Buffalo Sabres fans know Kevin Sylvester from the team’s television broadcasts over the past seven seasons, and now as the host of “Sabres Hockey Hotline” weekdays from 10 a.m.-Noon on WGR Radio. But some may not know of the broadcast veteran’s affinity for golf. That passion has driven him to write his first book, “The Married Man’s Guide to Golf,” a humorous look at how men can continue playing golf as they get older while life’s other responsibilities start to get in the way.
The book will be available via e-reader starting September 18, but Sabres fans can read the first chapter for free by clicking here.
Sylvester recently sat down with Kevin Snow of Sabres.com to discuss the book, and what people can expect from his first experience as an author.
What was your inspiration for the book, and how long has it been in the works?
My initial inspiration was sitting around, having a beer with some friends, and we were talking golf and telling golf stories. My one friend commented “For a guy who’s married with three kids, you play the most golf of anybody I know.” And it made me think, ‘Yeah, I do play a lot of golf … and how do I do it?’ I just kinda figured that I should write a book on how to do this. It’s been in the works for over a year and a half. I actually wrote the initial version while traveling on Sabres road trips during the winter and spring of 2011. But then I put it away last summer to see if it all applied to my golf game, or if there was anything new to add. And then I picked it back up once our season ended prematurely this past April, and went through a couple of rewrites with it.
In the introduction, you mention that an older gentleman named Tony played a big role in you finishing the book. Talk about that meeting and how it affected you.
I’d had some hesitation during one of the rewrites in early May. One day I went over to Diamond Hawk Golf Course in Cheektowaga, and I was just going to play nine holes. This guy pulls up in a cart and says “Hey, mind if I play?” I said ‘Sure, I’m just going to zip around nine holes.’ We just got to talk as golfers do, and it turns out I’d played with him before – shame on me for not remembering that we’d both belonged to a different golf course. He started telling me his story that he plays every day at 1 p.m. because he takes care of his ailing wife. He gets help from 1-5 p.m., so that’s his golf time. It inspired me to finish the book because here’s a guy who is dealing with a circumstance. He’s retired, he loves golf, loves his wife and family – and is doing his best to balance both. But he’s doing it every single day and he’s finding the time to do it. The book has a lot of humor in it, but it also has a way to find time to follow a passion or release for you. And as I got to talk to Tony, it was his release from the pressures of his life. It’s not easy to care for somebody, obviously. He wouldn’t say so, but I could tell this was his chance to just be a guy, a normal guy.
There is a lot of humor in the book, so how were you able to take such a serious story as a motivating tool?
Just playing golf and talking to him, I could see how affable he was and how much he enjoyed being out there. It just made me realize that I had to finish this thing. I had to finish the book for guys like him who find a way to get out there and enjoy being out there. I’d already had the book pretty much done, but just playing golf with him and enjoying his company, knowing what he has to go through every day to get to the golf course, it made me realize that I just had to finish the book. If he can go through that every day, then why can’t I put the book out?
Do you think some people will be surprised at your writing style, particularly some of the humorous anecdotes you use in the book?
Yes! As a matter of fact, a good friend of mine who I had read the book before I decided to go forward with it, he said to me “This thing’s pretty funny. I know you have a good sense of humor but I was laughing out loud.” He even read some passages to his wife, and she thought it was funny. He also said there was some stuff in the book that surprised him. It is different. It is not a hockey book, and it is not straight forward hockey commentary. There will be some things that people will be surprised by, but pleasantly surprised. The goal is to make people laugh, and also apply some of the stuff to their life. When people ask me, I describe the book as “sarcastic machismo.”
Throughout the book, you reference several situations about how guys should deal with balancing golf with their wife/girlfriend. With that in mind, how do you think your wife will react to the book?
She hasn’t read it yet. But I’m sure she will download it because she has a Kindle now. I’m okay with it. She’s great, very supportive of everything – all the travel that’s gone on, my passion for golf and the golf TV show. But there will probably be some conversations. But as I say “sarcastic machismo,” I put myself in a character when I wrote the book. It is based on my experience, the experiences of other golfers and guys that I know. It is not all me. I’ve golfed with a lot of people. Last summer I said that I sat on it, well that’s because I talked to some people about things, running ideas by them. By no means is it a biography. It is humor. Some of the ideas I do apply, some of the ideas are not my ideas. Some are from golfers that I’ve talked to during just regular conversations on a golf course. But when my wife reads it – or if one of her friends reads it – they might say “Does he really do that?” And she’ll know that I don’t. But I’m sure there are probably going to be some things where she asks me “Hey, do you really do this?” And….that might be interesting. But she does have a great sense of humor, probably a better one than me.
Along with the book, you recently launched a new web site – kevinsylvester.com. How did all of this come about?
I’ve been talking about doing a web site for years, kind of a ‘who is Kevin Sylvester?’ Because there is another Kevin Sylvester, and we’re both in the media. (Note: the “other” Kevin Sylvester works for CBC Radio Sports in Canada.) But I had contemplated doing it for a while. I think the book was the impetus to get the web site out there. I’m fortunate to be someone in the public eye, so it’s a way for people to contact me. I’m fortunate to have some other interests that the Sabres are very supportive of, and maybe it’s a way to differentiate that. But I’m very happy to be associated with the Buffalo Sabres and I believe it’s a two-way street. Everyone there has been nothing but supportive throughout this whole process.