In recent years, as traditional golf journalism has declined, a variety of YouTube channels have sprung up to vie for a small but active audience of golf nuts. While most of these channels are too lo-fi to enjoy, a few have begun to produce content of genuine depth and polish. Below you will find a list of five of my favorites.
First, though, four honorable mentions:
- With over 360,000 subscribers as of July 2017, Me and My Golf is, as far as I know, the most popular independent golf channel on YouTube. It is not among my favorites — it focuses on swing instruction, a domain of golf coverage that I have never found compelling — but its hosts, Andy Ward and Piers Proudman, seem like pleasant enough chaps, and their matching Adidas outfits are usually good for a chuckle.
- Dan Whittaker is yet another YouTube teaching pro, but he stands out as a particularly credible one.
- A relatively new channel, Teeuplo is still finding its voice, but the format that it has been exploring for the past several months — a mixture of chat shows, equipment reviews by the “Average Golfer,” and the occasional travel vlog — is intriguing. I’ll be curious to see where it goes.
- Handicap to Scratch chronicles a good golfer’s quest to become an excellent golfer. (I can relate.) Brett Parker, the creator and host of the channel, chooses interesting topics and keeps his vlogs concise. Like Teeuplo, Handicap to Scratch still needs to fine-tune its format and production, but it has potential.
Now for my top five…
Golfholics began earlier this year, but it already has a clear identity and immaculate production values. The channel specializes in “course vlogs,” which follow rounds that the San Diego-based hosts Marko Nikolic and Mike Reifeiss play at various golf courses on the West Coast of the U.S. The videos focus on the courses rather than the banter, weaving in exquisite drone shots and well-chosen backing tracks. (The use of a frothy 2Pac/Biggie remix in a recent installment was a touch of class.) Most important, Nikolic and Reifeiss play some outstanding venues: last month, on a trip to my neck of the woods, they made vlogs at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Pasatiempo, and the Olympic Club. Not bad.
As hosts, Nikolic and Reifeiss are low-key, pleasant, and very San Diegan. In future videos, I would like to see other dimensions of their personalities. I also hope that they find more ways to get out of San Diego, which, for all of its perfect weather, has a lot of bland golf courses.
4) Fried Eggs
Maintained by a golf-shop dude in Indiana, this channel is a heavy dose of Midwestern weird. Creator and host Randy Smith has not settled on a consistent format, but maybe he shouldn’t; the randomness of his videos is part of their charm. My favorites are the “Golf Shop” sketches, which strike a tone of knowing, homemade absurdism. The channel is probably best known for its rap spoofs — especially, you know, that one. (“The G30 driver’s got turrr-bulators, got turrr-bulators, got turr-bulators….”) Although the “white-guy-throwing-on-a-track-suit-and-spitting-parody-rhymes” genre isn’t really my bag, I can’t deny that Randy Smith has a way with an earworm. (“… got turrr-bulators, got turrr-bulators….”)
Since Smith appears to have a full-time job at Bobick’s Golf, he may never be able to generate the volume of content that Rick Shiels, Peter Finch, and Mark Crossfield do. But if he manages to free up more time in his schedule, I hope that he introduces more visual polish to his talking-head “Over Easy” and “Hard Boiled” segments while retaining the scrappy feel of the “Golf Shop” videos.
3) Rick Shiels
Most would consider Rick Shiels, Peter Finch, and Mark Crossfield to be the big three of golf YouTube. All are British teaching pros, but they have different formats, styles, and personalities. To add to the intrigue (for me, at least), Shiels and Finch, who are close friends and collaborators, once clashed with Crossfield on Twitter. Bad blood?
(Probably not. I just think that golf YouTube could use some drama.)
Of the big three, Shiels runs the most conventional channel, a mix of hitting-bay club reviews, course vlogs, and instructional videos. He executes these genres well and has a confident, energetic style of presentation. As Finch and Crossfield experiment with their formats, Shiels seems well positioned to poach viewers who want straightforward, slickly edited golf content. Indeed, as of July 2017, his subscriber count is within 1,000 of Crossfield’s. For my part, though, I am more excited about the new territories that Finch and Crossfield are exploring.
2) Peter Finch
Perhaps the most articulate and ambitious golf YouTuber, Peter Finch eschews equipment reviews in order to focus on types of videos that no one else does as well. His “Quest for the Open” vlogs, in which he details his efforts to become a player capable of qualifying for the British Open, have genuine artistic merit, and his weekly Q&A sessions, “Tech Tuesday” and “Finch Friday,” are entertaining and enlightening. Indeed, the “Tech Tuesday” series is probably the best regular round-up of golf equipment news anywhere on the internet.
Finch comes off as a smart, genial guy (who has, it should be noted, excellent taste in whiskey), and of all the creators on this list, he is the one I would most like to play golf with.
Crossfield is the most divisive personality on golf YouTube. (Okay, maybe he’s the only divisive personality on golf YouTube.) He has strong opinions on swing technique, equipment, and the state of the game, and he doesn’t mince words when addressing people he considers ill informed. Although he would likely refuse to admit it, he seems to relish controversy. See his staredown last year with TaylorMade, or his ongoing feud with Sky Sports, or his battle a couple of weeks ago with the head of Lynx Golf UK.
No doubt Crossfield has rubbed a few people the wrong way, but I almost always find him… well, correct about things. Above all, though, he makes compulsively watchable videos. His course vlogs with Matthew “Coach” Lockey are by turns goofy, annoying, and insightful. His on-course tests of new clubs, while occasionally predictable (Crossfield has his hobbyhorses), are more interesting than the usual launch monitor-assisted equipment reviews.
Most impressively, every weekday, Crossfield posts a “daily vlog” in which he offers an analysis of a viewer’s swing and a glimpse into his home life. These videos are produced at a rate of five per week, yet they are always well edited and engaging. No one else on golf YouTube does anything like them. I have particularly enjoyed the recent vlogs that have veered off format — to document an actual lesson given by Crossfield or to show a testy phone exchange with a reporter — before returning him to his charming family and their domestic routines.
Me and My Golf may have more subscribers and Shiels may be catching up, but Crossfield is the liveliest, most inventive, and — to my mind — best creator of golf videos on YouTube.
Have I missed your favorite golf YouTuber? Did Mark Crossfield make you mad at some point? Do you find course vlogs ridiculously boring? Tell me off in the comments or on Twitter at @public_golfer.