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Opinion & Analysis

Are golf fans and the media right to judge Brooks Koepka?



Brooks Koepka’s relationship with observers of the game has been uncomfortable of late. You only have to go back to August of this year, when at the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods poured his heart and soul into his final round at the year’s last major with the spectators of St. Louis delivering in kind to create one of the best atmospheres at a golf event in recent years. Koepka that day, received polite applause from the crowd that Sunday evening as he tapped in nonchalantly on the 18th green to win his second major championship title of the year. After the climate that Woods had created, that final scene, it is fair to say, was a little anti-climactic.

Koepka, who ascended to the summit of the game after victory at the CJ Cup on Sunday has come under fire for being an aloof golfer who lacks personality and passion on the golf course. His lack of emotion while competing rubs many people the wrong way, especially ever since he described golf as “kind of boring” in a 2015 interview with Golf Digest.

Koepka’s blasé appearance on the golf course has led to a distant relationship between himself and both golf spectators and the media. The media’s perceived lack of appreciation for Koepka is fueled by his robotic style on the golf course. Unlike, Woods, McIlroy, or Spieth, who express themselves on the course and offer marketable narratives at all times, Koepka is considered dull and lacking a personality.

This lack of appreciation from golf’s media lights a fire under the American. Earlier this year, Koepka displayed the type of emotion that golf fans would love to see on the course when he railed against the media for the lack of attention they give him.

“You’ve got guys who will kiss up, and I’m not gonna kiss up. I don’t need to kiss anyone’s butt. I’m here to play golf. I’m not here to do anything else. I don’t need to bend over backwards to be friends with anyone [in the media], but certain guys do that because they want their names written. I’d rather be written about because of my play. Sometimes it does suck, but I’ve started to care less. Come Sunday, I won’t forget it when everyone wants to talk to me because I just won. I don’t forget things.”

It is clear what now motivates Koepka (at least in part): His indignation at the lack of respect he feels he receives from the media has given him the impetus to work even harder, resulting in a career-defining year which saw him bag two majors, the PGA Player of the Year award and the world number one ranking.

Are golf fans unfair to judge Koepka on his emotionally void performances? I don’t think they are. While it’s only right to appreciate the level of dedication, skill, and nerve that Koepka has displayed on his way to the top of the sport, fans of any sport want to root for a player who showcases their thirst for victory as imperative to their being. Think Rafael Nadal, Tom Brady, Cristiano Ronaldo etc. Athletes are admired as much for their skill as they are their desire to win that they express outwardly, energizing fans of their sport. Nowadays, sports are as much a competitive activity as they are entertainment. As long as Koepka fails to show how much he wants to win to the public, fans of the sport and the media are not going to show him the adoration and attention that he deserves.

How will Koepka’s personality affect his status in the game of golf?

Should the American continue to claim major titles and hold onto the world number one ranking, will appreciation rise? Probably not. His situation is reminiscent of tennis legends Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl. Both world class champions throughout their illustrious careers, yet both failed to capture the imagination of fans due to their stoic and emotionally lacking approach on the court.

While the attention and love Koepka receives currently is limited for someone who is world number one, his unresponsive, passive demeanor doesn’t afford him the luxury of having a dip in form and still staying relative. Woods barely played from 2014-17, yet any news from the 14-time major winner in this period was still box office, while the likes of McIlroy and Spieth who have both suffered substantial dips in form over the past couple of years have received bundles of attention both from the media and from spectators during this period. Koepka does not have the same comfort, and he will need to stay at the top of the game or his limited attention from the golfing world will diminish.

However, it’s difficult to imagine the 28-year-old going anywhere anytime soon though. The three-time major winner has a game designed to dismantle even the most challenging of golf courses. While viewers may be unenthused by BK’s robotic nature, it’s something they may have to accept. Koepka’s feeling of being slighted by the golfing world may have had one of the most positive effects on his career, and as long as he feels unappreciated, he can allow his talent to hit back at his critics.

