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Year in Review

Our favorite Golf Digest portraits of 2022

December 28, 2022

Great photography is a pillar of Golf Digest, and most of what we do falls into three categories. With Instruction Photography we try to convey as cleanly and memorably as possible physical lessons about how to swing a golf club. With Course Photography, we tease and provide transport to the most beautiful landscapes our strategic game offers. With the third category, Portrait Photography, our goal is to capture the inherent character of the most intriguing people in the sport by playing with endless permutations of composition, posing and lighting. What follows is a collection of what we consider our most successful portrait photography of 2022.

Collin Morikawa

In a cover instruction story that offers as much about cultivating mental fortitude as swing mechanics, photographer Peter Yang helped capture the duality of Collin Morikawa, whose nice-guy persona and consistent game belie cold-blooded competitive instincts. (Photography by Peter Yang)

Morgan Hoffmann

Morgan Hoffmann was once on a known trajectory. Raised in an affluent northeast suburb, scholarship to a blue-chip university, the former No. 1-ranked amateur in the world began a PGA Tour career as he signed lucrative endorsement contracts and settled in Jupiter, Fla., alongside the game's elite. But a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy changed everything in his life and, oddly, maybe even for the better. Writer Dan Rapaport and photographer Adam Glanzman found Hoffmann in the jungle of Costa Rica, where he is still searching for alternative healing methods and discovering a wholly fresh perspective. (Photography by Adam Glanzman)

CC Sabathia

Former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia has found health and happiness in golf. After two decades in the major leagues, the 2007 Cy Young Award winner and 2009 World Series champ is in the best shape of his life—and a healthy addiction to golf has a lot to do with it for the recovering alcoholic. Writer Alex Myers and photographer Steve Boyle met up with Sabathia at his home course in New Jersey to capture the upbeat attitude—and direction—the game has given him in retirement. (Photography by Steve Boyle)

Hideki Matsuyama

Golf instruction already is a language of its own, which made conveying a lesson from the mind of Japanese star and 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama to our mostly English-speaking readership even more challenging. But Senior Instruction Editor Ron Kaspriske teamed successfully with photographer Yuri Hasegawa—a fluent Japanese speaker—to bridge the gap. In both film and in words, Hasegawa helped identify the real "magic move" of Matsuyama's swing, which is not his distinctive pause at the top but rather a lateral shift with his right foot. (Photography by Yuri Hasegawa)

Mardy Fish

Former tennis star Mardy Fish has been open about his struggles with anxiety and how golf has helped. One of the trailblazing athletes in terms of speaking out about mental health, Fish is now the U.S. Davis Cup captain and a celebrity golf star. Writer Alex Myers dove into Fish’s immense athletic talents while photographer Jensen Larson portrayed him on the playing surface that brought him so much success, but also so much internal anguish. (Photography by Jensen Larson)

Demi Bagby

Energy and positivity emanate from Demi Bagby. The 21-year-old has a major fitness Instagram account with 2.5 million followers. She has taken on just about every fitness challenge you can think of: bodybuilding, soccer, CrossFit, parkour, surfing, skateboarding, cheerleading, boxing, martial arts. Our Keely Levins talked to her about her latest pursuit: golf. To show how golf fits into her busy life, photographer Gabe L’Heureux followed Bagby for a day as she skateboarded, flipped and played golf through San Diego. (Photography by Gabe L’Heureux)

Luc Esquivel

As a freshman in high school, Luc Esquivel wanted to try out for the boys' high school golf team. But a Tennessee state law targeting transgender athletes forbade the mid-80s shooter from getting a chance. Identified as female and named "Lucy" at birth, Luc sensed differently in his head and his heart than how he saw his twin sister relate to the world. Writer Joel Beall spent time with Luc and his family to better understand the reality of being at the center of a contentious national debate as a 14-year-old, while photographer Houston Cofield seized Luc's preternatural dignity and determination with a lens. (Photography by Houston Cofield)

Adam Granduciel

The guitarist of the Grammy-winning band The War on Drugs finds musical inspiration on the course. He uses his local par-3 course as a respite, and even incorporated it into the band’s latest album. Writer Alex Myers examined the role golf played in Adam Granduciel’s music and photographer Darren Carroll captured the frontman at an Austin muny in between tours. (Photography by Darren Carroll)

Akshay Bhatia

Not everyone agreed with phenom Akshay Bhatia when he turned professional as a teenager, skipping college in the process. For a while, it looked like all criticism was warranted: Bhatia struggled as a pro, missing every cut his first season. Writer Keely Levins talked to Bhatia about how the pandemic presented an opportunity for rebuilding. In January 2022, Bhatia was a new player, silencing the haters with his first professional win. Photographer John Loomis took this photograph when Bhatia was home in North Carolina in between Korn Ferry events. (Photography by John Loomis)

