Straight from our phones! The GOLF staff’s favorite photos from 2018

December 26, 2018

One of the perks of covering this great game: you get around. Here’s a look back at some of the far-flung and fabulous spots to which our staff traveled in 2018, as captured on our phones.

Tiger puts a charge into the Valspar

Sunday at the Valspar was the most electric I’d ever seen a golf tournament in person (months later, PGA Championship Sunday would challenge that). There was this frenzied energy to the crowd; not only was Tiger Woods on the brink of a ridiculous victory, he was doing so in Tampa, at a tournament that he’d never played, in front of fans who’d never seen him. Thanks to my inside-the-ropes media pass, at one point I found myself near the 15th green, directly in line with Tiger’s laser gaze. I tried to stay VERY still and sneaky while taking this picture; maybe that’s why it came out kind of blurry. (Tiger went on to miss this putt, but still – what a moment.)— Dylan Dethier

Tiger Woods Valspar
Woods didn’t win the Valspar, but it was a sign of future success in ’18.

A classic swing from another era

This is a photo of a photo of the Hall of Fame golfer Glenna Collett Vare that I saw on a wall in the Old Course hotel in St. Andrews in July. Look at the speed she has through that ball! Look at her feet, her extension, the sheer natural athleticism of it. I looked at it and thought two things. One, Justin Thomas. Two, the swing is the swing.— Michael Bamberger

Glenna Collett Vare
Glenna Collett Vare lets it fly.

A new view of Augusta

I’ve been lucky enough to cover eight Masters (I don’t know how many times I’ve been to, say, Kroger, but with Augusta you keep track), and every year I discover a new spot on the course. This year during a Monday practice round, I made the 50-yard trek up the slope to the 11th tee box and took in that view for the first time. It’s a quiet spot because there’s nothing else to see besides that one shot. But I learned it’s a gorgeous scene, and I never realized the hole took such a sharp dogleg. Not a bad way to spend 10 minutes. (FYI, that’s Rafa Cabrera Bello taking a rip.) And by the way, I snapped this pic with a camera, not a cell phone. Gotta play by the rules — I’d like to see that view again next year.— Jeff Ritter

A beautiful view of the fairway on the 11th tee at Augusta.

Checking one off the bucket list

My most memorable golf photo of the year is an easy choice: This moment in time from a round at Torrey Pines’s South Course. It was a bucket-list, whirlwind birthday trip for my husband, Paul (second from right), made even sweeter by the addition of two of our very best friends, David Reynolds (right) and Nick Stanton (left). The round was a blast — everything that you hope for when you visit a course you’ve looked forward to playing for many years: birdies for the birthday boy on Nos. 2 and 5, and even a hole-out from the fairway for eagle on No. 15 by yours truly. To merely call it memorable is the understatement of the year. We can’t wait to go back — next time, for the North course.— Jessica Marksbury

The crew at Torrey Pines South.

Front row at the Tiger Show 

There was a while there when I assumed my kids would learn about Tiger Woods’s greatness only through YouTube videos and maybe a Who Was…? book. The notion that they might actually see him play in a real, live PGA Tour event? Lol. Which made this moment at Ridgewood Country Club, in northern Jersey, one of my golf highlights of 2018. That’s two of my three boys along the gallery line at The Northern Trust, with a front-row seat to the Tiger Show. Unexpected bonus: He even found the fairway.— Alan Bastable

Two young fans learning golf at an early age by watching arguably the greatest golfer of all-time.

An evening stroll around Shinnecock

Major championship weeks can be a grind. There’s so much going on that you sometimes lose sight of the fact that your office is one of the best courses on the planet. So instead of spending the entire week with my head down, I took a stroll around Shinnecock one evening. Save for the maintenance crew, the place was nearly empty. Very seldom do you ever get a world-class course to yourself. It was by far my favorite walk in golf this year — and produced this photo of the 18th green. All in a day’s work.— Jonathan Wall

All quiet during twilight at Shinnecock.

