Punch Shots: Our 10 favorite GolfPass stories from 2021

Want to start 2022 off with some great golf writing? Check out these pieces.
The combination of a spectacular host course and pressure-packed format made for compelling golf viewing at the 2021 Walker Cup. In this photo, reigning U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci struggles out of a greenside bunker.

Why does golf obsess so many millions of people? One big reason is the fact that there are so many different kinds of ways to fall in love with it. You've got your professional tournament junkies. Your gearheads. Your swing tinkerers. Your travel connoisseurs. Your architecture geeks. Your history buffs. And on and on.

Golf is not one rabbit hole - it's a dozen or more. And at GolfPass, we are privileged to explore them with you. In 2021, the continuation and evolution of the game amid the COVID-19 pandemic led us to expand our own horizons and interrogate some less-mainstream topics.

We can't wait to show you what we have in the works for 2022. But first, we wanted to point out a few of our favorite stories to write in '21. Take a quick look and let us know your thoughts, either in the comments below or by reaching out to us - Jason Scott Deegan and Tim Gavrich - on social media.

Jason's favorite 5 stories of 2021

Forgive me. I was never good at math. I cheated by selecting six stories, but they're all worth another look.

With the vaccine rollout, 2021 gave me the opportunity to get back on the road several times. Experiencing courses first-hand and talking to golfers and head pros face-to-face is the best way to mine for story ideas that resonate with everyday golfers. I found two of my favorites on a June trip to Kauai. I had been to Kauai before years prior, but who knew I would discover, arguably, the world's best golf course snack and America's best golf course value? That's an impressive two-fer from a tiny Hawaiian island in the Pacific.

There's no reason this Hawaiian treat shouldn't be offered on the mainland.
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For $60 or less, Wailua Municipal Golf Course delivers spectacular ocean golf on Kauai.
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It's rare that a golf story moves the needle with Tom Doak, a prolific author himself, in addition to his status as one of the world's best golf architects. But he was so intrigued by my research into the golf courses with the world's most bunkers that he started a discussion of the piece on the GolfClubAtlas.com forum. I was honored.

Writing about the golf industry for two-plus decades, I like to pretend I know it all, but that's never the case when it comes to this crazy game. It's always good to find a story that expands your knowledge base. That was certainly the case while interviewing three USGA experts on overseeding. Whether you live in a southern state that overseeds or might visit one for a golf trip, there's some good nuggets of truth in here that might enlighten you as well.

And while I loved the experience at The Hay - the new Tiger Woods-designed short course at Pebble Beach - and the chance to expand my bucket list researching the world's incredible collection of golf resorts linked to the Marriott hotel chain, I'd be remiss if I didn't shout-out getting to interview two of my new golf heroes. Who wouldn't want to play golf until they're 100 or play at least one course in all 50 states? I've been lucky to tee up more than 1,000 courses in 20 countries in my career, but I'll probably never achieve what California's Bob Williams and New Hampshire's Roger Page have in their golf lifetimes. We all should aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Playing nine holes every Sunday helps Bob Williams stay sharp, physically and mentally.
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Roger Page finished his adventure with a whirlwind trip from Pebble Beach to Alaska to Maui.
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Tim's 5 favorite GolfPass stories to write in 2021

This was a busy year for me. In June, I became a father to Alice, who is even cuter and more joyful and just plain fun to be around than her mother and I could have ever imagined. So naturally, I snapped into action by indoctrinating her into golf, including by buying her a Ryder Cup onesie during a July trip to Whistling Straits.

Thanks to roving venues like Whistling Straits (the Ryder Cup) and Ocean Course (the PGA Championship) and annual host courses like TPC Sawgrass (the Players Championship) and Harbour Town (the RBC Heritage), 2021 was a showcase year for the way architect Pete Dye crafted courses to challenge the best golfers in the world.

One of the things that impresses me most about Dye's courses is that they rely less on raw length to challenge even the best (and most powerful) golfers in the world. Distance is big business within golf, but there have always been many ways to play the game at a high level. Golf's governing bodies will have to confront that fact in a few months as part of the USGA and R&A's joint assessment of equipment regulations, which I wrote about back in February.

One course that resists brute-force golf with every fiber of its being is Seminole Golf Club, which hosted the Walker Cup. Over the course of a May weekend, it coaxed some of the most exciting golf of the year out of the U.S.A. and GB&I teams of elite amateurs with impeccably firm and fast fairways and greens that rewarded strategic planning and finesse above all other on-course skills. The course is worthy of study by anyone with an appetite for golf course architecture knowledge.

Seminole is known as a Donald Ross masterpiece, but its history also includes key contributions from other architects. In the 1950s, Dick Wilson repositioned a few of its greens. In 2018, Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw restored the course to its originally beachy, rugged feel. Many great golf courses require a team effort. That point crystallized for me in November when I played in the Renaissance Cup, hosted by Tom Doak at Memorial Park Golf Course in Houston, which he and a talented cast of architects, builders and shapers transformed the course from a pleasant-enough but mundane parkland layout into one worthy of hosting the PGA Tour's Houston Open.

It was gratifying to share some of the infinite interesting nooks and crannies of the golf world with you in 2021. Here's to an equally enlightening 2022.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed and photographed more than 1,000 courses and written about golf destinations in 20 countries for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Instagram at @jasondeegangolfpass and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
Tim Gavrich is a Senior Writer for GolfPass. Follow him on Twitter @TimGavrich and on Instagram @TimGavrich.
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Punch Shots: Our 10 favorite GolfPass stories from 2021