Cam Smith

Just a couple months before his first major victory at The Open, Cam Smith invited Golf Digest to his home in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. Like a good host, Smith trotted out all his favorite toys: his boat, his fishing poles, his course-grade mower, and even his wedges for a chipping lesson. Editor Ron Kaspriske, writer Evin Priest and photographer Michael Schwartz went with the flow to gather this intimate cover story. (Photography by Michael Schwartz)

Casey Martin

Amputation was always a likely destiny for Casey Martin, who won a Supreme Court case against the PGA Tour in 2001 for the right to use a cart in competition to accommodate a rare circulatory disorder in his leg. As much as this high-profile lawsuit advanced the tenets of the Americans with Disabilities Act in public, within the game Martin continued to battle a pervasive lack of sympathy and acceptance. Two decades later, writer Max Adler and photographer Grant Hindsley captured the grit and resolve of the Oregon men's head golf coach as he goes through a more arduous trial: learning to play high-level golf on one leg. (Photography by Grant Hindsley)

Xander Schuaffele

Working with Senior Instruction Editor Ron Kaspriske, photographer Dylan Coulter employed stroboscopic techniques to capture this image of Xander Schauffele's long-iron swing. The result is an almost haunting blend of intense concentration and physical dynamism. (Photography by Dylan Coulter)

Scottie Scheffler

Comfort on the set always helps the final product, and in this case of Jesse Reiser photographing Scottie Scheffler in Dallas weeks before his Masters victory, we had it in spades. Senior writer Matthew Rudy has known Scheffler's coach, Randy Smith, for decades as the top-ranked coach has been a frequent contributor for Golf Digest. As such, Rudy also has known Scheffler's agent, Blake Smith (Randy's son), since he was a boy. The familiarity helped the vibe as the team experimented with props and dual-tones unprecedented on our cover. In retrospect, the fresh look was a proper fit for the breakout player of the year. (Photography by Jesse Rieser)

Max Homa

Max Homa is one of the most charismatic new stars on the PGA Tour. These photos from Jensen Larson took advantage of his expressiveness and a clean indoor background in New Orleans to let Max’s face tell a significant part of this relatable-for-weekend-players instruction story—How to Play Your Best Without Your Best Stuff—written with Matthew Rudy. (Photography by Jensen Larson)

Michael Herrera, Kevin Hall

Starting on scruffy municipal courses in 2010, the Advocates Professional Golf Association tour was founded to give minority golfers more competitive opportunities to hone their skills and reach pro golf’s highest levels. Over the last several years, with large financial support from big corporations, the circuit has begun to truly thrive and is playing at major championship venues such as Baltusrol, Torrey Pines and Valhalla. Writer Tod Leonard and photographer Josh Letchworth shared the inspirational stories of some of the APGA’s most compelling figures. (Photography by Josh Letchworth)

Gordon McKie

Gordon McKie is just the ninth superintendent of St. Andrews' famous Old Course links since Old Tom Morris. Writer Jamie Kennedy and photographer Dom Furore shadowed McKie and his team as they prepared for the 150th Open Championship, which was ultimately won, of course, by Cam Smith. Forget LIV Golf as a threat. Amid the modern crises of distance and climate, there's an argument to be made that McKie's watch could be the most critical for the birthplace of the game. (Photography by Dom Furore)

Lando Norris

Lando Norris has a new obsession with golf. It's intriguing that someone used to going so fast also loves playing a slow-paced game like golf, but the young star is not alone in that regard on the Formula 1 racing circuit. Photographer Alfonso Duran captured the charismatic Norris in Miami ahead of a big race—and a big golf trip that included a stop at Augusta National and rounds with various PGA Tour stars—while writer Alex Myers spoke to Norris to learn more about a sport that is quickly gaining popularity in the United States. (Photography by Alfonso Duran)

Tony Finau

Golf Digest veteran photographer Dom Furore shot the September 2022 cover of Tony Finau at Victory Ranch Golf Club in Utah. Amidst this stunning backdrop of the Rockies, it was also here that Golf Digest informed Finau that he had finished first in our Tour Nice Guys ranking, as voted on by his peers. Finau was gracious, momentarily at a loss for words, then sat for an interview with Max Adler and talked at length about what it means to be selfless, why he's not playing the LIV Tour, how he maintains his killer instinct with a smile, and how he practices his go-to shots. (Photography by Dom Furore)

University of Southwest golf team memorial

In March, a van carrying members of the University of Southwest golf team collided with a truck driven by a man with meth in his system. There might not be a more difficult assignment than tracing a widespread trail of tragedy. But in "Shattered" photographer Darren Carroll and writer Jeff Pearlman did the gut-wrenching journalism so that the lives of the nine people who died could be accurately honored. (Photography by Darren Carroll)

