It was August of 2020 when some college-aged kids from Kansas City, Kansas, drove eight hours south to Dallas and never looked back, ditching so-called normal careers along the way. Their intentions were both grand and unprecedented, the kind of new-age pursuit that doesn’t seem legitimately possible.
Five close friends, soon to be six – all strong players who came to love golf despite years of hesitation – hatched a plan to play against each other professionally, on YouTube, as their full-time jobs.
They would monetize their golf exploits, challenges and games, warmly inviting the world into their escapades by breaking the fourth wall as if you were right there with them. People would come in droves to see the genuine chemistry, to feel like they are playing vicariously through a gaggle of twenty-somethings who encourage and tease their collaborators in a way that feels like a buddies trip for seriously talented, but not self-serious, golfers. Clean content would keep the group accessible to partnerships. The unmarried among the group would live together in a massive dream home, along with critical production talent who joined the cause, where they would naively question why there are two sinks in a master bathroom before stating, with full transparency, that there would be little to no cooking in the charming kitchen.
It would be called Good Good, as in the question you ask your playing partner so you each avoid having the embarrassment of missing that nervy 3-footer.
“We all packed up our bags and said goodbye to our families and moved to Texas with a leap of faith and a dream,” said Garrett Clark, one of the group’s leaders. “And it thankfully worked out.”
Clark is being modest. Two and a half years later, Good Good is a behemoth.
Their YouTube channel recently reached 1 million subscribers – eclipsing the PGA Tour’s subscriber total – and there are separate Good Good off-shoot channels with similarly robust followings. Their videos, which include copious ads for those who don’t pay extra to bypass them, have been viewed well over 200 million times and regularly feature thousands of comments per video. The engaged demographic, 18- to 32-year-olds, is impressively young by golf viewership standards.
There are die-hard fans, and they are more emotionally invested than they ever could be for a Rory McIlroy drive or Jordan Spieth putt. On a fan-started Reddit page, bickering and debates take place similar to how pinot noir-holding women dissect romantic affairs on “Love Is Blind.” Some 440,000 fans follow Good Good on Instagram, clamoring for their latest merchandise, which naturally includes loud checkerboard shirts, hoodies, swim trunks and an exclusive line of putters. The putters sold out in one day, and more golf gear is on the way. None of this mentions the individual social channels for each member of the group, which are also bustling.
How did this happen? The story starts with several threads that eventually merged into something of a phenomenon.
We’ll start with Clark, a 22-year-old college dropout who started his own non-golf YouTube channel at the age of nine. He grew up in a tight-knit Kansas City neighborhood playing baseball and soccer. Golf only entered the equation at age 13 when some of his friends convinced him to go to a six-hole par-3 course; he hated the experience, until making a hole-in-one from 85 yards out with a 7-iron during a final playoff hole with a friend. Three months later, he made another ace on the same hole, this time with a pitching wedge.
“I can honestly say if I didn’t make that hole-in-one, I don’t think I would have kept playing golf,” Clark explained. “Because I was so frustrated, I was hitting so many bad shots. I was not playing well. I was just getting in my head. And at the very end, that one good shot kept me coming back.”
Clark became a solid junior player but began channeling his energy to trick shot videos and other creative content, along with his cousin, Micah “Tig” Morris (Morris was originally a member of Good Good until recently leaving the group). He briefly played on the golf team at Kansas Community College, but by the time his sophomore year arrived in 2019, he had gained significant traction on his GM Golf YouTube channel. Money came in through the site, and Clark wanted to do it full-time.
His father, Jerry, a financial advisor, said he would only support full-time content creation if his son could make $60,000. That money seemed to arrive before Jerry finished his sentence, and by the time the pandemic arrived, Clark and his friends were quarantining at Pursell Farms in Alabama where videos were being produced rapidly for the GM Golf channel. For what it’s worth, Pursell Farms was quickly inundated with bachelor party requests shortly after the first video aired, a signal of why the content is so powerful from a business perspective.
The group responsible for that content came together organically.
One of Clark’s best friends from an early age was Stephen Castaneda. A competitive soccer player in his youth, Castaneda considered golf “boring” and didn’t touch a club until he was 17. His path into the game was through Clark, who introduced his friend through unconventional means.
“We never actually played golf,” Castaneda said. “It was always doing challenges with random objects, random items. So we never actually played golf the right way in the beginning. I think that’s kind of what slowly made me adapt to liking golf.”
