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Fire Pit 2.0

Two years into this grand experiment we have restructured the Collective, but the content will continue to flow

By Alan Shipnuck
March 1, 2023

In January 2020, Matt Ginella left Golf Channel after eight years. He launched his own company to continue telling the longform stories that made him a leader in the travel space, with plans to bring back the buddies-trip “Ambush” that was so successful at Golf Digest and a focus on golf course developments and restorations. A couple of months later the pandemic hit, shutting down leisure travel for the foreseeable future. Matt pivoted and created the narrative Fire Pit podcast, launching the first episode in April 2020. Almost a year later, I was leaving Golf Magazine. Like Matt—a close friend going back to the mid-90’s when we were both coming up at Sports Illustrated—I was burnt out on the compromises and inefficiencies of corporate media. For months, Matt had been selling me on the idea of creating our own company, which would combine old-fashioned storytelling with a modern-media approach. We could be an independent voice that golf needed, covering the game without fear or favor. On February 22, 2021, we had a freighted phone call.

“I’m in,” I said.

You’re in?” Matt shouted. “Fuck yeah!”


“Now what?”

The Fire Pit quickly morphed from merely a podcast to a larger collective of voices; we were lucky to have people in the golf world who believed in our vision and were willing to invest in the company, allowing us to hire a talented team of content creators and multi-faceted technical folks. Too big, too soon? Maybe. But Matt and I are decades removed from our 20s—slow, incremental growth is a young man’s game. We were swinging for the fences.

The FPC turned into a content machine. Matt produced rich, immersive travel pieces that focused on culture as much as the golf courses. FirePitCollective.com was the launching pad for my Phil Mickelson biography, which ignited the biggest (non-Tiger) golf story of this century. In addition to the Fire Pit, we established enduring podcast franchises Fire Drill and Need a Fourth?!, giving recurring platforms to one of the wisest voices in golf, U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy. We flooded the zone at the major championships with read-watch-listen content, energized by the addition of Michael Bamberger, the dean of the golf beat. (Our coverage of last summer’s majors recently earned some nice recognition by the Golf Writers Association of America.) We shined a light on the gritty reality of life on the fringes of professional golf with the cinematic docuseries “The Grind.”

Unfortunately, art and commerce don’t always go hand-in-hand. We have spent the last couple of months restructuring the FPC, and it’s been hard to part ways with people we love and admire. But Matt, myself, Michael and Geoff, along with talented technicians Jake Muldowney and Aaron Adkins, will continue blasting out typed articles, podcasts, video storytelling and social media salvos. We’ve gotten leaner with the focus on growing the “business.” We will continue to have a syndication deal with Golf Digest and keep supplying Golf Channel with meaningful features, and we’re in talks with other distribution channels. In addition, we have ambitious plans going forward to create even more of a community with the Fire Pit fans who, collectively, have made this such a rewarding adventure. The grind continues for us, too.

Thanks again for your support. We’ve learned a lot over the last two years. Now, we gotta get back to work.

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18 thoughts on “Fire Pit 2.0”

  1. Good luck to all of you in this endeavor. One thing that is perfectly clear every time I view FPC content: everybody involved truly respects the reader and that is a breath of fresh air.

  2. Alan,
    We have your back and you have our support (The “We” is not the imperial “We” of Queen Victoria, but all of us who love golf and great writing). The FPC has been a regular read/watch/learn for me since it began. Best of luck with FPC 2.0 and I look forward to being a part of your audience for years to come.

  3. DeweyHavMustard

    Just so you know, most of the people that follow you guys did so for the people you have now “lost” in you “restructuring”. Good luck.

  4. You guys are fluffing yourselves while hitting rock bottom. A truly impressive display in lacking self awareness. Ginella is a grifter and scam artist. Time to put the campfire out for good.

  5. First, I’d like to say that I’ve found the content on your site to be refreshing, I’ve especially enjoyed the weekly Fire Drill podcasts. The interaction between you (Alan), Michael and Ryan seemed to really work as the three of you seem to come from different places, perspectives and backgrounds. These differences made for very interesting and diverse conversations and discussion topics. That is likely why this Fire Pit Collective 2.0 story was so surprising to me. I wanted to say that as a reader and follower I’m ‘entitled’ to get more information about this shake up, but that is probably going too far. I would go as far as to say that I would like to know more about this decision and specifically why Ryan French isn’t going to be a part of this site moving forward. Unless that was his decision, it seems like a big loss for the group especially because some of the best reporting and podcasts on the site have done a good job at focusing the attention on the golfers on the fringe of the PGA Tour and other mini tours. Personally I’m sad to see Ryan not involved moving forward.

    1. I agree with Jay. Ryan’s ability to cover the fringe players adds a lot of interest. He would probably have come up with an interesting Kitayama story none of us knew of for this week.

  6. I’m glad you’re continuing and appreciate all the depth — and smarts — of your focus. But I’ll very much miss Ryan French, who brought something hugely special to your endeavor.

  7. William Ignelzi

    Ironic that on the day the PGA Tour announces a series of no cut events that will see the richest 60 plus players get richer FPC announces the (apparent) departure of the one reporter willing to dig into the professional game’s lower leagues.

    The wheels of commerce grind on.

  8. Puh! For a second, I thought it was over…; Glad to hear you and Michael in particular continue the show as you are among the top 5 golf writers in the world! And don´t ever think about cutting «Ask Alan» (briliant topics every time!)!!

  9. Brandon Martin

    So…..Ryan French and Laz are out. Onward and upward with Shipnuck, Michael B, Matt and Geoff? Do I have that right?

  10. I am looking forward to Fire Pit Collective 2.0. I hope that you are immediately successful enough to bring back Ryan French, if he is available. Write on, Alan and Michael! You are the best golf writers on the planet.


    From Day 1, I have been curious about FPC’s financial structure. To be more precise: I don’t see a revenue stream, yet tons of expenses starting with salaries. For a site that delves so deeply into the finances of men’s professional golf, both LIV and PGA Tour, FPC’s lack of financial transparency seems hypocritical. I really think that journalistic integrity requires addressing the question of who/what pays your bills. Is that an unreasonable question? Are the businesses shown below really paying for everything?


    Why on earth would they owe us financial transparency? We are all big boys and girls, yes? Enjoy the writing! This is golf, for Christ’s sake.

    Sorry to see French go. His pieces on his Dad and the characters in his hometown’s golf scene were really excellent.

  13. Ryan French gave this site something unique. If he is no longer with you all, you made a horrible decision.

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