Cole Hammer

What’s it like for a college star to turn pro? The injection of so much LIV and Name-Image-Likeness money into golf made 2022 a particularly fascinating slice of a prospective new pro’s life. Writer Matther Rudy and photographer Nathaniel Welch combined to show just how striking the changes were from one week to the next for former University of Texas star Cole Hammer as he moved on to play in his first PGA Tour event as a professional. (Photography by Nathaniel Welch)

Atthaya Thitikul

Atthaya Thitikul stumbled into golf, telling our Keely Levins how a doctor prescribed more time outdoors to cure constant colds she experienced as a child. The doctor gave her the choice between golf and tennis. Thitikul chose golf, though no one in her family played. She is the youngest player to win a professional event, when she won on the Ladies European Tour in 2017 as a 14-year-old. Fast forward to 2022 and Thitikul was a rookie on the LPGA Tour. The Thai star won twice and briefly grabbed the World No. 1 ranking at just age 19 during her impressive opening year. Mackenzie Stroh took this powerful shot of Thitikul when the tour played in New Jersey. (Photography by Mackenzie Stroh)

Matt Fitzpatrick

For a time, U.S. Open champion Matthew Fitzpatrick had an undeserved reputation as being a bit boring. Perhaps it was from hitting so many fairways and greens. These portraits by photographer Jensen Larson revealed the true Fitzy, who is a lively, funny and driven soul. He studies his golf rounds with the same zeal that a detective might investigate a crime, and hammed it up accordingly with editor Ron Kaspriske and writer Daniel Rapaport to produce this cover package. (Photography by Jensen Larson)

Phil Hellmuth, Mori Eskandani, Ben Lamb, Brian Balsbaugh

With pro poker stars, you've never seen such bad golfers play for so much money. Something in the wiring of these degenerates compels them to gamble tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars on their inevitable double bogeys. As a follower of all things Las Vegas, writer Michael Kaplan has been tracking this scene for years. Along with photographer Jeff Lipsky, the duo provides a voyeuristic view into a wild game one hot afternoon at TPC Las Vegas. (Photography by Jeff Lipsky)

Conner Willett

Connor Willett triumphed at the Massachusetts Amateur just days after the sudden death related to a choking incident of his 52-year-old father. How the 19-year-old summoned the best golf of his life while reeling from grief, sleep-deprived and unable to eat, will remain a mystery. But no one will take us closer to understanding this particular phenomenon of joy amid tragedy than writer Chris Jones and photographer Adam Glanzman, who spent time with the Willetts and other witnesses shortly after the tournament. (Photography by Adam Glanzman)

Alex Fourie

The Adaptive Open, the USGA’s newest championship, produced some amazing stories, but none more so than the one-armed Alex Fourie. Writer Alex Myers chronicles this adaptive golfer’s incredible tale of perseverance, while photographer Eric Ryan Anderson captures the positive-thinking Fourie, who is now most concerned with helping others like him. (Photography by Eric Ryan Anderson)

Tom Kim

Tom Kim won everything he could on the amateur circuit in the Philippines and turning pro felt like the next step. So he did, as a 15-year-old. He shared stories with our Keely Levins about the years he spent playing throughout Asia. At the start of the 2022 season, he only had status on the Asian Tour. He made the most of PGA Tour starts he got, and won Wyndham. He catapulted himself into the FedEx Cup Playoffs and onto the International Team at the Presidents Cup. Gabe L’Heureux photographed Kim in California, just a few weeks before the Presidents Cup. (Photography by Gabe L’Heureux)

Charles Barkley

If you can’t capture Charles Barkley’s charisma, you’re doing it wrong. Matthew Rudy’s story examined Barkley’s eureka-moment swing reclamation with noted golf instructor Stan Utley, while John Loomis’ images captured the pure joy Barkley gets from finally getting his game back. (Photography by John Loomis)

Chris Russo

Sports-talk-show host Chris Russo has some spicy takes on golf. As part of our No Offense Issue, writer Alex Myers spoke to the radio legend and new ESPN star known for his hot takes and got some spicy ones pertaining to golf. Photographer Joe Buglewicz had Russo recreate a passionate 2015 Golf Digest portrait with Joe Buck at his home course—where the end result of matches are often shared with his loyal listeners. (Photography by Joe Buglewicz)

Joel Dahmen

What was a paunchy pro ranked outside the top 100 doing shirtless and tatted on the cover of Golf Digest? As guest editor of the No Offense Issue, funny man Joel Dahmen helped readers breathe a collective exhale after the pressure-cooked season where money, morality and politics dominated headlines in golf. Photographer John Loomis was a font of ideas—from "Caddyshack" characters to fake tattoos—and Dahmen gamely elevated each one to the next level with his charm and everyman appeal. (Photography by John Loomis)