Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

Celebrate Good Times

Rating Luke List's Sanderson Farms triumph on the C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. Scale

October 09, 2023

Jonathan Bachman

After an extended Ryder Cup break, we're BACK to monitor the ongoing culture of celebration on the PGA Tour. This week, Luke List buried a monster 45-foot birdie putt to win a five-man playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship and secure his second PGA Tour victory. But we're not so concerned with the victory; here at the C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. Institute, we want to know how he did it afterward.

Before we begin our latest analysis, here's a quick reminder of of how THE C.E.L.E.B.R.A.T.I.O.N. SCALE works: Using 11 different criteria, each rated from 1-10, we come up with a comprehensive score that can be used as a measure of excellence and a comparison to past and future celebrations. The criteria:

Crowd Work - When you win, are you a man of the people?
Elation - How much did you let loose?
Looper Moment - That first hug/fist bump/whatever with the caddie is so important
Emotion - You know you get MASSIVE points for tears in this one.
Body Work - Separate from elation/emotion, how good was the sheer physicality?
Relations - Family? Friends? Agents?
Awkwardness - Golf can be an awkward sport, we love it, and here we reward it
Theatrics - A catch-all category for any other BIG elements of the celebration
Interview - The victory interview; how well did they execute?
Opponent interaction - Was there respect shown to the enemy? We love respect.
N-tangibles - Anything—and everything—else

With thanks to the PGA Tour, here's the video we'll be referring to:

Let's begin!

1. Crowd Work

Up top, we have to acknowledge the strangeness of List's win. Fighting through the five-man playoff, he was actually second to putt when he buried his bomb, which meant that he found himself in the unusual situation of watching not one, not two, but three other guys miss their putts before he actually won. It's about as far from a walk-off as you can get on the PGA Tour while still being in the last group. Unfortunately for him, he had to keep his cool in that moment, and there wasn't a lot of space for crowd work unless he wanted to pull a "U.S. Ryder Cup team in Brookline" and just run all over everyone's line. He didn't, and we don't want to dock him too many points for decorum. BUT! Even after the last putt missed, and all the way through his interviews, a close examination of List shows that he never really even gave a nod or a hat tip to the fans, focusing instead on his caddie, his opponents, and then his family and TV. Maybe he got into it later, but we can only judge by the broadcast. Is this harsh? Absolutely. But we have to be sticklers or the system would lose all integrity.

Score: 0/10

2. Elation

Elation can be captured in a moment, and List's reaction at the instant his putt fell (about 0:38) was pure, aggressive passion. As we said above, he had to rein it in quickly for the sake of his opponents, and by the time the other three had missed, he kept it classy, but again at 1:50, for the briefest moment, you could see his happiness spill through. Under the circumstances, this is good elation.

Score: 7.5/10

3. Looper Moment

We get a little satisfied chat with Jeff Willett at the 1:05 mark, and when it's over, at 1:16, we see the end of a solid but unremarkable hug. Not bad, but frankly it left a little to be desired.

Score: 2.7/10

4. Emotion

List seemed very grateful and very happy, and it almost seemed like he might be heading into tears territory when he thanked his wife at 2:57, but all in all he was pretty even-keeled. You have to do so much more to rack up the points in this one, Luke.

Score: 3.1/10

5. Body Work

Here, we have to highlight the unusual but very effective fist pump first seen at 0:38. He starts it behind his head, but rather than a true uppercut or a downward punch, he sort of leans forward at the waist and brings the first down in an abbreviated motion that almost looks like what you might do if you were stabbing someone. Then he takes the knife out and plunges it again in three more short motions, thoroughly ending the life of his invisible victim. This video gives a better angle of how he really stepped into it:

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I saw that List gave us a fist pump we've never seen before, and it was good. This might be revolutionary.

Score: 9.0/10

6. Relations

Right from the moment he made his putt, this was a home run for List. Great children, great wife, and they were with him throughout the celebration and the interview, perfect complements to his win. A supportive, telegenic wife and two cute kids, one of whom even had a lollipop, which he cared about far more than his dad hitting a massive putt? They aced this category. (Also, shout out to his wife at 2:05 for anticipating that he can't hold two kids during the interview and takes the older one off his hands, even though List was like "I got it." You didn't have it, Luke. Thank your wife.)

Score: 9.8/10

7. Awkwardness

On close inspection, I found only two decently awkward moments. First, at 0:48, when he marched away after sinking his putt but had to come back and fix a mark of some kind, and then at 2:58 when he puts his arm around his wife and soon has the moment of "oops, I need to get my arm back, and also, I don't know what to do with my arm now, and crap, I tried for the pocket and missed." So that's something, but otherwise he kept it pretty smooth, and cost himself some points.

Score: 4.3/10

8. Theatrics

We can give him a little love for the fist pump, but that's a little redundant at this point, and otherwise List really didn't give us much to work with. Again, I think the circumstances on the green hurt him a little, but we can only go on what we see.

Score: 1.7/10

9. Interview

Starting at 2:16, List kept it very, very standard, with a few cliches ("rollercoaster," "hung in all day," "this is why we play and compete," etc.), but also a solid shout-out to his wife, and at least one good revelation in that he told his caddie he was going to make the winning putt. He kept even that pretty understated, though, and his demeanor gave that vibe of "I'm going to smile and be nice and say the right things but also I kinda want to get this over with." He came off like an easygoing, nice dude, so that's a win, but it was also pretty forgettable in the end. Keep in mind, we already gave him points for his family, so we can't pump him up any more there.

Score: 3.9/10


Raj Mehta

10. Opponent Interaction

Absolutely phenomenal. Starting at 1:15, List had about 15 people to shake hands with or acknowledge in some way, and damned if he didn't get all of them. He was like the guy at the long dinner table who takes the toast extremely seriously—he's going to clink glasses with everyone, even if he has to get up and walk to the other side of the room. And he had a genuine look of what I described in Viktor Hovland's post of "I'm so sorry I beat you" for all of them. A tour de force.

Score: 10/10

11. N-Tangibles

It's hilarious to me that his young son has to wear a Tour lanyard to be inside the ropes, and that it's so big it ends up functioning more like a straitjacket than a credential. Make a kid's-sized lanyard, folks!

Score: 6.0/10

Overall Score: 58/110

Final Analysis: Folks, we have a new clubhouse leader! It wasn't the greatest celebration of all-time, it was good enough to nip Viktor Hovland's Tour Championship performance by three points thanks to a great fist pump, some solid opponent interaction, and a family who stepped it up in the big moment. This is respectable stuff considering the strange way the tournament finished, and List can hold his head high.

Previously in the series: