Just as golfers constantly strive to improve, so too do websites -- not in driving accuracy or three-putt avoidance, mind you, but in their load times, navigation, mobile performances and a host of other nerdy metrics that can mean the difference between a mediocre experience for our readers and viewers and a memorable one.
Over many months at GOLF.com headquarters we’ve spent countless hours dissecting our site and digging answers out of the digital dirt. We identified what we do well and not so well – and, perhaps most important, what we needed to blow up and build from scratch. Then, bit by byte, we put the site back together. The result, after more than a few shanks, curses and blisters, is what you see before you today: a new and vastly improved GOLF.com.
The cleaner, airier design is the most obvious change. But you’ll also notice more -- and bigger -- photography on the homepage, on section fronts and in our articles and galleries. Golf is such a visual game, from its scenic venues, to its sleek equipment, to … well, insert John Daly outfit here. Pictures often can tell a story in ways that prose cannot. Case in point: our fabulous new 360-degree club-spin technology, dynamic new equipment review pages, and interactive swing sequences you can control with a click of your mouse. (This is an apt time to doff our visors to the real brains behind our overhaul: Sports Illustrated Group head of product Krys Krycinski, SI Group head of product development Alex Charalambides, and their super-talented team.)
We’ve upped our game in other ways, too. Our pages load faster (sorry, J-Day, pace of play does matter), scroll more smoothly, and are blessedly less cluttered. Our navigation is more intuitive, our search tool smarter and more precise, our fonts more modern. Our Course Finder sorts courses by location and budget. (It’ll soon be joined by a Club Finder.) Our leaderboard serves up scores in real time and links to player pages loaded with stats. Oh, and you’ll love how our site looks and performs on mobile.
We’re also using this refresh as an opportunity to make an editorial pivot, refocusing more of our attention on fulfilling your needs not only as a consumer of golf news but also as a passionate participant in the game. That means we’ll be dedicating more ink, images and video to covering equipment, game improvement, and courses and travel -- all generated by our expert fleet of writers, Top 100 Teachers and gear gurus. (By the way, if you haven’t already downloaded our free Fix Finder instruction app, get on it! In April, we’ll be rolling out a new and improved second iteration with lots more how-to videos and other goodies.)
In the market for golf gear? You can now buy clubs, attire and gadgets on our site, and book tee times, too. If GOLF.com isn’t already your go-to spot for all your golf lifestyle needs, we’re committed to it becoming just that.
None of this means that we’ll cease to be the place to turn for breaking golf news and insider analysis of the game’s biggest stories. In fact, we’re doubling down on that front, too. One of the game’s most talented and tapped-in writers, our own Alan Shipnuck, now has his own channel on the site, so you’ll always know where to find his smart, unfiltered takes and revealing profiles – don’t miss his latest piece, a colorful portrait of Tour bad boy Pat Perez. Shipnuck’s digital fiefdom is called The Knockdown, and we’re confident it’ll fast become required reading for golf fans of all stripes. You can also continue to rely on us for a steady stream of hard-nosed reporting and elegant dispatches from Michael Bamberger. For my money, Shipnuck and Bamberger are the best one-two punch in golf journalism.
We’re hopeful you like the site improvements as much as we do (we welcome your feedback on Twitter at @golf_com, or on our Facebook page), but we’re not repairing to the 19th hole to clink glasses just yet. Actually, we’re just getting started. Or re-started. Because a website, like a golf swing, is a perpetual work in progress.
Alan Bastable is the executive editor of GOLF.com.