Do you know about the YouTube golf “community” comprised of channels where average Joe golfers publish videos of their on course adventures. There are a lot of average Joe YouTube channels with small subscriber numbers but then there are some of these “average Joe” YouTube golfers that make a living as “content developers” and are considered big “influencers” in golf. They are a self-described “community” because many do cross-channel content and there are even YouTube channels that just talk about what is going on in the YouTube golf space.
I pretty much stumbled across this whole YouTube golf thing. One day I went on YouTube to see if I could find a course review. I did not find a review but I did find a video of a guy playing the course I would be playing. His YouTube channel is Perfectly Average Golf. I found Alan, the golfer, to have a pleasant personality but I was really watching to see the layout of the golf course, not because I wanted to see him critique his game. After viewing that channel I started to get YouTube recommendations for other golf channels and it was crazy how many golfer “vlogs” exist on YouTube and now I have been watching a number of them and it is incredible how many channels have huge followers; and therefore they are making a living as YouTube Golfers.
Here are some of the most popular YouTube golfer channels. The information is from their “about section” on their channels on March 5, 2023.
- Rick Shiels Golf, 2.47 million subscribers, 650,669,633 views, joined YouTube in October 2011
- Good Good Golf, 1.14 million subscribers, 234,972,505 views, joined YouTube in July 2020
- GM Golf, 857,000 subscribers, 191,815,453 views, joined YouTube in April 2013
- Peter Finch Golf, 529,000 subscribers, 139,815,453 views, joined YouTube in October 2011
- Micah Morris Golf, 419,000 subscribers, 42,135,491 views, joined YouTube in October 2018
- Bob Does Sports, 390,000 subscribers, 47,603,737 views, joined YouTube September 2021
- Grant Horvat Golf, 345,000 subscribers, 28,328,887 views, joined YouTube April 2014
- Fore Play Golf, 297,000 subscribers, 94,279,403 views, joined YouTube January 2019
- Bryan Bros Golf, 198,000 subscribers, 24,611,743 views, joined YouTube March 2014
- Zac Radford, 122,000 subscribers, 56,679,596 views, joined YouTube April 2011
- Golficity, 81,300 subscribers, 24,818,435 views, joined YouTube September 2012
- Busta Jack, 79,600 subscribers, 5,342,020 views, joined YouTube October 2021
Rick Shiels it the “grand daddy” of them all. His numbers far exceed others with 2.47 million subscribers and total channel views of 650,669,633. He was a teaching professional and started years ago with teaching videos but expanded to other content, including matches. He doesn’t teach anymore and is solely focused on his YouTube Golfer job. His “Break 75” videos where he plays a course to see if he can break 75 is very popular. His last “Break 75” from Bay Hill (posted March 3rd, just five days prior to the writing of this post) has 618,767 views. I like watching the series because of the courses. My favorite is Royal Birkdale – Break 75 (again, to see a beautiful golf course I doubt I’ll ever visit myself). I actually ended up enjoying watching the golf because he had two other players with him trying to break specific scores.
If you’re not aware of the YouTube model it’s basically — reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours and you can join the YouTube partner program and monetize your channel. Basically, there is a YouTube algorithm, which embeds advertisements into every video and pays the creators depending on how many people watch the ads, and for how long. Also once your content is posted and it continues to get views you can potentially make money forever on the content (even if the video is five years old). Another revenue stream is that once you become popular, companies approach you for promotional deals. Many of these YouTube golfers have apparel deals. They even get deals for non-golf products. I’ve seem them promoting shaving products, alcohol (mostly beer and hard cider), food meal preparation kits, and (not surprising) sports betting companies.
In the last few months some of the channels have gotten so big that brands like Callaway and TaylorMade are sponsoring the YouTube Golfers. Think about it – A golf brand can spend marketing dollars on a Tour Pro that may or may not get TV time or spend money on a YouTube Golfer with over a million followers, posting content weekly, with half a million views per video. And these companies can use these YouTube channels to promote PGA and LPGA players. For example, Good Good and Callaway announced a deal on January 3, 2023. A few months later, on the “Good Good Extra” Channel a video, Knockout Bunker Challenge with LPGA Tour Winner Andrea Lee was posted. Lee is a Callaway Ambassador and gave the good good guys bunker tips and then they played a 5-bunker game. In the first hour on YouTube the video had over 11,000 views.
In general the golf “vlogs” follow familiar formats on each channel, golfers play a match or scramble and post two videos (front nine match video and back nine match video). Again, some of the channels are so popular that they have fans or golf industry contacts that invite them to play amazing courses (many private courses I’ll never play). The marketing impact for the golf courses can be significant too.
