Honoring Stu

geoffstu.jpgGeoff Russell's Golf World tribute to Stu has been posted.

It was a really wet Sunday at the Mercedes. I heard they wouldn't let Charlie Rymer walk the fairways unless he observed the 90-degree rule. (Jan. 14, 2005)

A few years ago I hired Stu Schneider to be Golf World's television critic. Stu's golf journalism career started in 1995 when he became editor of GolfWeb, one of the Internet's first golf-only websites--and soon, under Stu's leadership, golf's best website. In an e-mail last week, GolfWeb founder Ed Pattermann wrote, "Stu grasped the potential of the Internet and its ability to cover every facet of golf on a global scale instantly. Stu pioneered common website components such as online polls, contributing writers, player diaries and interactive forums."

As many as a dozen golf writers working today owe their start to Stu. Unfortunately, his own career didn't progress as smoothly. When the Internet world went bust in the late 1990s, GolfWeb was sold a couple of times, and in 1999 Stu was replaced as editor. He dabbled in websites and real estate, but until I called him in 2004, he hadn't been able to get back into golf journalism.

I don't want to say Nick Faldo is spreading himself too thin, but last weekend he showed up to adjust my satellite dish. (Oct. 13, 2006)

Stu's column, "TV Rewind," quickly became one of Golf World's best-read departments, especially at the TV networks. It was a complicated assignment. TV officials--like pro golfers and, for that matter, magazine editors--don't take kindly to criticism, especially from an outsider. Also, my wife, Molly, happens to be a producer for NBC Sports. This put Stu in the unenviable position of both fending off charges of favoritism towards NBC and having his slightest mistakes (like confusing the roles of a director and producer) pointed out by the boss's wife. But Stu navigated the currents, skillfully and fairly.

Stu acquired another assignment. "Front 9," the snarky little column that usually appears on this page, had become stale under its previous writer--who happened to be me. His first week at Golf World, I sent him a draft of "Front 9" for a little "polishing." I did it again the second week. The third week, I fired myself and promoted him to the job.

He could even write funny from a hospital bed. Last month during the Players, Stu suffered a recurrence of the colitis that first felled him last November. Though in excruciating pain, he insisted on fulfilling his assignments for two more weeks (he said it gave him "something to do"). But during the final round of the Colonial, Stu asked for a week off. His recovery had stalled, and he was contemplating surgery to have his colon removed.

Two days later, he was stricken with an infection. He was rushed to intensive care, but went into cardiac arrest and died. He was 52. He leaves a wife, Linda, and two sons, Matthew, 8, and Ben, 4. His passing was as cruel as it was swift. Five days later as I type this, I still can't believe it.

This week, in honor of the Players, the Denny's in Ponte Vedra Beach will be serving a Grand Slam Breakfast with five items. (May 11, 2007).

When I arrived in Connecticut from California in 1986 to begin work at the Golf Digest Publications (Golf World's parent), I couldn't afford my own place. The human resources director put me in touch with a guy named Stu Schneider, Golf Digest's public relations director. After promising him I didn't smoke, he invited me to move in. We lived together for almost four years.

Stu, a native of Long Island, introduced me to Madison Square Garden, Bethpage Black, Albert Brooks movies--and a quirky sense of humor (when his teenaged niece had nose surgery, instead of a get-well card, Stu mailed her a pair of plastic Groucho Marx glasses). I'd like to say we lived a swinging existence, but mostly we played golf and basketball and fought over who hadn't cleaned the lint filter in the dryer. Our most outrageous stunt was probably the year we wore red Converse high-tops with our tuxedoes to the company holiday party.

We both wanted to be golf magazine writers, and despite the fact that I was succeeding at that dream and he wasn't, we became close friends. When Stu and Linda were married in 1995, I was his best man (that's a picture of us from that day; Stu is the fashionably bald guy on the right). Two months later when I married Molly, Stu was one of my groomsmen. Afterward, Stu moved to California to become the editor of GolfWeb.

I can think of no greater void on earth right now than the one in the lives of Linda, Matthew and Ben. Farther down the list of those impacted by Stu's death are his teammates at Golf World. Finding a new TV critic will be hard--who else wants to watch 20 hours of golf coverage every week? Meanwhile, I guess I'll go back to writing "Front 9."

I have big shoes to fill.

For more tributes to Stu, check out the original post where several more great remembrances have been added in recent days. Also, information about a June 14 memorial at Bethpage State Park has been posted by Stu's brother, Brian