's dedication." he said.
"I guess so. This is the easy part," I said, meaning the covering of events.
It was a gorgeous night, and I was getting likely the only real exercise I'd get during a week where a mountain of page design waited for me each day at the office.
The conversation got me thinking about things like dedication.
Did 9 years mean I was dedicated?
I've come to realize longevity in a workplace doesn't necessarily mean that a person is dedicated.
They could, in fact, be coasting, and lucky that their employer hasn't tried to find someone better to do the job.
Maybe that's me. I'll let you guys form your own opinions on that.
It all comes down to the No. 1 writing tip that I can give anyone: Show things, don't tell.
We bandy about words like dedication a lot in sports. Usually, they are used with no real proof that our subjects are, in fact. dedicated, or hard workers, or even "good people."
We can see dedication at a practice, but we are probably at the practice for 10 minutes. Anyone can appear dedicated for 10 minutes.
We assume it when we see a team winning. Winners have to be dedicated, right?
Most of time that's probably true, but they could just be that much more talented than the teams they are playing.
The point is that writing about dedication, hard work, leadership, and other intangibles that can't be measured or tallied is a dangerous game for reporters.
Saying it flat out is pointless and dangerous. Showing it, though, is priceless and (more) safe.
The perfect example came at the end of that round, when Amboy's Griffin Kozeal earned medalist honors.
Two years ago, he shot a 71 over those same nine holes. On Monday, he shot a 40.
Having played golf just enough to know that shaving a couple strokes off can be a matter of luck, I know that shaving 31 strokes is evidence of improved skills and ability.
Dixon coach Pat Lessnar backed it up with a few facts that he knows about Kozeal, and within that story, I was able to show that the Amboy golfer was dedicated to his craft without ever once saying it.