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Gianni is the Assistant Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito



  1. DaveJ

    Oct 24, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Maybe he needs to do a commercial with John Daly (similar to Sampras and McEnroe back in the day).

  2. Brad

    Oct 23, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    I don’t think Koepka really cares what you think about him, or what ANY of the media or “fans” think about him as a result of his not pandering to the media and showing faux excitement or interest in the situation or them. Koepka appears to be just what the world needs more of – a real and unpretentious athlete. He’s more Ben Hogan than Arnold Palmer. In the end, both Ben and Arnold were loved and respected in their own way.

    Unfortunately, the “Insta-Face” generations seems to care more about appearance and spectacle rather than actual performance, and that seems to be the only real thing that DOES upset Koepka. I hope that “boring” Brooks goes on to win more tournaments and majors than any of the current generation of players just so he can tell the media and so-called “fans” to stick that in their selfie pipe and smoke it…

  3. BK

    Oct 23, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    I think it does matter how you go about it. If people don’t want to go watch you play or don’t want to watch you play on tv, then golf continues to decline. I think a lot of the pros think there will always be a tour for them to play with millions of dollars available to the winner. Lose the fans and who is going to sponsor these tournaments?

  4. Tim

    Oct 23, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Tigers personality on the course? My how quickly we forget the old Tiger.

    Hmmm… lets see the press is butt hurt because a 3 time major winner wont give them the sound bites they want or time. The guy shows up gets to work and wins. He is an independent contractor and in the end he will be remembered long after a Rickie Fowler based on performance and will be asked his opinion on winning and majors long after his career. Rickie not so much.

  5. Jim

    Oct 23, 2018 at 8:48 am

    I like Brooks and appreciate his game but the point of the article is that he doesn’t let us in, doesn’t look like he is enjoying his job being a game and doesn’t really appreciate the fans. Those traits don’t help his brand and clearly building a brand is important (Rickie). Brooks can take this path but he can’t rationally expect the same treatment as others. It goes both ways. Neither way is wrong but they won’t have the same result.

  6. Steve Dodds

    Oct 23, 2018 at 8:05 am

    What an extraordinarily puerile article.And hopefully one that woefully misjudges its audience at GolfWrx.

    Who cares if Koepka ’emotes’ on cue? Dustin Johnson doesn’t. Freddy Couples didn’t.

    Koepka plays good golf. Best in the world at the moment.

    He doesn’t need to do anything else.

    Will he have ‘the luxury of having a dip in form and still staying relative’?

    Let me put it this way. If you write an article that poorly argued, culminating in a sentence that poorly constructed, you forfeit any right to be taken seriously.

    Gianni may have a degree. And a Diploma!

    But that does not make you a writer.

  7. kmay_

    Oct 23, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Love the guy, I don’t wanna see him curse and spit and slam his clubs on the ground. I think hes the perfect definition of a mentally strong respectful golfer. But I guess people are gonna criticize both ends of that spectrum.

  8. Steve

    Oct 22, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    He is wrong. His job isn’t to play golf. Just like ABC news job isn’t to give news. He is a corporation. He job is to make money.

  9. Johnny Penso

    Oct 22, 2018 at 10:52 pm

    Personally I find it ludicrous that you would even have a discussion about whether it’s right for armchair golf critics/weekend duffers to “judge” a professional athlete. The guy is a human being and he doesn’t fit into a nice, neat, predictable little box for us to evaluate him. So what? What is this obsession with judging celebrities because they don’t conform to our expectations?

  10. Adam Hermsdorfer

    Oct 22, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    The guy wins and has earned the right to be the #1 ranked player in the world. Who cares if he doesn’t display emotion or play the role of media darling. There’s plenty of examples of similar hard nosed players in other sports. If he played a team sport, I’m sure he would be labeled as the type of player who isn’t vocal and leads by example and would rather be seen than heard.

