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Article: The Future of Golf

The future of golf, timeline showcasing what the article is about, with various sections showing golf fashion trends, industry demographics, and more.

The Future of Golf

 Golf Fashion Trends, Demographics, and More


Golf, a sport often associated with traditional values, has undergone a captivating evolution in recent decades. In this article, we will delve into the contemporary evolution of golf, spanning golf fashion trends, diversity, technological advancements, golf demographics, and broader golf trends. Drawing on statistics and key developments, we will explore how these factors have collectively shaped the sport into its current form.

Millennials comprise approximately 33% of the total number of golfers in the United States today. This demographic shift may surprise the traditional golfing community, which has long been linked with middle-aged and older enthusiasts. Nonetheless, the emergence of younger talents have grown popularity in the younger demographic, along with covid. Recent data highlights a significant trend, with over 17 million millennials expressing enthusiasm to partake in golf in 2024.  63% of millennials hope to join a private club one day and 85% of them say they play to be with friends.

Golf pass - Promising trends in millennial golfers

However, this substantial trend is poised to influence various aspects of golf, including social norms and the integration of technology into the game. As elaborated upon in forthcoming sections, it's evident that millennials and Generation Z are becoming champions of technology, leveraging it to enhance the golfing experience.

Another compelling demographic shift involves the increasing interest in golf among women. As of 2019, women constituted roughly a quarter of all golfers, with surveys indicating their growing presence in beginner and junior segments. Remarkably, women are particularly drawn to off-course golf experiences, representing almost 40% of all off-course golf participants.

Global Pandemic Surges Golf's Popularity

The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a surge in golf's popularity as people sought outdoor activities amid lockdowns. The sport witnessed increased interest among millennial and Gen Z demographics, who once showed less enthusiasm. The shift toward remote work provided more time for hobbies, thus contributing to the sport's growth. The evolving landscape sees a rise in women and younger players, promising a bright future for golf's inclusivity.

Evolution of Golf Fashion Trends

Golf style is gaining popularity among Gen Z and millennials, with the sport's evolving fashion influencing the trend. The conventional polo shirts and neatly pressed slacks that once dominated golf courses are now being challenged by a new generation of players and growth in golf fashion trends. These brands are redefining golf fashion with abstract-patterned shirts, logo-rich hoodies, patchwork varsity jackets, and even golf shoes inspired by sneakers.

The modern golf landscape is redefining the on-course appearance, with a progression initiated by players like Rickie Fowler, who introduced the flat bill hat and distinctive clothing choices. This shift in player fashion has gradually trickled down to local courses. Brooks Koepka's endorsement of hoodies, despite initial resistance, signifies the pushing of boundaries, fostering adaptability and change.

Breakthrough Golf Technology

One of the most remarkable transformations within golf is the pervasive technological advancement that has revolutionized every facet of the sport. Gone are the days of wooden clubs and gutta-percha balls; instead, cutting-edge materials and manufacturing techniques are shaping state-of-the-art equipment. Advanced alloys and carbon composites have replaced traditional materials, offering golfers unprecedented precision and power in their swings.  Legacy golf brands are innovating new club technology so quickly, that it pushed Nike out of the golf scene.  They couldn't keep up with the rapid pace of development that the other brands were implementing.  

Golf ball technology stands out as a significant innovation, enhancing distance, control, and spin. Modern golf balls employ multi-layer constructions, intricate dimple patterns, and aerodynamic designs to achieve previously unattainable shots.

GPS watches, rangefinders becoming more advanced, GPS on golf carts at certain clubs, the list goes on, but technology induced into golf is here to stay.

The democratization of the sport through technology is noteworthy, enabling amateurs to rival professionals in distance and control. As technology continues to evolve, the coming decades promise even more advancements, further leveling the playing field.

Course Design and Maintenance Innovations

The evolution of golf course design and maintenance has played a pivotal role in shaping the sport. While traditional courses maintain their allure, contemporary designs incorporate innovation to enhance playability and sustainability. Architects now integrate natural landscapes, water features, and challenging obstacles, creating courses catering to diverse skill levels.

Environmental consciousness has also prompted eco-friendly practices in course maintenance. Water-saving irrigation systems, native plantings, and sustainable turf management harmonize golf courses with their surroundings, ensuring the preservation of green spaces for future generations.

Enhanced Global Accessibility

Accessibility to golf has expanded dramatically, dismantling barriers that previously restricted participation. What was once seen as an exclusive sport is now accessible to a broader demographic. Public golf courses, academies, and community programs have democratized the sport, offering affordable access to equipment, instruction, and playing opportunities.

Virtual golf experiences have further broadened accessibility, enabling enthusiasts to practice and compete digitally. These shifts align with the contemporary desire for interaction within a digital era, catering to remote workforces and fostering meaningful connections.  

5iron golf simulators and bars have grown notable popularity, especially in big cities like NYC, where golf isn't readily available to all.  Easily can grab your Seaport Serenity glove and hit a 5iron if you are living downtown.

Women in Golf

Golf's evolution extends beyond technology and accessibility to encompass cultural perceptions and gender dynamics. Historically, golf faced criticism for its male-dominated culture and exclusivity. Recent decades have witnessed a notable transformation with women joining the sport in drones.  

Efforts to include women in golf have gained traction, with initiatives like the LPGA elevating female golfers to global recognition. Gender disparities are being addressed, leading to increased participation, better opportunities, and the rise of female role models. This shift enriches the sport and contributes to a diverse and vibrant golfing community, still a long way to go, but definitely making strides.

