People often ask where we get our writers. There are two main sources. One is from the outside, writers who have already established themselves on newspapers or other magazines. John Underwood, for example, came to us from the Miami Herald, Bob Jones from TIME. A second source is inside, from our own staff, people who came to us fresh from college and worked first as reporters, digging for material and checking stories for accuracy before becoming staff writers themselves. Frank Deford, for instance, and Curry Kirkpatrick.
Two new additions to our writing staff come from this second category. They are Larry Keith, who was a reporter in the college football department for four years and who this spring has been preparing scouting reports for the Baseball Issue; and Sarah Pileggi, who joined the magazine as a secretary, became a reporter two years later and has since been primarily responsible to the golf department. As golf reporter, she has helped cover U.S. and British Opens and the Masters, is familiar with courses from Pebble Beach to Troon, has interviewed people from Jack Nicklaus to unknowns.
Pileggi, whose husband is free-lance writer Nicholas Pileggi, comes from California, where in school she played virtually every game except golf. A graduate of Stanford, she was hired by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED after she took a six-month course at a leading secretarial school, where she says she was taught everything but the most important aspect of the job—how to make coffee. She claims to have been a terrible secretary; her former bosses disagree. In any case, an opening in the reporter ranks offered her an escape.
Being a woman in the world of golf has had both drawbacks and advantages for Pileggi. The merry countenance of Lee Trevino turned to a scowl when she approached him on a practice putting green, and his answers to her questions left her feeling that she was over her head—or over his, since at 5'9" Pileggi is two inches taller than Trevino. On the other hand, Sarah is definitely more noticeable at a tournament than the average journalist. Recently, she and a male writer from the magazine were having a sandwich in a clubhouse dining room when Arnold Palmer cruised through. "I have known Palmer slightly for years," relates the abashed writer. "Sometimes I get a nod, sometimes nothing, depending on his mood. With Sarah there, Palmer was all smiles and how're ya doin'."
During her years of checking other people's golf stories—"Now I can read things for pleasure, not accuracy," she beams—Pileggi found time to write several of her own. She has done articles on such players as Lanny Wadkins, Hubert Green and Jo Anne Carner, and she has twice covered the Women's Amateur. Her first story as a staff writer (page 68) is a look at a young man now gaining national prominence as a caddie, Andy Martinez, who works for Johnny Miller. Nor is golf her only interest; earlier this year she introduced SI readers to Martina Navratilova, the fast-rising Czechoslovakian tennis star. I think you'll enjoy Sarah's style as much as Arnie does.
PILEGGI: GOING FROM COFFEE TO TEE