The explosion of golf podcast continues, seemingly unabated. And there is clearly a market for them. This is my third annual review of the best golf podcasts and, in those years, the golf podcast review blog has been in the top 5 pages visited on my website.
Last year I discussed what makes a good golf podcast. This year I will dwell a bit on what I like about my regular listens (with a little constructive feedback where appropriate!). It would be almost impossible to listen every week to all of the different options out there, but, if you are looking for some pointers on which ones to try, hopefully this 2018 golf podcast guide will help.
NO LAYING UP
The phenomenon that is No Laying Up continues. The team behind it have even given up their day jobs and are turning a podcast and twitter account into a whole franchise.
The brand has grown up quickly as it has found its position in the golf world. They are not just producing ‘hot takes’ and frat style ‘banter’. Instead there is thoughtful commentary and analysis delivered in an engaging way. As an aside (not strictly about podcasts) if you want to see one of the best 'new media' course write-ups ever in the world of golf, then have a look at this essay on Tara Iti.
On the podcast front they have had a great year. They have really developed their commentary on golf course architecture (the Mike Clayton episode was a real highlight) and in-depth player interviews (Matt Fitzpatrick was a goodie). Just this week, the Mark Broadie interview took the discussion around shots gained far beyond what you would have expected from a podcast a couple of years ago.
They have moved the podcast a little away from discussion of specific tour events (which they are picking up on Periscope and Twitter) and towards less time-sensitive broadcasts and this has worked well. I think the strongest podcasts this year have been those where Solly (or, at the most, one other person) have been interviewing.
The Dustin Johnson interview was really the only miss for me, and that’s because it sounded at times like a gaggle of fan-boys trying to ingratiate themselves with the world's number 1 golfer. The standard for pretty much every other podcast over the year (and there has been one a week on average) has been tremendously high.
As you can tell, I am a massive fan. They have commercial support from Callaway but it is never intrusive. I hope that the move to full time works for them. Intelligent commentary, delivered in an engaging manner, is a great combination that deserves to flourish.
STATE OF THE GAME
Here, I am in danger of repetition from last year. State of the Game is the best in the business. The combination of Rod Morri, Geoff Shackleford and Mike Clayton is gold-dust. However, their podcasts are so few and far between these days that they may need to be retired from the list. Fortunately, Morri hosts the iSeekgolf podcast now, Shackleford has his Shackhouse and Clayton has the media profile of a Kardashian these days, so you can hear plenty from all of them in various places. I would argue though that they are never better than when together.
THE FRIED EGG
Andy Johnson from the Fried Egg has perhaps done more than anyone else over the last couple of years to promote discussion about golf course architecture. His website offers a huge depth of resources on the subject and, if you are looking for a starter, I would thoroughly recommend his golf architecture 101 section.
Last year I was a little critical of Andy’s broadcasting style. It did take me a little while to get used to his voice, which, for some reason, brought to mind a small town, American serial killer. Anyway, I have got used to it now and can see past this! Serial killer or not, he has some great in-depth discussions with illuminating experts in the world of architecture - the recent ‘Yolk with Doak’ series being a particular highlight.
THE ISEEKGOLF.COM PODCAST
I wrote last year of the emergence of this Australian-based podcast and now, a year (and 50 broadcasts) on, it has definitely found a firm place in my must-listens. As you'd expect, there is an Antipodean slant to the commentary and guests, but that is rarely an issue for those of us at the other side of the world.
Rod Morri, of State of the Game fame, is the main host with Adrian Logue alongside and they are knowledgeable and articulate, as it frequent contributor Mike Clayton. These guys are unashamedly traditionalist in their outlook but still recognise that the game has to adapt to thrive and grow and they have much to offer on this subject.
In a golf podcast innovation, they have introduced a ‘Book Club’ section where they encourage you to read a book in advance and then they discuss it with an expert/the author. A nice idea which has produced some strong content so far.
Geoff Shackleford is one of the best voices in the game today and I am a huge fan of his volume of work. He is clearly a bright guy who understands golf architecture and the professional game on a deep level. He is able to bring much of this insight to the Shackhouse podcasts. However, I think that a couple of years in, they could do with having a look at some of its basic feature.
