Ryan McCook, also known as "The Gambler," is a future Golden Tee Hall of Famer. He has had dominant performances on the National Golden Tee Tour and lays claim to three major tournament victories, with the latest one coming a few weeks ago at the 2023 Carolina Clash. However, Ryan was not always feared on the trackball.
To learn how he developed into this force, we must travel back a bit more than a few years ago. The year is 1996 and McCook has just started driving. Every day after school he would race his friends down to a BBQ joint in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. This location was about 21 miles away from school. Once they arrived, they would order some snacks and spin a few rounds of Golden Tee without thinking much of it.
Ryan would not start taking the game seriously until around 2003. During this time he would play at an Ale House in Jacksonville that was home to three Golden Tee machines and would have anywhere from four to sixteen players trying to grab a tee time. It was around this time that Ryan realized he could make his car payment just by playing Golden Tee against his buddies in side games, where they would play for one to five dollars each.
This bar in Jacksonville would become the house that Ryan McCook built as he would invite guys like Tobin Carter (another GT community presence that has sadly since passed on) and Rob Holtrey (Orlando, FL) to make the trip up from Orlando and “donate” to the Ryan McCook car payment fund. Ryan would eventually meet a player by the name of Mike Demko (Detroit, Michigan) and his eyes bulged as he noticed Demko’s $5,000 balance in his player wallet.
At this point The Gambler knew he needed to double down on his future with Golden Tee. He started traveling to tournaments and befriended titans of the game like Graig Kinzler, Andy Haas and Chris Litzinger. Ryan gives credit to Andy Haas for teaching him how to thumb the trackball and hit cut shots more effectively. Ryan also gives credit to Power Events for their role in growing the game and tournament play.
Ryan would go on to win his first National Golden Tee Tour event in 2010 and subsequently step away from the game that he loved around that same time to focus on family and career. In 2017, McCook began working as a golf rep at PXG and met fellow community member Kevin O`Connor in a bar in Northern Virginia. After spinning a few rounds with O’Connor, McCook fell right back in love with the game like it was just yesterday and his competitive spirit was renewed with a vengeance.
What does the future hold for The Gambler? If you are a betting man, he is a heavy favorite to take the crown at the Top Gun Player of the Year tournament, especially after his outstanding performance at the Carolina Clash. On the road to victory at the Clash, Ryan had to defeat the likes of Haas, Paul Tayloe, Ed Godfrey and more. Ryan’s trajectory leading into the player of the year is outstanding and it will be very interesting to see if he can continue his hot streak.
“I have met many great friends along this journey and constantly speak very highly of the community. It's just such a great group of people and I`m very happy to be a part of it.” – Ryan McCook