“I just remember thinking this guy’s energy makes me a little uncomfortable if I’m being honest. But I actually ended up really liking him after getting to know him a little bit more.” – Garrett Clark
Next came Matt Scharff, eventual author of the self-proclaimed greatest golf shot in YouTube history and then a second viral hole-in-one during the Honda Classic pro-am. The two videos, which feature the Good Good squad running toward the hole in delirious celebration, have accumulated a combined 5.5 million views.
When Scharff and Clark were around 14 years old, Clark was playing as a single in the group behind Scharff at Sunflower Hills Golf Course in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Scharff and his brother were playing a little slow, Clark claims, so he joined up with them to move things along.
“I just remember thinking this guy’s energy makes me a little uncomfortable if I’m being honest,” Clark said. “But I actually ended up really liking him after getting to know him a little bit more.”
After playing junior golf against each other in high school, the two lost touch for a couple of years until Clark responded to a Snapchat story from Scharff, reigniting their friendship. That social media connectivity has been indispensable in creating the relationships that drive Good Good.
Not everyone was from Kansas City, though. The next member of the group came through remarkable happenstance as Clark, 18 at the time, traveled to Palm Beach Atlantic University in South Florida to see a girl he was dating. That’s where Clark randomly met Grant Horvat, a Stuart, Florida, resident who played four years on the Sailfish golf team.
“He was kind of standing in the back of a group of friends we met up with, this 6-foot-4 guy with a big smile,” Clark remembers. “I’m like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ And we got to know each other a lot. I started playing some golf with him and ended up really liking Grant’s vibes. He always has a smile on his face.”
Horvat appeared on a couple of GM Golf videos and was an immediate hit with the fanbase. He was looking for something to do after college, so he jumped at the chance to join Good Good.
And then there is Tom “Bubbie” Broders, a 25-year-old Chicagoan who grew up playing baseball before getting hooked on golf in middle school. Disenchanted with his studies at Miami University of Ohio, the fast-talking, self-deprecating Broders dropped out his senior year to start his own YouTube channel called Bubbie Golf. He met the other Good Good members through his channel, TikTok and Call of Duty – but he wasn’t a part of the group until a random meetup in the summer of 2020.
Broders came down to Texas to help a friend move his boat. He was only in town for about 48 hours but reached out to Clark to see if they wanted to meet up. Broders wasn’t expecting to play golf.
“And so I show up in just shorts, a T-shirt, Nike Air Force (shoes),” Broders said. “I guess those are my golf clothes anyway. Garrett is like, ‘Do you want to go film?’ And I said ‘Yeah, let’s run it.’”
On the second hole of their video, Broders holed out from 81 yards.
“The next night, we were chilling at the house and I think Garrett and Steve were a little buzzed,” Broders said. “And they’re like, ‘Hey, yo, Bubs, come over here.’ They’re like, ‘You want to be a part of Good Good and live in the house with us?’ That was two years ago, so I was 23, just out of college. I’m like ‘F— yeah! Let me tell my mom, that sounds awesome.’”
Clark, Castaneda, Scharff, Horvat and Broders were recently joined by Luke Kwon, a former University of Oklahoma golfer who made 16 starts on the Korn Ferry Tour for the 2020-21 season. Kwon had done some content videos while he was in college and direct-messaged Clark back when Clark was first getting serious about making social media videos. They stayed in touch, inviting Kwon, 30, to take Morris’ spot in the Good Good Cup earlier this year. Kwon suffered a traumatic head injury recently when he inadvertently stuck his head out of a moving golf cart and was hit by a railing, an accident that required immediate surgery (fortunately, he recovered and has been cleared to play golf again). Andrew Kozan, a Korn Ferry Tour player who made 24 starts last season and narrowly missed securing his PGA Tour card, is a frequent guest on the videos, and college players like John Daly Jr. are often featured.
Of course, Good Good is more than the players on camera. Colin Ross, 26, Max Putnam, 26, and Luis Hinojos, 23, are the experts in production and editing. It was Ross who reached out to Clark explaining that he had the ability to create shot tracers while a camera is zooming, a critical feature that differentiate the videos from other golf content creators.
“That’s not something people have done on YouTube before,” Clark explained.
Ross aced a test edit and then accepted an assignment to shoot a GM Golf video down in Florida a few years back, well before Good Good started. The first time Clark and Ross met, it was a 27-hour car ride in Ross’ Tesla. The two drove nonstop without sleeping, getting to know each other along the way. They got along swimmingly.
“I was thankful for that,” Clark said. “You never know where you’re gonna hop in a car with a random person and you’re not gonna get along with them.”
Ross and Putnam, who were college friends from the University of Kansas, had worked on various shows in Los Angeles, including “Cobra Kai.” Having started a working relationship with Clark, Ross left L.A. a few months before the pandemic so he could focus more on YouTube. When the pandemic hit, Putnam was left searching for work. He got a call from Ross asking if he wanted to shoot a Good Good video in Mexico at TPC Danzante Bay.
