My mother swears my writing career began when I was about 2 and couldn’t keep my hands off books. Since then, I’ve put a pen to everything from college entry essays for friends to technical abstracts to sports copy for a toy in production. A personal highlight was a proclamation declaring a friend’s birthday “Dishonorable Derelict Day,” written on a brown bag that had formerly held a six-pack. Oh, and I wrote a lot of newspaper and magazine articles, starting in high school, where I edited the Patterson Press, and college, where I was sports editor of the University of Maryland’s daily Diamondback.
In the locker room
I wanted to be Woodward or Bernstein, but so did every other budding writer — journalism school enrollment was at an all-time high. Having been a sports nut since my dad took me out to Memorial Stadium to watch Johnny Unitas in the rain and snow, I decided to join the wave of women sportswriters, and went to work at the Baltimore News American right out of college. After three years there, I joined the original staff at USA Today, serving duty on the sports copy desk and then covering soccer and general assignment sports and sports features until 1985.
That’s when I discovered California and started looking west for a new job. The Sacramento Bee hired me to cover the Oakland A’s, who went from terrible to terrific during my years on the beat. In 1986 I became known as “The Rat Lady” after a player sent me a gift-wrapped rat to bring attention to what he considered to be the injustice of women entering the clubhouse; that backfired, ultimately costing him his job and motivating me to join three other women sportswriters in forming the Association for Women in Sports Media in 1987. The baseball writing experience inspired me to write a memoir called “Lady in the Locker Room,” which was published in 1993 and received great reviews. In 2014, CBS Films purchased the motion picture option for the book and my life story, and so an updated edition of the book was released.
On a panel with AWSM co-founders Kristin Huckshorn, left, and Nancy Cooney, right.
I left the Bee in 1992 and freelanced for magazines and corporate clients. There was an exciting stint in media relations for World Cup Soccer 1994 at Stanford, and then a return to the newspaper business and a 15-year journey through a delightful variety of jobs at the San Francisco Examiner and then Chronicle. These included news copy desk editor, sports copy desk editor, golf writer, real estate section staffer, features copy editor, home-and-garden reporter, general feature writer, and, finally, travel editor. I moonlighted for two years to complete work on a paralegal certificate at S.F. State in 2005. I also wrote a second book, Northern California Golf Getaways, with Cori Kenicer (now Brett) – again, great reviews.
A digital re-start
In 2009 I left the Chronicle and moved to Oakland, California, to pursue new opportunities in the endlessly interesting world of writing. Within a year, I had launched GottaGoGolf, the online magazine for women who love the game (and who miss Golf For Women magazine). The magazine premiered Oct. 1, 2010, and went monthly on Feb. 1, 2011. Following a March 2012 edition of the magazine, a new website was launched to build the brand and grow traffic for a renewed publishing cycle when funding allowed.
In the meantime, in September 2012 I got a digital magazine on the San Francisco 49ers up and running in just eight days at the San Francisco Chronicle. Then I went to work on my next book, Confessions of a Golf Slut. This book — a memoir about the amazing gifts I have received, not because I am good at golf but just because I play — is the one that should make every woman want to take up the game.
In 2015, GottaGoGolf Magazine published four digital issues in partnership with the Women’s Golf Alliance and then was redesigned as a WordPress site. Today, GottaGoGolf Magazine continues as GottaGoGolf.com. The magazine’s more than 4,500 subscribers receive monthly email newsletters and keep in touch on the Facebook page.
In 2016, everything changed. I got married and joined my husband’s Blue Coast Media Group, which has been a successful business writing services provider and now has custom publishing capacity. Our clients have included Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deloitte.
We moved to Denver. I continued freelancing and consulting, for clients including ColoradoBiz, Gemspot Putters and the Pacific Women’s Golf Association. I joined The Grain, a digital magazine with 1.7 million circulation, as Senior Editor, Women’s Golf. And I began to market my own Women Welcome golf consulting services, intended to help golf courses develop, attract and keep more women customers.
My first task in 2017: Give SusanFornoff.com a makeover. Susan Fornoff continues to thrive as a writer, editor, publisher, speaker and consultant. I hope the new site does her justice.