Firstly, the advertising is just way too intrusive. One recent broadcast had more than 3 minutes of advertising before getting to the golf discussion. Also, reading out statements about Callaway being the best equipment manufacturers in golf, as if they are the broadcasters' opinions, just doesn't ring true (especially since Shackleford said on a State of the Game show that everyone knew Titleist was the best ball in golf!). I also could do without the regular attempts to make me listen to the co-host’s food podcast.
Secondly, they should cut back on the golf betting talk - at times it feels like it is just a fantasy golf/betting podcast. Such a waste of Shackleford’s insight.
And thirdly, I think they need to really question the balance of time devoted to Shackleford’s knowledge and House’s ‘average fan’ chat. I really don’t know what the latter brings to the listener.
I do still listen but it feels like they are only scratching the surface of what we could get from possibly the strongest voice in the game.
The title of this podcast is a bit of a misnomer. Unfortunately these podcasts has been somewhat sporadic over the last 6 months. However, when one does come out, I am quick to listen as it is one of the very best.
This is an Irish based pod from a national talk radio station so there is a clear skew towards all things Irish. But, like the iseekgolf.com podcast this in no way diminishes the output. Ex-European Tour player Peter Lawrie is now a regular contributor and he brings a new level of insight to proceedings.
This podcast is pretty focused on discussing current European and PGA events so I find it is best listened to fresh - you don't get much from dipping into the back-catalogue. Having said that, any of the episodes with Paul Kimmage or Padraig Harrington will stand the test of time and are worth a listen.
The broadcasts are ad free - I think they are basically done on the side by presenters of other programmes - and the relaxed style is instantly listenable. I just wish they actually were weekly.
Some of these are great, others I swerve and subject matter is key here. The ones that engage me are normally hosted by Alan Shipnuck. Shipnuck’s style has come on a lot over the last couple of years. He has always been a great writer but came across quite formally in the early days of podcasting.
He seems to be more relaxed now and is never better than when in conversation with fellow journalist Michael Bamberger. Those episodes, often involving reminisces of covering great events of the past, really do have a richness you don’t find elsewhere in the world of golf.
SOME NEW ADDITIONS
I’ve listened to most of the above for a good length of time and would have no hesitation in recommending them. There are others that I dip into from time to time but have failed to make it into my list - The First Cut with Kyle Porter, The Clubhouse with Shane Bacon and The PostCast.
There are some newcomers though which have impressed so far. I will be auditioning them over the months ahead for next year's review -
THE GOLFER’S JOURNAL
The podcast offshoot from the new high-class golf publication ‘The Golfer’s Journal’ has had a strong start. It acts as a companion-piece to the Journal itself (review on that to come) as well as bringing stand alone episodes of interest.
THE CUT: THE BBC GOLF PODCAST
Why they didn’t name this ‘The Chipping Forecast’ I will never know. However, this recent addition from the BBC duo of Iain Carter and Andrew Cotter has made a good start. They are voices who really should be heard more than just during the main BBC golf coverage, so well done to them and the BBC for deciding to go down the podcast route. The rest of the world will benefit from our licence fee too! Hopefully they will keep up a regular output and bring on some strong guests. I don’t think the hole left by the ByTheMin podcast has ever been properly filled, hopefully The Cut can do just that.
SKY SPORTS GOLF PODCAST
This isn’t really that new, in fact they have pumped out an episode pretty much every week for over a year. I hadn’t got around to listening until recently though because I do find the Sky Sports studio coverage a little bland. But, from what I have heard, this podcast has an energy and zip to it, with good guests from the European Tour and I think it will make it into my main list next year.
FEED THE BALL
This is a relatively new podcast with golf course architecture at the core of most of the interviews so far. The host, golf journalist Derek Duncan, is incredibly knowledgeable and has a very natural presentation style. He doesn’t get in the way of his guests but, from what I've heard so far, they feed off each other. Probably one for the more hard-core architecture fan, but the recent Peter Kessler interview was one of the best I have heard for a long time.
If you are looking to find a golf podcast to add to your schedule, I hope you have found this useful. There are some others out there, and more are springing up all the time, so please do let me know if you think there are any I should add to my list ahead of the 2019 review!