“We’ll pay you 1,000 bucks to come film it,” Putnam remembers Ross telling him. “You know, you don’t have to do it, like, ever again.”
Putnam immediately clicked with the group. He never got paid the $1,000. Instead, they offered him a job.
“I was like ‘Hell yeah!’ ” Putnam said. “So I abandoned my girlfriend pretty much immediately after that, flew to Dallas with them, lived in the house for three months, and we cranked out all the videos.”
Wait a second.
“I should clarify, she’s fine. She’s my wife now.”
The house Putnam referenced is the home base. Clark, Broders, Castaneda, Hinojos and Cade Zarnowski – the group’s social media manager – are the single men living together in the large Dallas-area home with a balcony and pool out back. The others live separately with their significant others, but often come over to play video games or hang out.
Andrew Lott, a 33-year-old fan from Tampa, Florida, said that Good Good helped get him back into golf after a 10-year hiatus while he was in school and the military.
When they aren’t in Dallas, Good Good is traveling all across the country and beyond for filming. Recent trips to Streamsong in Florida, Payne’s Valley in Missouri and a host of courses in the UK highlighted some of the recent places they’ve traveled to in order to shoot their videos, which are typically 30 to 45 minutes long and feature a variety of formats, special guests and fun twists. Bryson DeChambeau is among the regular contributors.
They also aren’t on their own when it comes to making this all possible. Good Good Golf LLC falls under Bear and Bug and GIGA Investments, founders of Scoreboard Ventures, which is the parent company of Good Good. Matt Kendrick, a partner at Scoreboard Ventures, is the CEO of Good Good.
It’s an investment in a group of friends that work diligently to make engaging content. When asked why they think Good Good resonates so much with golf fans, every member of the group cites their closeness with each other.
“People can tell how we are on camera is how we are off camera,” Castaneda said. “We actually get along and we bring something different to golf, which is kind of what is boosting us to the moon.”
If you are still left wondering why all of this resonates with their audience, it’s a good question – one that we posed to the aforementioned Reddit fandom.
“When we watch them we see a romanticized version of ourselves,” one user wrote. “The dynamic we have with our friends when we play, the level we aspire to (or believe we!) play at, and a carefree lifestyle of screwing around and playing tons of golf on great courses.”
“I love that they aren’t quite famous enough for sponsors to influence/ruin how they conduct themselves on camera,” another said, while noting that the personalities of PGA Tour players tend to get washed away because of sponsorships.
Andrew Lott, a 33-year-old fan from Tampa, Florida, said that Good Good helped get him back into golf after a 10-year hiatus while he was in school and the military. He started showing his wife videos and they became emotionally invested in rooting for “Team Stumps” – which is the threesome of Clark, Horvat and Castaneda that often goes up against their “Team Twigs” counterparts.
“It’s a hobby we enjoy together,” Lott said. “The guys are funny and make golf more relatable to many different people.”
It’s entertainment, whenever you want it, with personable characters who play golf better than the vast majority of us. These Good Good fans do not have the same experience watching PGA Tour golf, or even other YouTube golfers, some of the users mentioned.
Broders has a habit of saying that “none of this feels real.” It has all happened so naturally to the point that it couldn’t have been scripted any better. Even the talent level of the group – which range from professional golfers to low single-digit handicappers – is varied enough to be both awe-inspiring and relatable. Broders knows that fans get a kick out of seeing him duff chips while trying to keep up with the plus-handicaps of the group.
“But y’all didn’t pick me thinking I was a bad golfer, right?” Broders joked.
Broders has a habit of saying that “none of this feels real.” It has all happened so naturally to the point that it couldn’t have been scripted any better.
Underneath everything, at the core of Good Good, is a desire to show, through this friendship group, that golf can be accessible.
All of them initially thought that golf wasn’t for them. Well, they adjusted it on their own terms so that golf is for them. You can see it in how they dress, the random formats they play and the overall lighthearted approach to the game.
What do they want out of this? A career and continued friendship, of course. But beyond that, they want everyone to understand that golf can be played in any format or setting that makes you comfortable. Take your preconceived notions and turn them into whatever you need to enjoy golf.
“When we get messages or even sometimes recognized in person when people come up to us, the biggest thing that they say is ‘You guys got me into golf,’” Clark said. “Which, for us, is the most humbling part. It’s the craziest thing that we were able to get people into the sport because that is our biggest goal.”
It’s Good Good, for the greater good.
© 2022 Global Golf Post LLC
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