    • Csv

      Oct 23, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      Who cares? Brooks cares. Go back and read his remarks about not receiving enough press attention and fanfare. He’s said it more than a few times and carries a chip on his shoulder because of his self perceived media/press coverage or lack of it. He’s the one that brought this subject to light. In fact I bet this ararticle was written because of Brooks media comments.
      So to answer your question of “Who cares?”, Brooks most definately cares.

      • Terry

        Oct 24, 2018 at 12:22 am

        I absolutely agree. The issue is that Brooks ABSOLUTELY cares. He’s going to remember the people who forgot him? Wow. Petty much? He’s an amazing talent and I could care less if he is emotional on the course but make no mistake he cares. A lot.

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The Gear Dive: Discussing the drivers of 2020 with Bryan LaRoche



In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with his good buddy Bryan LaRoche. They chat on life and do a deep dive into the drivers of 2020.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The 5 indisputable rules of bunker play



I received a particularly interesting question this week from Art S., who said he has read all the tips about how to hit different sand shots, from different sand conditions, but it would be helpful to know why. Specifically, here’s what Art had to say:

“I recently found myself in a few sand traps in multiple lies and multiple degrees of wetness. I tried remembering all of the “rules” of how to stand, how much to open my club, how much weight to shift forward or back, etc. based on the Golf Channel but was hoping that you might be able to do a blog on the ‘why’ of sand play so that we can understand it rather than memorizing what to do. Is there any way you can discuss what the club is doing and why you open the club, open your stance, what you’re aiming for when you open up, and any other tips?”

Well, Art, you asked a very good question, so let’s try to cover the basics of sand play–the “geometry and physics” at work in the bunkers–and see if we can make all of this more clear for you.

First of all, I think bunkers are among the toughest of places to find your ball. We see the tour players hit these spectacular bunker shots every week, but realize that they are playing courses where the bunkers are maintained to PGA Tour standards, so they are pretty much the same every hole and every week. This helps the players to produce the “product” the tour is trying to deliver–excitement. Of course, those guys also practice bunker play every day.

All of us, on the other hand, play courses where the bunkers are different from one another. This one is a little firmer, that one a little softer. So, let me see if I can shed a little light on the “whys and wherefores” of bunker play.

The sand wedge has a sole with a downward/backward angle built into it – we call that bounce. It’s sole (no pun intended) function is to provide a measure of “rejection” force or lift when the club makes contact with the sand. The more bounce that is built into the sole of the wedge, the more this rejection force is applied. And when we open the face of the wedge, we increase the effective bounce so that this force is increased as well.

The most basic thing you have to assess when you step into a bunker is the firmness of the sand. It stands to reason that the firmer the texture, the more it will reject the digging effect of the wedge. That “rejection quotient” also determines the most desirable swing path for the shot at hand. Firmer sand will reject the club more, so you can hit the shot with a slightly more descending clubhead path. Conversely, softer or fluffier sand will provide less rejection force, so you need to hit the shot with a shallower clubhead path so that you don’t dig a trench.

So, with these basic principles at work, it makes sense to remember these “Five Indisputable Rules of Bunker Play”

  1. Firmer sand will provide more rejection force – open the club less and play the ball back a little to steepen the bottom of the clubhead path.
  2. Softer sand will provide less rejection force – open the club more and play the ball slighter further forward in your stance to create a flatter clubhead path through the impact zone.
  3. The ball will come out on a path roughly halfway between the alignment of your body and the direction the face is pointing – the more you open the face, the further left your body should be aligned.
  4. On downslope or upslope lies, try to set your body at right angles to the lie, so that your swing path can be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, so this geometry can still work. Remember that downhill slopes reduce the loft of the club and uphill slopes increase the loft.
  5. Most recreational golfers are going to hit better shots from the rough than the bunkers, so play away from them when possible (unless bunker play is your strength).

So, there you go, Art. I hope this gives you the basics you were seeking.

As always, I invite all of you to send in your questions to be considered for a future article. It can be about anything related to golf equipment or playing the game–just send it in. You can’t win if you don’t ask!

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Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Task to target



In this week’s episode: How having a target will improve your direction and contact you have with the ball.

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