Women's growth in golf has been one of the most impressive trends in this sport.  As there has been a very noticeable improvement in recent years.  Truthfully, women are the future in terms of taking golf to the next level, since there is still so much opportunity for growth within that segment.  Still there is a very common complaint that clothing options for women in the golf space are lackluster at best.  We wrote an article about some ideas for the women breaking into the scene that want ideas on golf outfits that will embrace their identity here.

Women on the golf course has grown to 25%, from 19% a few years ago.  An even larger jump in Juniors, where girls playing golf rose to 35%.  In 2000 it was 15%, more covered on women in golf in this Bloomberg article.  

Media's Role and Broadcasting Impact

The digital age has revolutionized golf's experience and consumption. Media and broadcasting bring global golf tournaments and events closer to fans. High-definition broadcasts, interactive online platforms, and social media engagement immerse fans in the excitement of the game.

Technological advancements also provide data-driven analysis and real-time statistics, granting fans insights into player performance and strategies. Innovations in gambling, with platforms like Fanduel and DraftKings, contribute to popularity and viewership growth, particularly among younger audiences.

Golf's Remarkable Growth Statistics:

- A record-breaking 3.2 million people played golf for the first time in 2021.
- Prior to the pandemic, the highest recorded first-time players were 2.4 million in 2000.
- Around 18 million non-golfers express high interest in playing golf on a course.
- An additional 42 million express some level of interest.
- 77% of golfers are men, while 22% are women.
- Golfers boast an average household income of $125,000.
- In 2021, 55% of baby boomers, 12% of millennials, 7% of Gen X, and 4% of Gen Z played golf.
- From 2019 to the present, female golfers grew from 5.6 million to 6.4 million.
- Female participation surged 15% post-pandemic, compared to 2% for males.

NGF Golf Statistics

Golfer Jobs Demographics

Acquisition of LIV from PGA

There hasn't been bigger news in the golf world on this merger.  Whether you agree with it or not, this is going to truly make an impact on the game.  LIV was creating a culture of loosening up traditions, and creating a more dynamic and lively experience.  Of course the ethics behind buying the players the way they were can be debated.  However, the impact it will have on the game moving forward will be interesting to see.  NY Times does a great overview of the LIV and PGA acquisition.

What is the future of golf?

We can make a lot of assumptions on where the industry is heading based on current evolution, what other industries are seeing, and what would generally make sense for the sport.  Some of our predictions for the future are highlighted here with a couple of key points.

1. Looser Golf Etiquette: Clothing requirements are expected to become more relaxed, mirroring trends observed in some local munis. Currently, some NYC courses you will see bright tank tops, shirtless players, and unconventional apparel choices may become more commonplace.  The looser etiquette from the LIV experience, could also trickle it's way onto local courses, and we are here for it.  As long as you aren't distracting your fellow peers, why not be able to wear what you want?

2. Quicker Play: Statistics are showing that the digital era from a work perspective consumes more of our lives.  Millennials and Gen Z notoriously have short attention spans.  This is show cased by popularity of TikTok short form videos, shows over taking movies in popularity, and everyone always being on the clock.   The demand for shorter rounds of play 9 vs 18 will likely rise. In an era marked by fast-paced lives, time constraints could lead to an evolution in golf's duration.  

3. Modern country clubs: More clubs are expected to emphasize a community-oriented atmosphere, attracting like-minded individuals. These modernized golf clubs will provide an immersive experience that extends beyond the course.  Think Soho House for Golf Courses, a way to play golf, and network with link minded individuals.  Getting off the 18th and switching from a transfusion to an old fashioned, imagine the possibilities.  Good music, good vibes, good food!  Keep an eye out for these kind of country clubs in the future, that offer a community, rather than just a stuffy country club.  An entire article can be done on this!  

4. More emphasis on community: With the digital era in full action, work from home, and a lot more isolation than before, it is certainly harder for individuals to be more social.  Golf is a great social sport that allows you to meet new people, and be in the sun in the process.  More brands and organizations will focus on golf communities to bring customers and individuals together.  To create commonalities, be social, network, and have fun. 

5. Emphasis on Diversity: The sport is moving towards greater diversity and inclusivity. Efforts by the PGA to create initiatives are contributing to a more welcoming and diverse golf environment.  This is a value we hold important to us at VivanTee, inclusivity means everything in this game, and we want to strive to make this an all inclusive experience for everyone.  Golf is an amazing game and should be adored by everyone, judgement free.  

“We want to have a game that mirrors America, we want to have a workforce that mirrors America,” Cross said. “The third part that we want to have mirror America is the golf industry supply chain.” Sandy Cross - Chief People Officer for the PGA

Diversity in golf, generation Z, future of golf - golf week.

6.  IoT in Golf: Smart golf balls have been the talks for a few years.  Forbes talks about a new brand called "OnCore" rolling out smart golf balls.  Soon we will be able to actually find our balls that we hit cleanly onto the fairway, but go missing!  

Final Thoughts

Golf's evolution across recent decades showcases the power of innovation, inclusivity, and adaptation. From its leisurely origins to a globally cherished sport, golf has embraced change while preserving its essence. Technological advancements, cultural shifts, accessibility improvements, and course design changes have collectively ushered golf into a new era.

The journey of golf's transformation is far from over. Year by year, fresh developments will continue shaping the sport's landscape, promising excitement, innovation, and growth for generations. The evolving world of golf welcomes both seasoned and novice players, promising an experience enriched by tradition and contemporary advancements.

Excitement brews for the future of golf, with several areas poised for growth. Evolving business opportunities, such as catering to the all gender, and female demographic, are on the horizon in golf equipment and fashion in 2024.  Subscribe to our newsletter to hear more about relevant golf industry trends, opportunities for exclusive releases with our products, and everything golf related.


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