Internet popularity is not a straight meritocracy, lest you think the Kardashians are really the most important people on the planet. This is also true in golf, where a guy who won one limited-field tournament drew far more eyeballs than a guy who grabbed two majors (Sorry about that, Brooks Koepka), and a Ryder Cup disaster on one side was inherently more interesting than the triumph on the other.

Then again, a review of the most popular stories on GolfDigest.com in 2018 is still a telling window into what resonates with golf audiences, and why. Among our takeaways studying our traffic patterns: a polite pursuit like golf still inspires plenty of friction, no one’s sure what to make of Patrick Reed, and stories of human persistence and redemption clearly still matter.

In terms of readership, these are the stories that performed best over the past year.

CELEBRATING FREEDOM: Valentino Dixon (right) and Max Adler embrace.

Photo by Jonathan Mehring” data-reactid=”31″>

CELEBRATING FREEDOM: Valentino Dixon (right) and Max Adler embrace.

Photo by Jonathan Mehring

Quite possibly the most unlikely story in our history. Valentino Dixon was a prisoner wrongfully convicted of murder who, to that point, had never set foot on a golf course. That Golf Digest’s Max Adler was still intrigued by his story was an essential step in his path to freedom.

Few people in golf lead a more complicated existence than David Feherty, a lighthearted presence on golf broadcasts and star of a one-man show who has endured through addiction, mental illness and the death of a son.

2018 Ryder Cup – Singles Matches -newsmakers
PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 30: Jordan Spieth of the United States reacst during singles matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 30, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 30: Jordan Spieth of the United States reacst during singles matches of the 2018 Ryder Cup at Le Golf National on September 30, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Christian Petersen

Arguably more entertaining than the Ryder Cup itself is all the hand-wringing that takes place before and after. This was especially true when the U.S. got blown out again on European soil, and everything from team chemistry to tight fairways were cited as reasons. An opposing view, however, was quite simple: Sometimes you just get beat.

Call it negativity bias, but we tend to respond to what we’re doing poorly better than what we’re doing well. Hence the conceit of this story that examines common mistakes made with our golf bags and how we can correct them.

It’s not a golf season without an assortment of rules controversies that only succeed in making golf rules seem unnecessarily complicated. This one especially is a head-scratcher, involving a collection of trusting high-school golfers given bad information by an ill-advised volunteer, and a collection of administrators left helpless in its wake.

A quick fix to one of golf’s enduring faults, from one of the best teachers in the world. If Tiger Woods was able to win five majors with Hank Haney, we’d be wise to listen to as well.

Outrage, like misery, is best enjoyed in group settings, hence the premise for this piece on all those things in the game that don’t quite make sense. For instance, making a hole-in-one and then having to buy everyone drinks.

Another installment in a popular franchise in which Golf Digest writers survey players, coaches, and other insiders about pertinent topics focused on one player in one tournament—Tiger Woods in the Masters. With Woods set to play Augusta National for the first time in three years, opinions ranged from the technical to the existential.

Cheating accusations in professional golf are like asteroid collisions—infrequent, but devastating. So when Joel Dahmen took issue with a drop made by playing partner Sung Kang in July at the Quicken Loans National, it set off a chain reaction on the golf course, on social media, and beyond.

When a player works his way into contention at the Masters, an inevitable question is whether you should root for him. With Patrick Reed, the eventual green jacket winner last April, it was really a question of whether you’re rooting for the fiery competitor with an all-world short game, or an abrasive golfer with a murky past?

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Robert Laberge/Getty Images

More than three years removed from a celebrated run that included his first PGA Tour win and a spot in the final pairing of the Masters, Kaufman opens up about his decline since, and the fun had at his expense online.