Being a stick or a hack in our book is more a mentality and less about the actual play. I know that in most circles you look at someone who is a hack as somebody that moves around the course in a confusing maze of trees, sand traps, and hazards. But in reality, the stick and hack conversation is more about the mindset of the player.

On the PGA and LPGA tour, there are sticks and hacks even. A stick could be a golf nerd that soaks up every bit of golf coverage, instructional help, and equipment updates all while firing a smooth and boring 74. A hack could be a player that doesn’t practice, doesn’t get excited, and really doesn’t care about the nuances of the game of golf, yet fires a smooth 74.

Currently, Rory vs. Brooks fit the true Stick and Hack definition to a tee. Here is a story originally published on discussing the true differences in their personalities and their game.


By Dylan Dethier published 8.27.19

Over the weekend, a video of Brooks Koepka‘s press conference went viral. When the world No. 1 was asked about his shoes — a pair of Nike Off-White Air Max 90s  — Koepka had a strong reaction. “It’s fashion, bro,” he said. “This is such a typical golf nerd, like, 40-year-old white man, like…I don’t know how to explain that.”

The implication was clear, as it has been for years: Brooks Koepka is no golf nerd, thank you very much. It was another clear demarcation in the split between Koepka and Rory McIlroy, a burgeoning rivalry that the entire golf world should be rooting for.

McIlroy stared down Koepka in the final group on Sunday, posting 66 to his playing partner’s 72 and running away with the FedEx Cup in the process. But rather than the $15 million in prize earnings, McIlroy spoke afterward about a bunch of other numbers — numbers that reminded us just how much of a golf nerd he really is.

For starters, McIlroy had his eye on a secret leaderboard at the Tour Championship. Most golfers would arrive at the 18th hole at the end of the FedEx Cup finale thinking only about claiming the biggest single prize in golf history. McIlroy was intent on shooting the lowest 72-hole score, staggered start be damned.

“I was playing a little tournament inside my head. I wasn’t necessarily looking at the leaderboard the way it was. I was just trying to look at it from, okay, well, Xander is 9-under for the week and I’m 9-under, 8-under.”

McIlroy ended up with a three-stroke triumph over Schauffele in the “lowest 72-hole score” category — and a four-shot win overall. But his final-round 66 had more significance still. The Vardon trophy goes to the player with the lowest season-long scoring average, and McIlroy was well aware of where he stood entering the week.

Patrick Cantlay, he went to No. 1 in the stroke average last week because of Medinah, and I a hundred percent knew that coming in this week, and I wanted to end the season with No. 1 stroke average. There are just little motivating factors that don’t have to be about the tournament, but keep you where you need to be.”

Sure enough, McIlroy flipped positions with Cantlay after beating him by 22 shots over the four days to finish with a season-long stroke average of 69.057. McIlroy was happy with eclipsing Cantlay — but still not fully satisfied with his season-ending stats. He’s a big proponent of strokes gained statistics, and McIlroy threw down one of the all-time best strokes gained seasons, picking up 2.55 shots on the field every time out. But he could only sigh when he heard that final tally.

“Yeah, the Holy Grail is three. I’m not going to stop until I get to three because Tiger has done that multiple seasons, and when you get to three strokes gained, you’re just in another league. I mean, that’s what I strive towards.”