The best photos our staff snapped in 2023 — and the stories behind them

Four images of golfers playing golf

The GOLF staff got around in 2023.

GOLF staff

Oh, what a year in golf it was. From another memorable Masters, to Senate hearings in D.C., to a Rome Ryder Cup, to all the other wild and wonderful stops in between, there was much to digest. Our staff chronicled much if it, and so did the cameras on their phones. Here are some of the best, or most meaningful, pictures our staff captured in 2023. Here’s to more photo-worthy moments in ’24!

Sean Zak: I raised my hand up high to catch this snap from the center of Team Europe’s victory party. Rory is sipping a Peroni. Rahm is talking about tequila he has in the hotel. Shane Lowry is wearing the Irish flag like a cape. Vik Hovland is ready to do the same with Norway’s flag. What’s funny about this moment is that the team is stuck waiting. There’s so much pent-up energy around the Ryder Cup, building for months and months. And then in a flurry of three days it’s over and one team gets to throw an absolute rager. But to honor TV contracts, the players are stuck waiting for a good 20 minutes before being introduced to the cameras. Such a funny 20 minutes. And fun to stand there in the center of it all. 

Sean Zak

Alan Bastable: Of all the places I might have expected the game to take me in 2023, a Senate hearing room was not one of them. But that’s where I found myself on July 11 — parked at the cramped press table in SH 216 at the U.S. Capitol. There is nothing remarkable about this photograph, but it symbolizes the mind-boggling upheaval men’s professional golf has experienced over the past couple of years. One moment we were tittering at the notion of a Greg Norman-led league taking on the PGA Tour; the next we were observing U.S. senators grill PGA Tour brass about partnering with Saudi Arabian investors. What does 2024 have in store?!

Alan Bastable

James Colgan: It was Friday morning at my very first Open Championship, and the shower was once again hot enough to melt my skin. You see, dear reader, the differences between America and England are few, but the sanctity of one’s bathing remains one area in which the Brits lag several centuries behind. All week long at our ancient rental house in Hoylake, the GOLF staff wedged into the two-foot by two-foot glass-paneled box in the upstairs bathroom desiring only a warm shower. And all week long, the GOLF staff’s shower temperatures alternated between cold-plunge frigidity and second-degree burns. 

That helps to explain the curls flowing off my head in the photo below from Open Championship Friday, seated beneath the brilliant yellow leaderboard on the 18th hole at Royal Liverpool as the final groups rolled through. The shower had not allowed ample time for shampooing (or, for that matter, styling) at the Open. Only a few brief moments of misery each morning.

That’s okay, though. I’ll always remember that shower, that rental house, and that glorious Friday golden hour at the Open in one large swath of nostalgia. In golf as in travel, the memories are only as good as the stories.

James Colgan

Nick Dimengo: As someone who still pinches himself for actually having this job, I’m pretty damn lucky to tee it up at a few incredible courses — and Chambers Bay takes the cake. Set on a Pacific Ocean sound, it offers stunning views of sunsets and mountains, while also providing a warm breeze coming off the water during the spring and summer months. This picture (looking back toward the tee box on No. 12, “The Narrows”) encapsulates everything right about Chambers, and highlights both its beauty and its difficult terrain. The fact that I get to call a U.S. Open site my “home course” is surreal, and this photo makes me reminisce about an incredible first year on the job.

Nick Dimengo

Jack Hirsh: This year I was fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to coach my former high school golf team. Below, I’m pictured with our two district qualifiers, Thomas and Carson, who will be our captains for the next two seasons. I picked this photo because it’s a great symbol of where I’ve been (I’m wearing my 8-year-old senior sweatshirt that still fits!), and where the team and I are headed.

