Welcome to The 100 Most Influential People in Golf, a brand-new ranking of the men and women who have made the biggest difference in the game in the last year…
Influence Noun; The capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.
According to the R&A, there are around 66.6 million golfers in the world – and every single one of them has, in some way, been influenced by people on this list – the first ranking of its kind.
Whether you’ve bought a dozen balls, a new driver, watched a clip on YouTube, shared a Tweet, liked an Instagram post or played a top course, the reach of the 100 people on the following pages is simply staggering.
Of course, the word ‘influencer’ has evolved in the last decade; it’s no longer the sole preserve of men in suits who make decisions behind closed doors to have an ‘influence’. Social media has given everyone a voice; but some are more influential than others.
When we started planning this list back in the summer, we spent hours and hours discussing what merits influence. Is it a massive YouTube following? Is it setting trends in equipment design? Is it endless wealth, having a Major to your name, or running a TV company, or having a million-plus Instagram followers? It’s all of those things and more.
We also debated what our sphere of influence would encompass. Just social media? Just tour players? Just the UK? In the end, we opened it up to anyone, anywhere – this is a global list open to anyone whose decisions, designs, money or content affects the way you enjoy and consume the game.
Finally, we scored every person who made the final shortlist (more than 540 names in all) and split them according to their influence over YOUR game (governance, media, rules, equipment design) and THE game (players, tour bosses, rights holders).
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How we ranked the 100 most influential people in golf
Measuring individual influence in the golf industry isn’t easy. Sifting through hundreds of worthy candidates is even harder. This list is based on how these people influenced ‘your game’ and ‘the game’ over the last 12 months; other years will be different.
You will recognise many of the people – Bob Vokey, Jay Monaghan, Greg Norman (including an incredible exclusive interview!), Tiger Woods are all in there.. There are some you will not have heard of; and others who may not be household names, but play a crucial role in your enjoyment of the game. There are people from the world of equipment and course design, from social media, the tours, the governing bodies, tech firms and broadcast media.
We measured their influence across seven categories, which were then marked by a panel of golf industry experts:
Equipment design (max 10 marks) | Course architecture (max 10) | Instruction (max 10) | Inspiration (max 15)
Financial Influence (max 25 marks) | Voice (max 15) | Innovation (max 15)
A project like this requires vast golf knowledge and a pool of talented writers. A big thank you to Michael Catling, Keith Jackson, Rob Jerram, Chris Jones, Simon Daddow, Nick Harper, Rob McGarr, Chris Bertram, Duncan Lennard and Kevin Brown for their hours of work.