On the Twitter bandwagon

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – This story is going to be longer than 140 characters, so forgive me for not posting it on Twitter.

(Twitter, you say? We’ll get to that in a minute.)

I can, however, break it down into 140-character maximum paragraphs, if that helps.

Because, really, I’m only following the biggest, hottest trend to hit Augusta National since the green jacket.

Blasphemy, you say?

Well, then swallow this Twitter pill: I was told under the clubhouse tree today by a representative of Jack Nicklaus that they have been seriously thinking about getting Jack a Twitter account. (He already has a Facebook page.)

Alas, let the Twittering begin:

• What is Twitter? A real-time, 140-maximum character messaging service that allows users to read and send updates – also known as “tweets.”

• My calculations say Twitter has quadrupled the number of “tweets” at the Masters this year. Take that, birds and candy vendors.

• Who’s on Twitter? The Masters, Stewart Cink, Shaquille O’Neal, Titleist, Morgan Pressel, to name a few.

• Cink got into it two months ago after seeing a story on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption” involving NBA player Chris Bosh.

• Since I started writing this story, Cink’s number of followers has jumped 15 spots to 2,201. He’s been on for about two months.

• “My kids are 15 and 12 and they stay home almost all the time now... never come out to tournaments anymore,” Cink said.

• “So I’m by myself most of the time out on the road, so I just have time to surf around and find out about stuff like this.”

• Cink’s son, Connor, showed him how to set up his account, but now hasn’t posted since Dad hopped on the bandwagon.

• “I can sort of let my personality come through the messages to all the people. I’ve got good responses, men and women,” Cink said.

• “I’ve got tons of women that are following – I’m not saying that I want a woman, because I’ve got a wife,” Cink said laughing.

• “It’s just good to have both, because by and large, the fans out here are men, and it’s good to get both.”

• Cink (@stewartcink) has tweeted 173 times so far this lifetime, three during his practice round Wednesday.

• Yesterday, he tweeted: “Over at my parents’ house dropping off Wednesday Masters tickets” (63 characters).

• Today he tweeted: “Patrons behind twelve tee. Much nicer today. Good attendance every year for practice rounds” (91 characters).

• And: “Zach ripping a draw off tenth tee at 10:45am Wed. http://twitpic.com/3036q (74 characters).” That link is to a picture, or “twitpic.”

• (For the record, that last post was 140 characters on the dot, and I wasn’t even trying. I am Twitter Woods!)

• My favorite Cink tweet of the week: “Every year presents some Masters goodies. http://twitpic.com/2wgxx” (66 characters).

• That twitpic was of a pair of green and yellow Nike sneakers, with “CINK” embroidered on the side.

• “I thought that it was a neat way to just make a direct, unfiltered contact with the fan base,” said Cink.

• “I get to tell (my fans) things about me that I can’t get through the camera lens, and that I can’t get through between the ropes.”

• “I can’t interact with everyone at the Masters. I’d like to, but I can’t.”

• As I’m writing this tweet, The Masters (@The_Masters) has 16,488 followers. (Not to mention a new iPhone application.)

• The Masters communications department says the number of followers has “quadrupled” each of the last few days.

• Over the winter, the Masters identified that Twitter would be a very useful and creative way to reach people.

• Three examples: “How quickly the buzz spreads among the patrons. Seen on the driving range: Jack and Arnie.”

• “An improved change to the classic Masters lunch: The popular barbecue sandwich is now served hot, as suggested by the patrons. Costs $2.50.”

• “An army of mowers are out preparing the grounds at dusk. Temps are dropping, Tuesday patrons should dress warmly.”

• The person tweeting for the Masters, “their ghostwriter” as Cink calls him, only has one job this week: To tweet.

• To tweet or not to tweet? Apparently, that is the fittingly-short question.

• Shaquille O’Neal is perhaps the most famous tweeter. He even gives incentive to follow along, as you will see in the next post.

• “Anybody in portland touches me rt now will get two tickets I'm at redstar cafe,” Shaq tweeted March 26.

• Morgan Pressel tweeted today: “Practicing in pants and long sleeves today...much too cool for Florida in April!”

• From Kraft: “Going to play a new x-tour wedge with more bounce and the tour i golf ball this week - looking for birdies tomorrow!!”

• Cink enjoys Twitter more when the talk turns to topics other than golf. He recently told people he was thinking about buying a truck.

• “They like to ask me about my truck,” Cink said. “That’s the best thing I can do is float things and just let the responses flow in.”

• This is the first week Cink has heard comments about his tweeting from gallery members. “Sixteenth tee somebody made a comment,” he said.

• When he “floats things,” Cinks says that’s when his number of followers grows.

• Since my last check about 25 minutes ago, Cink has added 40 more followers, bringing his total to 2,241.

• In about that same time, the Masters’ followers has jumped to 16,679, an increase of 191, or a rate of just under 8 people/minute.

• Zach Johnson, who played his practice round with Cink Wednesday, said he noticed Cink tweeting “quite a lot.”

• But when asked if he ever considered doing it, Johnson said, “Nooooooooo.”

• He won his green jacket in the pre-Twitter Masters era, though. Then again, he may want to speak with Mr. Nicklaus.

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