News & Opinion

It's golf and social media, to the Max

Max Homa, a 1-time winner on the PGA Tour, puts himself out there as golf's most engaging and entertaining social-media presence. He even offers instruction tips on Twitter ... if you dare

Anyone fishing for compliments on his golf swing is in shallow and murky water when venturing to Max Homa’s Twitter feed. Homa spares no one’s feelings when he critiques the creaks and flaws of amateurs’ driving-range videos.

The funny thing is, that doesn’t stop people from corresponding with him. His followers happily ask for the PGA Tour pro’s opinion and, apparently, just as happily take their medicine.

2019 Charles Schwab Challenge
Max Homa gives as good as he gets on social media, which makes the 29-year-old PGA Tour player a modern marvel.

For instance, there was one among his 117,500-plus followers who recently submitted a video embedded with the text, “Go on then, what’s my handicap? @maxhoma23 a penny for your thoughts?” Homa did not disappoint, quickly responding, “Ur lack of flexibility is your handicap.”

Having been the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2018 does not make a person immune, either. Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich posted footage of his lefty golf swing along with the comment, “Yo @maxhoma23 this might be the best one yet. Probably was going in the hole, but that’s just my opinion.” Homa fired back, “I’m gunna tell [Dodgers pitcher Clayton] Kershaw the secret to striking u out; just run up to the plate and put it on a tee.”

Not to be left out, the reigning MVP, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger, put in for a putdown. He asked, “Hey @maxhoma23, how does my swing look? Have a good night.” Homa’s night probably was more satisfying after he answered, “I was gunna wear your jersey during the tournament this year but now I may have to reconsider…”

All of which makes Homa golf’s most compelling and entertaining social-media follow. It also proves that playing on the pro tour is not as grim of an ordeal as a proctologist appointment (despite the way a few elite players have made it seem over the years).

On a sheer practical level, pro golfers are closer to their fans than any other athletes. At golf tournaments, spectators are allowed to mingle with the players, standing within arm’s length when even the greatest competitions are taking place. Homa, 29, winner of the 2019 Wells Fargo, has taken that concept to a new level.

His status as golf’s roastmaster general emerged after a tweet from follower Bryan McLaughlin, who thought golf Twitter had become a tad too intense post-Presidents Cup. McLaughlin implored Homa to digitally critique his swing the way celebrity chef Gordan Ramsay rips into amateur cooks’ mediocre dishes. Homa bliged, and a viral trend was born.

Soon, his fellow pros took the plunge. Justin Thomas offered some swings left-handed and in bare feet with the simple directive, “@maxhoma23 go.” Max Homa went with this: “If Adam Scott were lefty and balding …”

Ben Taylor waded in with these words inscribed above his pronounced bent-over stance: “@maxhoma23 give it to me” and Homa gave this to him: “If ur scores were as low as ur hands I think you’d be top 10 in the world.”

Homa was a Twitter legend even before he became a swing critic. Last year, he confessed to never telling Uber drivers what he does for a living because he doesn’t like to answer a lot of questions about it. Instead, he tells them that he is a Realtor, which once led to a problem because the driver was in the market for a house. Three years ago, Homa tweeted that several caddies wanted to team up with him because that would mean they’d usually get weekends off.

He told last year that, like all other 20-somethings, he grew up in the social-media age. He added, “It’s lonely on the road. I need to talk to somebody, so I use Twitter … if you’re someone like me who thinks of dumb one-sentence thoughts about golf or life that are completely harmless, you can create a following.”

But engaging the public is far from dumb. Having fun is refreshingly healthy. Other pro golfers, even iconic champions, have seemed absolutely allergic to pleasure and the public. Ben Hogan, the young Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Vijay Singh come to mind. Of course, Tiger Woods in his prime turned joylessness into an art form.

Woods has loosened up considerably in recent years, and he appears to be benefiting from it (although he really didn’t have to crow about beating Abraham Ancer in the Presidents Cup).

Yes, yes, we know there is more at stake than ever for pros, and competition is fierce. But where does it say that kicking back between rounds and between tournaments is as bad as grounding your club in a bunker?

We’ll take Homa any day, especially on a day when he tells a follower, “Plz for the love of God use the edit feature on ur smartphone. This video is 38 seconds too long.”

Or when he tweets, “Based on how happy u looked to hit that high slice, I imagine you don’t get it off the ground too often.”

Or when he tells a fellow who claimed his 3-wood shot travels 10 yards past Homa’s drives: “Congrats on bombing ur 3 wood. Lemme know if u need a discount on tickets for any of the PGA Tour events this season.”

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