The Nice Guys
The top 30 nice guys on the PGA Tour
“Nice” is subjective. Particularly this year, when the ongoing schism in professional golf has challenged traditional notions about right and wrong. It’s possible to be an ethically upright person who isn’t pleasant to strangers, just as it is to be a cordial backstabber to one’s friends. To compile our list of the 30 Nicest Guys on Tour, we interviewed and surveyed more than 120 players, caddies, media members, golf executives, locker-room attendants and tournament volunteers. We asked specific questions and open-ended ones, and Tony Finau’s name came up more than anybody else’s. Now, people have varying opinions of what constitutes a nice guy, and far be it for us to narrow this definition. The sole criterion was current PGA Tour membership, so you won’t see European or senior-circuit individuals on this list. But if you are looking for a through line on the players below, it is this: the inclination and consistency of treating people—no matter their station—with respect and civility. (2019 rank in parenthesis)
1. (8) TONY FINAU Well-known for his ever-present smile and being generous with his time. Says Finau, "If I have a conversation with a person, and I leave thinking I’ve brightened their day just a little bit somehow, that makes me happy." Finau joins past winners of the Golf Digest Tour Nice Guys Ranking; Steve Stricker (2013), Jordan Spieth (2017) and Rickie Fowler (2019).
2. (T-19) PETER MALNATI Several players describe Malnati as relentlessly optimistic. “He’s almost too nice, too happy,” jokes one player.
3. (3) JORDAN SPIETH If his lengthy and revealing answers to otherwise flat questions in press conferences are any indication, the guy is a giver.
4. (4) RORY McILROY The four-time major champion is considered a gentleman by those inside and outside the ropes. Multiple players say he has become the “conscience” of the PGA Tour.
5. (1) RICKIE FOWLER Our winner in 2019 ranked high across many survey questions, including taking time out of his days to sign autographs for kids.
6. (5) WEBB SIMPSON The former U.S. Open champ is considered one of the more approachable players and finished second in the “Nobody is nicer to waiters, spotters and volunteers” survey question.
7. (7) HAROLD VARNER III He is rarely seen without a smile and was among the more popular responses for “Player you would most want to have dinner with.”
Jared C. Tilton
8. (NEW) COLLIN MORIKAWA Says Rick Sessinghaus, Collin’s coach of nearly two decades: “It’s much easier working for good guys than prima donnas. It’s not that Collin has no ego; he just has a healthy ego.”
9. (NEW) VIKTOR HOVLAND The Norwegian is beloved on tour for his happy-go-lucky demeanor and self-deprecating humor.
10. (NEW) STEWART CINK Cink is a former winner of the Payne Stewart Award, which is presented annually to a pro golfer who exemplifies the late Stewart’s values of character, charity and sportsmanship.
11. (2) GARY WOODLAND His feel-good moment with Special Olympian Amy Bockerstette during the WM Phoenix Open in 2019 helped launch a new foundation to promote golf instruction and playing opportunities for people with intellectual challenges.
12. (NEW) HARRIS ENGLISH He comes across as quiet and reserved, but he’s far more Southern Gentleman than aloof.
13. (21) JUSTIN ROSE The 2013 U.S. Open champion and his wife, Kate, founded an organization that helps fight childhood hunger in Orlando.
14. (NEW) SAM BURNS Despite his quick rise up the World Golf Ranking, the former LSU standout has remained a considerate, humble soul.
15. (14) XANDER SCHAUFFELE The Olympic gold medalist is an advocate for environmental protection and assists junior golf programs in his hometown of San Diego.
16. (6) ADAM SCOTT Renowned for his politeness, Scott recently received the Jim Murray Award for fostering a positive working environment between players and media.
17. (13) BRANDT SNEDEKER He’s so respected by his peers that he’s often discussed as a future candidate to be PGA Tour commissioner.
18. (16) JASON DAY His family’s Brighter Days charity works with groups like Habitat for Humanity and Ohio State University cancer center.
19. (NEW) CHESSON HADLEY He is known as one of the funniest guys on tour and one of its friendliest.
20. (T-27) KEVIN STREELMAN The veteran is involved with Compassion International, an organization that partners with local churches to provide skills and support to rescue children from poverty.
21. (NEW) SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER Skyrocketing to World No. 1 has not gone to his head. Multiple respondents called Scheffler a “great kid” and a “gentle giant.”
22. (NEW) CAMERON TRINGALE He is noted by other pros as an encouraging playing partner with a sharp wit.
23. (T-29) CHEZ REAVIE Reavie ranks high among tournament and tour officials as one of the easiest players to work with on tour.
24. (17) DANNY LEE Lee has been instrumental in funding the New Zealand Golf Development, which aims to grow the game in his native country.
25. (18) DYLAN FRITTELLI The former University of Texas standout was cited often as someone other players like to play with.
26. (NEW) J.T. POSTON The North Carolina native received high marks as someone amateurs should hope to get paired with in a pro-am.
27. (23) JOEL DAHMEN As down-to-Earth as a tour pro gets, he once spontaneously invited an editor of this magazine to dinner at his house, and greeted him barefoot with two bourbons in Solo cups.
28. (12) JUSTIN THOMAS The two-time PGA champion received high marks as one of the players “most likely to give another player or caddie a free lift to the next event.”
29. (NEW) RUSSELL KNOX Known as one of the more affable guys on tour, he is also an ambassador for junior golf in North Florida and his hometown of Inverness, Scotland.
30. (T-27) ZACH JOHNSON The 2023 Ryder Cup captain goes out of his way to mentor younger players.
ACTS OF KINDNESS
We were not interested in just knowing who the Tour Nice Guys are. We wanted to know who does ostensibly nice things when nobody is watching. The results of the following questions didn’t necessarily correlate to how our voters cast their nice guys choices; as you’ll see here, a few names appear multiple times on the survey questions but didn’t make our Tour Nice Guys Ranking. However, the survey does provide context and color to what exactly makes a nice guy nice. —Joel Beall
If you had to have dinner with one player every night for an entire tournament week, it would be …
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Joel Dahmen
3. Harold Varner III
A rookie eager to learn the ropes of tour life should play a practice round with …
1. Phil Mickelson
T-2. Jordan Spieth, Webb Simpson, Charley Hoffman
A player who is in contention on the weekend should hope to be paired with …
1. Webb Simpson
2. Rickie Fowler
T-3. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa
The player most likely to give another player or caddie a free lift to the next event is …
T-1. Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth
T-4. Max Homa, Justin Thomas
Nobody is nicer to waiters, spotters and volunteers than …
1. Rickie Fowler
T-2. Peter Malnati, Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy
Amateurs playing in a pro-am should hope to get paired with …
1. Billy Horschel
2. Harry Higgs
3. J.T. Poston
A player likely to tip big even after a missed cut is …
1. Phil Mickelson
2. Rory McIlroy
T-3. Jordan Spieth, Kevin Streelman
Nobody spends more time signing autographs for kids than …
1. Rickie Fowler
2. Phil Mickelson
3. Jon Rahm