Singles under the sun

Anything seemed possible on a bright Sunday morning in France, as the singles matches were just beginning. If you squint closely, you’ll see Tiger Woods and Jon Rahm on the first tee, flanked by what had to be the largest set of bleachers in golf history. The energy was visceral. Rahm clipped Tiger that afternoon and not long afterwards the Euros celebrated into the night, while the U.S. slumped out of town amid new stories of discord in the locker room. A dark day for American golf. At least the weather was nice.— Jeff Ritter

Ryder Cup Sunday turned out to be glorious for the European team.

A beauty in Bermuda

This photo captures Mid Ocean Club (and Bermuda) at its best. Dylan Dethier snapped it in early December, and that’s me at the top of my finish. What started as a brutally windy, overcast day seceded into the best sunset I’ve seen in a really long time. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we played the final three holes under par as a group. Thanks to Dylan for the birdies.— Sean Zak

Dusk descends upon Mid Ocean Club.

Bird’s-eye view of 17 at Sawgrass

Thursday at the Players Championship I spent some time in the broadcast tower hovering above the fabled 17th green at TPC Sawgrass. I was given a headset to eavesdrop on how the production team works together to create TV from one of the most exhilarating holes in golf. Turns out a live production crew deals with intense pressure — not unlike what golfers feel standing on that tee at 17.— Tim Reilly

Behind the scenes at TPC Sawgrass.

A dream come true at Cypress Point

This year, I got lucky. My best friend called in an epic favor to get us on Cypress Point. On the signature 16th, with 242 yards to the pin, I left the face open on this 4-wood but cleared the cliff by about three yards – look closely, and you can see the ball in mid-air. If it was the last round of my life, I would’ve died a happy man.— Luke Kerr-Dineen

The iconic 16th at Cypress Point

A foggy round at Bandon Dunes

You never know what conditions Bandon Dunes will throw at you: glorious sun-splashed skies, biting cold, driving rain, 40-mph winds. When my fivesome set out for an early-morning round on the par-3 Preserve course in October, we encountered an impenetrable fog. As the round wore on, the haze slowly lifted and the sun began to burn through, which made visibility even worse. My partners squinting into the glare as they tried to locate the flagstick on a 110-yard hole was like an eerie scene from a Spielberg flick.— Alan Bastable

The green is out there somewhere.

Good morning, Vietnam

There are 245 countries in the world, and golf is played in 208 of them. But nowhere is the game growing faster than in Vietnam. I snapped this picture last month near the village of Dong Hoi, along the central coast, where white sand dunes extend so far that the architect Brian Curley has been contracted to build a whopping 10 courses over the next decade or so. The course pictured here is the first of them, and it’s so new that it doesn’t yet have an official name. It’s just called Course A. Course B has been seeded an opens this summer. Both represent a shift toward the kind of linksy understatement that has, until recently, been fairly rare throughout Asia. They’re an indication of how good golf in Vietnam seems bound to be.— Josh Sens

Vietnam could be the next golf hotbed.

From the cheap seats at the Ryder Cup

We all know what 2018 meant for Tiger Woods. First the comeback, then contending, then winning and, lastly, the Ryder Cup in Paris. When the season started I don’t think many people planned to see Woods play in the Ryder Cup unless it was due to a long-shot captain’s pick, but his selection was far from a Hail Mary. Woods played well enough to get to Le Golf National, yet on a chilly opening day outside of Paris, seeing him tee off for morning fourballs still seemed surreal. I snapped a picture from the top of the bleachers. It was good to see him back and playing in a Ryder Cup for the first time six years. Now if only he would have won a match.— Josh Berhow

All eyes on Tiger.

The Old Course after dark

Me, Mike and Sean, midnight on the Swilican Bridge, playing the Old Course under the stars. Young Zak’s smile says it all!— Alan Shipnuck

From left: Shipnuck, Sean Zak and Michael Bamberger.