Barstool Sports - Sam "Riggs" Bozoian
Written by Andrew Gegg; Photographer and Golfer
Barstool Sports was started by Dave Portnoy in 2003 as a print publication distributed in the Boston metropolitan area and offered gambling advertisements and fantasy sports projections. Barstool later expanded to encompass other topics. Barstool launched on the internet in 2007 and in 2016, Sam “Riggs” Bozoian became a staple. Prior to joining Barstool, Riggs was a blogger, writing thousands of articles on his own, over the course of several years. Riggs attempted to gain the attention of Mr. Portnoy and eventually got the reply he’d been waiting for. Dave gave Riggs a trial run to blog on the Barstool website, several weeks later, this became his full-time job. Riggs had a desire to write about golf, citing his love of the game. Portnoy was straight forward, saying, “if it was good, then Barstool would publish it.” In February of 2017 “Fore Play”, the podcast was launched, changing the game for Barstool moving forward.
The success of “Fore Play” is impossible to ignore. If you pay attention to golf at all, you’ve likely listened to or heard of the podcast. “We’re always evolving. Trying to grow and expand while being everywhere that we can be. We’re obsessed with golf and we know millions of others are too,” Riggs said while discussing the future of the podcast. He outlined his plan; adapting to new social platforms popping up, creating new video content and new live events, and creating more products will play a crucial role in the growth and expansion of the hit podcast.
New live events have definitely helped grow the golf side of Barstool. Riggs and the crew developed the “Barstool Classic”, a golf event spanning the entire country with several stops in major cities and featuring some of the nicest courses in the country. I asked Riggs about the Barstool Classic and how it’s evolved since it was introduced just a couple of years ago, “Well in 2019 we did 8 qualifiers, in 2020 we did 16, and this year we’re doing 26. So, I’d say it continues to get bigger and better. Our first year was a 1-day championship at Liberty National; this year will be a 4-day championship at Pinehurst, the U.S. Open’s first and only anchor site.” This is wildly impressive growth over three years. I myself have experienced how popular this event is after trying to sign up for the St. Louis event back in 2020, where I was unable to attend because it sold out within minutes. Riggs also mentioned that while he does want the event to continue its growth, he’s committed to making sure it’s done right. What makes these events so special are the intimate experiences with the fans and the fact that they are competitive golf tournaments. Riggs wants neither to be lost in the growth.
With the continued growth of golf within Barstool Sports, Riggs mentioned he believes golf products will play a role moving forward. Some notable partnerships Riggs and the team have created are with Taylormade and Peter Millar. Two goliaths in the golf industry. Speaking on how the Taylormade partnership came to be, Riggs said, “Our greatest asset is that we’re not good at golf, because an overwhelming majority of people who play golf are not good at golf. That relatability makes a partnership like this very valuable and real. Who in the world hasn’t wished they could outfit their entire bag with fresh Taylormades?” So that covers the equipment side, but what about the apparel? Riggs said it was a “no brainer” to go with Peter Millar. He has been wearing their merchandise for years. Looking good and feeling comfortable on the course are just as important to most golfers as any other aspect of the game. That’s where Barstool saw the real value in partnering with such an elite brand.
Riggs has a strong passion for golf. He shared a story with me, one that he also shared with the world through an Instagram post, but hearing it firsthand, hit me a different way. Riggs posted an emotional video about leaving Pinehurst. I asked him why leaving Pinehurst made him so emotional. “I met Tom Pashley, president of Pinehurst, on a buddies trip run by Matt Ginella in 2019. We hit it off and he insisted the Fore Play crew get to Pinehurst to experience it for ourselves. We went a few months later and loved it. About 4 months after that, the pandemic hit and the world started to shut down. I knew I didn’t want to be stuck in my tiny Manhattan apartment, so I reached out to Pash and he told me to come on down. I booked about a $60 one-way flight for the next day, and it wasn’t until 99 days later I slept somewhere other than Pinehurst.” Hearing stories like that are rare. Having an experience like that is unforgettable. This ties in to why the game of golf has grown exponentially over the last few years. There are several factors that could claim they are the cause for the growth in golf. Tiger’s return, the Covid-19 pandemic, and maybe people starting to appreciate the game more. But there’s a strong possibility that Sam “Riggs” Bozoian, and his “Fore Play” podcast crew have also made an impact; growing this beautiful game we love. This has been accomplished through humor, experiences, and just showing the world that golf can be for anyone.