Josh Sens: On a blustery day in Monterey, during a round of preview play before the U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach, I got paired with USGA honcho Mike Whan (pictured below, on Pebble’s 7th hole), an amiable guy with a nicely on-plane swing and a decent putting stroke. Over the course of 18 holes, we talked about rules and rollbacks and his role in trying to remove some of the generational starch from his organization’s culture. We also played a match, which I, with my ugly, cross-the-line, hold-on hacker’s move, won 5 and 3. I’m not saying I lost all respect for Whan. But it wasn’t a proud moment for the guardians of the game, no matter how good his move looks here.

Josh Sens

Tim Reilly: I’m bending the rules a bit. This is a photo taken on my phone without my knowledge. In October, I was fortunate enough to walk out and play the Old Course. A cold, rainy morning scared away enough softies to get my No. 43 queue spot out by 11 a.m. A member hosting his two son-in-laws happened to have an opening. We connected at the front desk, and the elderly Englishman remarked, “We must be mad.” 

After a few holes of needling their new American friend, they realized I could take anything they threw my way…and give it back. I was welcomed, for a day, as an extended member of their family. 

After the round, I was invited to join my new lads for a pint. When I stepped away for a bathroom break, the group took my phone to capture a few selfies. It was a reminder of a memorable day at a course, and with a group I won’t soon forget. It was all a single walk-on the Old Course could ask for — and more.

Tim Reilly’s new golf buddy

Ryan Barath: I used to think that anyone who choose to quote the Dr. Seuss classic “Oh the Places You’ll Go” during an event like a graduation was a bit of a cop-out, but the older I get, the more I realize just how much it encapsulates life. 

The game has taken me many places in 2023, and this picture on the Swilcan Bridge in St. Andrews with my wife Dana means a lot more that just the experience of being able to play the famous Old Course. (Like my colleague Tim, I’m bending the rules a bit since someone else technically snapped the photo.) 

This picture not only represents many years of wanting and hoping to see this special place with my own two eyes, but also huge the amount of love and support has given to me through the years. Even those she didn’t choose to play in the nearly 30 mph winds that day (smart on her part) we played one of the other courses later in the week and enjoyed the putting course, too. It was a shared experience we’ll never forget.

Courtesy of Ryan Barath

Jessica Marksbury: This photo is admittedly not super-spectacular — your basic course photo! — but for me it evokes a memory of my favorite getaway of the year. The destination? Terranea, a glorious cliff-top resort in Southern California. I loved everything about it: the setting, the dining, the accommodations, all top-notch. But I was really struck by the golf. The Links at Terranea, a nine-hole on-site track that opened in 2009, was so pleasant: walkable and quick to play, leaving ample time to enjoy everything else the resort has to offer. These days, I love when golf is a part of my itinerary rather than the be-all, end-all objective of the day. Terranea ticks all those boxes, and I can’t wait to go back.

Jessica Marksbury

Dylan Dethier: This spring me and our visual whiz Darren Riehl made some videos at the Masters that involved a photo shoot around various intriguing corners of Augusta National — including its phone banks. The old-school phones are actually pretty cool. You can call someone from there — no charge — and say, “Hey, I’m at the Masters, and I’m thinking of you!” I like that. But I like this picture (below, middle) because Darren, who actually called his wife, looks like a dork. Flanking Darren are a couple more snaps where I look like one, too. Good times!

Darren Riehl

Nick Piastowski: Yep, that’s me on the left. And Susan Fiandach on the right. And who’s Susan Fiandach? No, she’s no pro. But she did play a part in one of the more, shall we say, “unconventional” golf stories I’ve written. Ahead of this year’s PGA Championship, I had learned that the ghost of Buffalo Bill had been seen at Oak Hill, the host course. So I started to talk to folks. The Oak Hill club historian. Curators at the two Buffalo Bill museums. Players. And Fiandach, a psychic medium at the Purple Door Soul Source, five miles from Oak Hill, in Rochester, N.Y. I visited her office. She told me the sightings were real. She gave me advice on how to talk to ghosts. On my way out, we snapped a photo together. Then, a day later, in an attempt to contact the long-deceased legend, I put her teachings to work

Nick Piastowski
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