Also, adding legitimacy to these YouTube golfers is the fact that PGA tour players are guests on channels. Two fun matches to watch are Max Homa and Keegan Bradley on Bob Does Sports. Ricky Fowler has been on both Rick Sheils and Good Good Golf. Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood and others have been on Fore Play. Other players appearing on various channels are Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Kisner, Scott Stallings, Beau Hossler, and Billy Horschel.
Cross-channel content is a common format. YouTube golfers will play together and post content from their matches on their respective channels (usually a nine-hole competition on each channel). As a community this appears to be a way they really help each other build followings. It’s how I found out about many of the channels I have highlighted in this post. For example, Good Good Golf members have stated that the playing series they filmed with Rick Shiels helped them passed the million subscriber mark on their channel. I assume Rick Shiels benefited too with the young audience Good Good Golf most likely brought to his channel.
Also once you start watching you realize how various channels are connected. Good Good Golf was founded by Garrett Clark (GM Golf), his cousin Micah Morris and three other guys (who also have their own channels). It is now a huge brand with a very popular apparel line. I found it fascinating that Garrett Clark said at age nine, he watched the Bryan Bros on YouTube and knew that is what he wanted to do – be a YouTuber. This year a “big drama” in the YouTube community developed because Micah Morris and Grant Horvat, who where part of Good Good Golf, left the group (channel) to do “their own thing.”
Rick Shiels and Good Good have great content but some of my favorite channels are currently Bob Does Sports, Busta Jack, and Golficity. Bob Does Sports has three unique guys (Bobby Fairways, Joey Coldcuts, and Fat Perez) with different golf skills and they can be very funny. And Bob Does Sports is a popular channel for Pros to go on and play a match (the pro against the three guys playing scramble). BustaJack is a newer channel and gaining popularity. They are pretty good golfers and have a series “Golfin’ Old Glory” where they are playing a course in every state. Golficity have played a lot of pretty courses in the the Northeast and one of the main reasons I watch the videos is to see courses I may never get to play (e.g., Sleepy Hollow). Every now and then the YouTube Golfers will have silly “challenges” which I think are gimmicky and not of interest to me but perhaps these “challenges” (like Bob Does Sports Taco eating on the course) appeal to their target audience.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the female YouTube golfers. Their presence on YouTube is small compared to the men. A few women female YouTube golfers are well known because they participate on popular channels (e.g., Hanna Cook on Barstool). In this post, I will just highlight the few female YouTube golfers I’m aware of that have their own channels and play matches. I did find a few female golfers with large subscribers but to me their content was more lifestyle brand focused (with little golf playing content) so I am not highlighting those channels.
- Paige Spiranac, 391,900 subscribers, 49,129,462 views, joined YouTube August 2016
- Claire Hogle, 103,000 subscribers, 16,155,935 views, joined YouTube January 2015
- Hailey Ostrom, 43,000 subscribers, 6,543,496 views, joined YouTube October 2019
- Mia Baker, 22,900 subscribers, 3,468,654 views, joined YouTube March 2020
- Gabby Golf Girl,12,400 subscribers, 413,495 views, joined YouTube January 2014
I’m not really a fan of Paige Spiranac’s social media presence overall since she does play up the “sexy golf girl” persona (especially on Twitter and Instagram) but it’s her way of marketing her brand and that is her choice. Regardless of how one might feel about her brand, you can’t ignore the numbers and she actually does post matches on her channel. Claire Hogle is a great golfer and has played with Garrett Clark and and other YouTube golfers. Mia Baker is a British golfer and more “average skills” but can be amusing.
Gabby Golf Girl is a 15 year old and has 125,000 Instagram followers and setup her “new” YouTube channel in February 2023 (even though YouTube has her joining in Jan 2014). She has game and she has done video matches with Bob Does Sports, Grant Horvat, and as of this writing, baseball star Johnny Damon. I think if she keeps creating the type of content she does that she will be big in the YouTube golf community given she’s only really been posting for a little over a month and with only six videos (and 14 shorts) she has 413,495 views. Her most recent video was Gabby playing a scramble format with Johnny Damon to see how low they could go with their scramble score; and pars were worth $100 and birdies $200. At the end of the video they went to a grocery store and paid people’s groceries up to “the money value of the final score.” Now that is unique content!
So I am now watching golf on YouTube more than on the golf channel. I still love to watch the Majors, a few PGA Tour events (e.g., Waste Management, The Players Championship), and the LPGA tour on TV. Honestly, I never thought I’d enjoy YouTube Golfers but I guess the saying “never say never” is true. I like to watch YouTube golf videos for three reasons. First, to see the beautiful golf courses. Second, I actually find some matches engaging while being entertained by some of the personalities. Third, I can get my golf watching fix when I want (and it’s what I choose to watch and not just whatever is available on TV).
Do you watch YouTube Golf and what is your favorite channel? Let me know in the comments below.