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Handwriting literally on the wall (VIDEO)

Douglas Imbrogno
Dave Koenig keeps the PGA tradition of the hand-written scoreboard alive this week at the inaugural Greenbrier Classic.
Douglas Imbrogno
Who needs wireless Internet when you've got an industrial-strength magic marker?
Douglas Imbrogno
In the old days of the PGA tour, the handwritten scoreboard was the official scoreboard. It's still the only place on the course where you can see the scores of every player in the tournament.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Everywhere you stroll on The Greenbrier's Old White course, huge digital boards announce up-to-the-minute scores, GPS-calculated distances to the tee, plus pixilated portraits of players with the answer to on-screen questions like: "Where is Jeff Overton?"Meanwhile, near the entrance to The Greenbrier Classic, Dave Koenig bends down to nab a red marker, climbs a step-stool and carefully writes down Overton's latest scores.You can hear the marker 'screech-screech-screech' as he marks the latest scores of every one of the more than 150 players in the PGA Tour event.Meet the original official scoreboard of the PGA Tour.At first, Koenig's labors might seem like an old-fashioned curiosity in the midst of a golf course with more wires - and wireless Internet - coursing through it than a college campus."If you talk to people who have been out here a great number of years," Koenig said, "they'll tell you that this is part of the whole atmosphere."He is quick to point out that his hand-written handiwork is no anachronism out of the grassy Olden Days of the PGA."This is part of the tournament," said Koenig, standing on a raised platform in front of the board, which stretches 100 feet to either side of him."I would argue, yes, there's electronic boards out there but, at best, you're going to get, maybe, eight players at a time. This is the place that the patrons who come to the golf tournament can come and see where every player is, what they shot hole-by-hole. "If you have a favorite player and he's not one of those eight names on the leader board, you have no idea what he shot."Spectators eye his board all day long. In another age, the hand-written board was where everyone -- players and tournament staff alike -- came to get to get the lowdown on the day's action."In the old days, this was the official scoreboard. The players would have to come here to find out who they were going to be paired with tomorrow," said Koenig. "Now, with the advent of computers, every player has got a virtual laptop in his hands. With the cellphones and iPhones, it's instantaneous."For golf fans, though, this is still the only place you can go to find the latest scores of your personal star, that one who's not even in the top 100.Koenig is one of about three or four people who still hand-letter scoreboards for the PGA and LPGA. He has kept his other, more full-time day job.
"I've been doing this about 12 years on a professional basis. The first one I did was 12 years ago, in New Orleans. I do this about five to six weeks out of the year. My real job is I'm a spirit and wine distributor back in Jackson, Mississippi."
If you think logging continuously changing scores for more than 150 players all day long is a little hectic, you'd be dead on."It's pretty intense. Once we get the first score, about 9 o'clock in the morning, it is absolute nonstop until 7:30 at night, when the last putt is holed. When mistakes are made, they have to be corrected, and that's time consuming. It's very easy to fall back."Weather delays are bad news, he said. "If we have down time and cannot finish, say, today's round, then we've got to still play tomorrow to get in the second round, plus we've got to do the third round. It's a little nerve-wracking."The markers are waterproof and the card-stock paper he writes on is thick and tough, but really bad weather can set him back a whole lot."I've showed up on a Sunday morning to do the last round and the whole board was down because of a storm that night," Koenig said. "It was in New Orleans. It was unbelievable. I got there about quarter to six in the morning, and I walked around the corner and there was not one piece of paper on the board. All gone."I was dumbfounded. There were a couple of gentlemen sitting there at the board, and I walked up and I said, 'Where is the scoreboard?' and they said, 'There's a piece over there and there's a piece over there.' It was just ripped to shreds."
Koenig wanted it made clear that he does not do calligraphy, even though his handwriting is handsome and neat, with calligraphic-style serifs."I had, I guess, a pretty good nun in grade school back in southern Illinois. She actually didn't like my writing because, you know, you had to do everything slanted to the right and I didn't do that -- but she gave me an A in penmanship."A reporter interviewing a guy responsible for handwriting the multifarious scores of 150 golfers doesn't wish to keep a person like that distracted for long. When does his workday end?"I'll be working until 11 o'clock tonight. Once this is done, then I have to redo all the names with the people who made the cut. So, we'll have a brand new sheet up tomorrow."You could look up today's leader on your iPhone or you could stop by Koenig's workplace and save a few pixels. He's not going anywhere and he hopes the same holds true for his handiwork."I don't want this to go away."Reach Douglas Imbrogno at or 304-348-3017.
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