Golf Ambassador: Bob Sturm
Bob Sturm Holds Court on the Air and on the Tee
In New York City, performers are told if they can make it there, they can make it anywhere. Similarly, in Texas’ Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, if you win the trust of Cowboy fans, you can have a long, iconic career regaling an absurdly loyal audience with your knowledge and opinions.
Originally from Wisconsin, sports radio personality Bob Sturm graduated from Liberty University and started his broadcasting career in Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1998, he arrived in Dallas and became the host of KTCK 1310 The Ticket's nighttime show.He rose to further fame co-hosting “BaD Radio”with on-air partner Dan McDowell,and now hosts The Ticket’s all-important 3pm to 7pm drive-time slot with Corby Davidsonon “The Hardline.”
“The Sturminator”has puthis encyclopedic sports knowledgeto effective usewith co-hosts and listenersfor a quarter century in one ofthe country’s most rabid sports markets.Sturm also hosts the Dallas Cowboys pre-game showand serves as the stat man for Troy Aikman’s Monday Night Football broadcastson ESPN.
Last year, Sturm started a partnershipwith The Indoor Golf Shop about a partnership. The company then supplied him with a SkyTrak SIG10 simulator in his home. He has become known forgolf-related messages to his large Twitter following. And until recently, Sturmwas also a sportswriter for The Athletic, known largely for his in-depth analysis of NFL games, specifically the Cowboys.
The Indoor Golf Shop recently caught up with Sturm, for a golf-related chat.
Could you ever have imagined working for so long as a writer and broadcaster, and developing a fanbase in a rabid sports town like Dallas?
I don't think so. I was prepared as many of us are in this business to move around and chase the jobs up the ladder – and just be prepared to see a big part of the country in three- and five-year chunks. That’s when I was 25. And then to turn 51 last month and still be in essentially the same job, it's ridiculously fortunate. You don't know who you're going to work for. You don't know what team you're joining. You're just desperate to be employed and to get your career going. And so, for me to basically leave market No. 166, and for The Ticket to find me in that little market, and then to pretty much just jump to market No. 5 and then kind of stay here with a real heavyweight of a radio station and just try to pitch in and help out, has been a ridiculous blessing. And on top of all that, I’m able to go back to my first love – writing and covering the Cowboys in that way for a couple of decades. So I've had a ridiculous run, for sure.
What has it meant to have such loyalty and longevity in your broadcasting career?
It means everything because fan loyalty is what separates our audience from I guess the average radio media market. And this is where I start to feel old. Many fans talk about riding in the backseat with their dad to school, listening to The Ticket. And now they’ve got kids of their own and they're doing the same thing and that's pretty mind blowing to think that the first time a guy started listening to me he was eight and now he's taking his own kids to school. So it's hard to believe sometimes when you consider all of the possibilities out there for your path. You shake your head and smile a lot.
If an up-and-coming media member asks you what it takes to be a successful radio host, what do you tell them?
If you have the passion and the enthusiasm for the job, meaning you wake up every day and think about what games you get to watch today…if that gets you going, and it definitely gets me going to pretty much be able to cover sport for a living and to never get tired of the changing of the seasons. If you’ve got that inside you, the rest takes care of itself. And to come to a major sports city like this and see that global brand of the Cowboys or a global icon like Dirk Nowitzki or Luka Dončić, you see that people want to find your work from all over the globe. You get a guy in Belgium or in Thailand who are Cowboys fans, or I think of all the German people that tune in every day to hear about Dirk over the years, and it's pretty insane. So that just stokes the fire and I take that responsibility seriously. It's an honor to have that gig.
What do you like most about your job?
That I never feel like I'm working – even when I'm working hard and long days. It's still just football and just basketball. And when I was growing up and realizing that my parents didn't necessarily love their jobs, I subconsciously tried to find something that when the weekend is over, or when vacation is ending, I’m actually kind of looking forward to working again. That's the whole thing. Some people describe it as we get to work in the toy department of life. And I think that's true. It's magical to know that next week or the week after, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros are here and then in the fall, Aaron Rodgers and the Jets come visiting early in the season, and just all of the different touring circus acts of sports come through town. So that just continues to build my excitement for the job. It's hard to feel beat down when I have that sort of thing.
For people outside of Dallas-Fort Worth, what separates Cowboy fans from other pro sports fans from around America?
Certainly there are more of them and they enjoy the feeling that it's them against the world. It's also a feeling from the Cowboys fan base – and this will make people smile because Cowboys fans 30 years ago you might describe as entitled or spoiled – now feel tortured, and we may never win again. I realize there's a lot of fans that think about their team all year long. But now that we're almost 30 years since our last Super Bowl. I can only tell you that if I live long enough to see the next one, the city is going to be pretty insane when it works out. Also it's worth noting that I got hired kind of when the drought began. And so I don't think it's my fault. But I am starting to wonder because when I got here, they did win Super Bowls all the time, but then it stopped and it hasn't restarted. So I'm feeling a little guilty.
Enough about football, now let’s talk GOLF. How did you get started?
