Dare we say everything in the golf world is starting to make sense? A horse named Dornoch won the Belmont Stakes, and a week later a hoss named DeChambeau wins by a nose over another favorite down the stretch at Pinehurst. We felt this was coming. Four weeks ago, 36 hours after Bryson DeChambeau left Kentucky drained from a thrilling Sunday 65 and runner-up finish to Xander Schauffele at the PGA Championship, he welcomed a Golf Digest production crew into his under-construction Dallas home with enthusiasm. He loves the camera, and more than ever, the camera loves him right back.

This is curious because not many eyeballs are seeing LIV. Even the majors and the PGA Tour, from which DeChambeau was an early defector, are wrestling with down ratings this year. The TV executives have plausible excuses—incomplete accounting for streaming, fluky weather, an early season string of no-name winners—but the direction the grass blades are fluttering is clear. All the fighting among wealthy tour pros has grown tiresome, and much of the pandemic boom of new golfers and golf fans has settled its attention elsewhere.


YouTube. As the U.S. Open is to golf, it is the most meritocratic of the content platforms.

It’s as if a golf audience of perhaps five or 10 million people has sprouted overnight. On-demand any hour of any day, most of the content is average golfers playing average courses for low stakes. DeChambeau is the exception. Although several pros are active on social media, no world-class players have leaned into making long-form YouTube content with the same zeal as DeChambeau. Padraig Harrington films shorter swing tips, and the next biggest channel belongs to The Bryan Bros (Wesley won a lone PGA Tour event in 2017). As of this writing, DeChambeau’s 93 produced videos, which include playing an entire round with Walmart clubs and another where he tries to break 50 with a scramble partner from the red tees, have racked up nearly 70 million views.

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“I want to have a relationship with fans so they can know the true me,” DeChambeau says. Quick to acknowledge personal growth, the 30-year-old says he now knows himself better, too. “I’m playing to entertain and inspire a new generation, and my mindset has shifted to where I can look into a camera and see those people.”

The lighter LIV schedule permits time for filming with his production crew, aka Collective. Still, few would blame a U.S. Open champion for thinking he was “above” this space, whose other stars are scrappy albeit magnetic characters. Sam (Riggs) Bozoian of Fore Play Sports (449,000 subscribers) shows every shot of his 83 in the desert across 41 minutes, commenting mid-round, “I’m trying to psych myself into thinking I’m drunk so I play better.” Middle-handicapper Robby Berger, better known as “Bob Does Sports,” invites pal “Joey Cold Cuts” to Torrey Pines but then takes him to a scruffy muny instead, a pranky disappointment that has nearly 3 million views. Good Good is a cast of golfers whose youth, looks, positivity and talent are akin to a boy band (several are solid plus-handicaps) complete with a gossipy history of members leaving to pursue solo projects. The advertising revenue generated by their regular output of popular videos has permitted increasingly sophisticated productions and yet is dwarfed by their online apparel sales.

“The long-term goal is to build a golf company that can compete alongside brands like Callaway and TaylorMade,” says Good Good co-founder Matt Kendrick, who achieved essentially this with his other recreational passion, fishing. In 2016, Kendrick helped create Googan Squad by assembling a group of angler Instagrammers with minor followings, then applied tighter edits and strategies to their videos. You can now purchase Googan Squad fishing poles in Dick’s Sporting Goods. “It’s the same playbook,” Kendrick says. “Build a brand around entertaining, fun content and back it up with great product.”

Like any marketplace, YouTube Golf is competitive, yet the aforementioned personalities—plus notables such as Rick Shiels, Paige Spiranac, Grant Horvat, Garrett Clark and Erik Anders Lang—regularly collaborate by getting together to play golf and pressing record. The narrative devices get recycled—matches with unusual formats, experiments with equipment, inventive challenges, odd destinations—but the result is almost always increases in views and subscribers for all parties.

Though these folks have carved nice livings, DeChambeau, captain of LIV’s Crushers Golf Club, has all the money any great-grandchildren will ever need. Still, he mixes it up alongside them. If there’s a common thread, it’s that the new Golf YouTubers are all demonstrating how to have fun playing golf.

That’s a lesson that can’t be taught enough.

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This article was originally published on golfdigest.com