2021 Writing Contest Results


 HOUSTON (March 15, 2021) – In a uniquely complicated year that gave birth to new terms such as social distancing, Zooming and vaccine efficacy, the 2021 GWAA Writing Contest entries reflected a broader range of topics than just tournament golf coverage.

Golf Digest led the awards with Joel Beall capturing the first two wins of his career and Jerry Tarde earning his seventh first place. Beall won Game Stories with his story on Bryson DeChambeau’s first major win at the 2020 U.S. Open and he won News Stories with a piece on the Yale Golf Course’s rebrith. Beall also scored two honorable mentions. Tarde won Non-Daily Columns for his thoughts on why Lee Elder should be an honorary starter at the Masters. picked up two first-places with Alan Shipnuck earning his 12th career win and Josh Sens getting his second win. Shipnuck combined with co-author Michael Bamberger, who now has seven wins, to win Special Projects for a rollicking fiction piece, “The Masters That Never Was”, while Sens won Daily Features for a story on Mancil Davis, the legendary Texas pro who claims 51 aces.

Ian O’Connor, writing for, earned his 8th first-place honor with a Daily Column on the special golf/sports bond he had with his late brother. Tom Coyne got his first win for a compelling and raw story in The Golfers Journal about a golf league for recovering alcoholics.

The GWAA writing award-winners are normally honored at the ISPS HANDA GWAA Annual Awards Dinner during Masters week but the dinner will not be held this year because of limited media and patron attendance.

The full list of winners follows, as well as links to the winning stories and a judge’s comment on each first-place story.

Beall on rebirth of Yale golf course: “This is a meticulously reported and beautifully written story about the re-birth of what many consider the best college golf course in the country. A Yale journalism professor would surely grade this piece A-plus.”

Beall on DeChambeau’s first major: “The golfer proved he could do it on his terms, with his game plan. The writer proved he could best tell the story.”

O’Connor’s column after his brother’s death: “Especially in these times, such a touching story of a relationship seemed so relevant. What Golf and all sports can mean in forging those types of bonds is a powerful message. Tough subject matter done so very well.”

Sens on Texas pro Mancil Davis: “This is one of the most unique stories you’ll read about the most exciting thing in golf, the hole in one, and a whimsical journey that ends with a lie detector test. An ace of a piece.”

Tarde on Elder: “The honorary starters taking their Thursday swings in the dew at the Masters is a snippet of golf history. And the writer felt this history should include Lee Elder as a look back at a very important moment for a sport not exactly littered with such moments for even great black golfers.”

Coyne on unique league for recovering alcoholics: “Frank and painful first-person accounts from a group of alcoholics that came together in a unique golf league. The writer did a masterful job of showing how the sport can, surprisingly, play a healing role in one of the country’s major social/health issues.”

Bamberger/Shipnuck fictional 2020 Masters: “A Dan Jenkins-type fictional romp on what might have been the traditional 2020 Masters week if not for the Coronavirus. Along with humorous plot twists, genuine Augusta National color and background are mixed in for a satisfying golf fantasy.”

See full results below.

Contact: Melanie Hauser, GWAA

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The following is a full list of winners, including honorable mention.

There were 360 total entries in the 2021 contest. 

NEWS STORIES – 1, Joel Beall, “Yale Is Back From the Dead,”; 2, John Feinstein, “Love’s Home Up In Flames,”; 3, Ryan Lavner, “SMU’s Enloe Steps Down,” .

Honorable mention — Dylan Dethier, “How Golf Was Last Sport Standing,”; Bill Fields, “Pete Dye Passes Away,”; Ryan Lavner, “Coronavirus Shuts Down Golf,”; Jason Sobel, “Masters Gets Postponed,”

GAME STORIES – 1, Joel Beall, “DeChambeau Proves Revolution is Real,” Golf Digest; 2, Bill Fields, “Johnson Takes Command,”; 3, Hank Gola, “DeChambeau Tames Winged Foot,” NY Daily News.

Honorable mention — Jeff Babineau, “Hatton is a Brit With Grit,”; Dylan Dethier, “Olsen’s Unforgettable Finish,”; Ryan Lavner, “The Bryson Revolution Begins,”

DAILY COLUMNS – 1, Ian O’Connor, “On the death of a brother, Tiger’s epic Masters and the Bonding Power of Sports,”; 2, Shane Ryan, “The Bryson Effect, Ready or Not,”; 3, Jason Sobel, “Kobe and Tiger Forever,”

Honorable mention — Ron Green, Jr., “Another Step on a Long Road,”;

Shane Ryan, “Golf in 2020 is in Evolution,”; Dave Seanor, “Saudis Guilty of Sports-Washing,”

DAILY FEATURES – 1, Josh Sens, “Did This Texas Pro Really Make 51 Aces?”; 2. (TIE) Dylan Dethier, “The Man Reborn at Amen Corner,”; Michael Williams, “Insensitivity, Empathy and Redemption,”

Honorable mention —  Joel Beall, “From Potato Fields to Pinehurst,”; Joel Beall, “Curious Case of Metacomet G.C.”; Ryan Lavner, “Im’s Brotherly Bond,”

NON-DAILY COLUMNS – 1, Jerry Tarde, “The Last Accolades for a Good Man,” Golf Digest, August; 2 (TIE) Michael Bamberger, “My Mother and Golf,” Golf Magazine; Jeff Silverman, “The Scavenger Society,” The Golfer’s Journal; Gary Van Sickle, “I Hit It Too Darn Far,” AZ Golf Insider.

Honorable mention — Derek Duncan, “Roughly Speaking,” Golf Digest; Bill Fields, “The Long and Longer of It,” The Met Golfer.

NON-DAILY FEATURES – 1, Tom Coyne, “The Lucky Ones,” The Golfer’s Journal; 2, (TIE) Guy Cipriano, “Driving Through,” Golf Course Industry; Oliver Horowitz, “A Wild Trip to Nepal,” Golf Digest.

Honorable mention — Adam Schupak, “Watson Uses Cutting to Cope,” Golfweek; Alan Shipnuck, “Mike Strantz, Artist,” Golf Magazine; Gary Van Sickle, “Nick Price and the Great Adventure,” Memorial Tournament Magazine.

SPECIAL PROJECTS – 1, Alan Shipnuck and Michael Bamberger, “The Masters That Never Was,”; 2, Michael Bamberger, Dylan Dethier, Luke Kerr-Dineen, Alan Shipnuck, Jonathan Wall, Sean Zak, “Will DeChambeau Transform Golf,”; 3, Tony Dear, “Build It And They Might Come,”

Honorable mention — Steve Eubanks, Ron Green, Jr., John Hopkins, Jim Nugent, John Steinbreder, New World Order,”; Rex Hoggard and Ryan Lavner, “Portrait of an Empty Augusta,”; Ian O’Connor, “Saddle Up, It’s Jack vs. Tiger,”