In college, I tried to screw around like everybody, but I had this weird draw to the game without ever having any real exposure just because the Tiger Woods/Phil Mickelson sort of mid-90s excitement when golf became a little more mainstream for my generation. You just felt it become cool. It became something that we didn't find on SportsCenter, or we didn't mind watching the majors. So I tried to play like everybody trying to play eight times a year. And as I probably got into my 40s, I realized so much of sports media is kind of getting together and playing golf with either athletes or coaches or each other. And I was so bad that I wanted to at least be able to fit in. So as I got busier. I'm a bit of an obsessive compulsive personality, so I would take up different projects or resolutions every year, including playing more golf. That, probably in 2016, became a priority that I wanted to be able to play at a level where I did not stick out like a sore thumb. And then I guess that launched my addiction and my quest that continues to this very day, where I don't believe a week goes by without playing a round of golf. And if I'm lucky, a couple rounds of golf. So it's now something that’s part of my routine. And I anticipate it will be until I'm no longer able to swing a golf club, because I am as addicted as it gets.
When did you first know you were hooked?
Probably the first time I broke 100 – that just spoke to my statistical brain as the type of thing that addicts you. It’s the idea that if I improve this much in this amount of time, if I can just continue that improvement at this pace, which of course never actually happened, I could shoot in the 70s someday. And that of course is way more difficult than it sounds. Probably the first time you par a hole or come close to a birdie feeds your imagination on what's possible. And that’s probably the closest thing to reminding me of high school and college basketball when I would hit a wide open three-pointer – there's a shot of adrenaline, a feeling inside your body that’s so difficult to duplicate. But if you hit a perfect drive, it's that same exact feeling.
Where do you play the most?
For a long time, it was Grapevine Golf Course that I love very much. I was an annual member there, and that was wonderful. It got a little overcrowded during COVID. So I found my way to Las Colinas Country Club recently, and I'm a proud member over there. That's where I'm playing most of my rounds now. But I also have a resolution every year to play 10 new courses in North Texas. And I have about three to go here in 2023. So I do try to get out and see the area because there are so many places to play.
What’s your index?
What are your golf bucket list destinations?
As it happens, I get to play Pebble Beach next week and am over the moon about it. I'm quite certain that it will still have some US Women’s Open conditions, and so I better not focus on my score. But I do wish I would travel more and play. I would love to play Whistling Straits in my home state of Wisconsin. Back there are many places I need to go play because when I return, it's usually to visit family and friends. So I don't get out to see these gorgeous golf courses. But Wisconsin's become quite a golf destination. I'm also fascinated with Bandon Dunes. Cabot Links in Canada also looks incredible. And then of course like everybody, who wouldn't want to go play St. Andrews someday? Most of my golf has been in North Texas and in California, when we go to Cowboys training camp. I love playing Sandpiper Golf Course in Santa Barbara. But honestly, I have a very limited golf passport at this point and I'm looking to fix that.
What do you enjoy about having a SkyTrak simulator in your home?
It's fantastic because it really allows me to practice at inconvenient times. A lot of us have very busy schedules, but if all you have to do is walk into the next room to hit a bucket of balls, or even to play Pebble Beach, Erin Hills or St Andrews, it’s a wonderful luxury. And when the weather turns or when it's 10 at night, and I’m having friends over, it's something that they all look at you with great envy, that they can actually go to your house and hit balls. And we always have a great time doing that. So it's partly practice but it's also partly entertainment because invariably when I have guests at the house, the activities move to that room pretty quickly.
Do you ever use it to get serious about stats and game improvement, as well?
Yes. My wedge game has really picked up by using the practice mode and trying to dial in yardage and so forth. I've found that translates very well – as does the ability to work on moving the ball with the driver. I’m completely a right-to-left player – a draw when I'm playing well or a hook when I'm not playing well. Let's just say I'm still working on that, I haven't quite mastered it, but I can definitely practice it with the SkyTrak and continue to refine it.
What have you enjoyed about working with The Indoor Golf Shop?
They really know what they're doing and they can imagine your space and put something together that just fits really well. They're very attentive, they have a good feel for the details and for your options, and it's turned into a really cool space in the house. And I'm very grateful for meeting those guys. I would be more than happy to recommend them to anybody who wants to step up their game to the next level.
What concerns did you initially have about your installation and how did the Indoor Golf Shop guys help you solve them?
It was a media room and I was trying to figure out how I could keep the media room and add the simulator. So it was a bit of a complex puzzle to put together, so that somebody like me could actually still watch football games while hitting balls. Multitasking is either a blessing or a curse, but it's definitely something I do. During the winter, there's nothing better than having a football game on while I’m improving at golf. So they had to figure out how the space would work. They built it probably a little bit non traditional for me in how it’s set up, as a result, but it works perfectly for me. And like I said, when my guys come over they're pretty impressed that I get to live here. It's a cool thing, for sure.
What's a highlight moment from having a simulator in your home so far?
Honestly being able to play Pebble Beach half a dozen times before I go play the real Pebble Beach. I won't be surprised by too many details on the course – other than I'm sure the ocean breeze and the saltwater. But everything else on the simulator is I believe pretty close to the real thing. So I've mapped out my plan. Now I just have to execute it.