We begin our countdown of the 100 Most Influential People in Golf 2022, a brand-new ranking of the men and women who have made the biggest difference in the game in the last year. These are the people we ranked 100th-76th
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 in this list is simply staggering.
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The 100 Most Influential People In Golf 2022: 100-76
100 DAVID SPENCER
Commissioner of the MENA Tour, based in the Middle East and North Africa
The MENA Tour was launched in 2011 and features a number of 54-hole tournaments. Sound familiar? Earlier this year, the Tour was thrust into the spotlight after its commissioner agreed a “strategic alliance” with LIV Golf, meaning Greg Norman’s men may yet earn World Ranking points from events co-sanctioned by the Tour.
99 NO LAYING UP
Global online golf behemoth
Friends Phil Landes, Chris Solomon, and brothers Todd and Neil Schuster launched NLU as a website in 2014, previewing tournaments and covering big golf stories. Then it exploded.
Today, they have close to a million followers across their social platforms and have produced almost 1,000 podcast episodes, listened to by hundreds of thousands of people, with guests including Tiger and Rory.
They’ve also signed major partnerships with Callaway and BMW, and launched a global merchandise line.
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98 SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER
Golf’s silent assassin who went from winless to World No.1 and then Major winner in record time
Losing the No.1 spot affects his ranking somewhat, but Scheffler still won four times and a Green Jacket in an incredible 57-day stretch. Those Tiger levels of domination proved unsustainable, but he was still crowned PGA Tour Player of the Year after pocketing a record $14 million in on-course earnings.
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97 DARIC ASHFORD
Newly-named President of Nike Golf
They might not make clubs anymore, but Nike’s golf apparel still sells in phenomenal numbers, as do their shoes. Ashford also has two of the most marketable players in the game on his books, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, plus plenty of other tour stars and hundreds of other influencers.
96 LUKE DONALD
Former World No.1 and the current European Ryder Cup captain
No one likes to be second choice, but Donald will lead Europe into battle against Team USA with a point to prove after replacing LIV defector Henrik Stenson this summer. His playing career is starting to fizzle out – he lost his PGA Tour card for this season – but over three days next September, he’ll carry the hopes of almost 50 nations on his shoulders. No pressure, then!
95 ZACH JOHNSON
Two-time Major champion and the current US Ryder Cup captain
Like his opposite number, Zach Johnson was revered for his consistency and sublime short-game skills during a stellar career which – unlike Donald – yielded two Major titles, the 2007 Masters and 2015 Open.
The 46-year-old will be responsible for Team USA’s defence of the Ryder Cup next year, but in post-LIV times, his selection plans have taken a huge hit.
94 MARK CROSSFIELD
A pioneer of online golf coaching
Crossfield was the YouTube coach, dominating subscription numbers and views. He continues to churn out course vlogs, golf instruction and honest equipment reviews for the 381,000 subscribers to his channel and loves to debate with his followers on social media.
He also co-hosts the Hack It Out Golf podcast with Arccos expert Lou Stagner, discussing golf’s hottest topics and helping to improve your game.
93 BOB ROTELLA
The godfather of golf psychology
Rotella is golf’s equivalent of a fixer, a confidence guru and advisor to many of the world’s greatest athletes. He is credited with helping his male and female clients to claim more than 75 Major titles while in his care.
Rory McIlroy has attributed his recent revival to Rotella’s methods, which are laid bare across dozens of self-help books. Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect remains one of the greatest of all time.
92 TONY FINAU
The 14th-best golfer in the world right now. But he represents much more than just a number
A black face in a sea of white men, Finau represents golf’s ongoing push for equality. Finau is Polynesian by birth and the highest-ranked black player at the time of writing. As such, he represents possibility and hope for the next generation of minority golfers, that they too can make it in a still all too white-dominated sport.
This year has seen the Ryder Cup star take his game to a new level, winning three times on the PGA Tour in seven starts to completely shake off the ‘nearly man’ reputation he’d gained after taking more than five years to add to his maiden win.
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91 PETER DAWSON
Chairman of the Official World Golf Ranking
Despite retiring from his role as Chief Executive of the R&A in 2015, Dawson is still relevant in shaping the future of the game. As chairman of the OWGR, he has already changed how the system is calculated to improve its relevancy.
Next in his in-tray – with the input of a seven-strong board of directors – is deciding whether to grant LIV Golf ranking points, which could have a big say in how many more players join the breakaway league.
90 DUDE PERFECT
An American sports and comedy group with more than 58 million subscribers on YouTube and 11.6 million followers on Instagram
Former college roommates Tyler Toney, Cory and Coby Cotton, Garrett Hilbert and Cody Jones are the stars of the second biggest sports channel on YouTube (behind WWE), combining humor, trick shots, challenges and world record attempts… they’ve even been into space!
In April, Dude Perfect were granted access to Augusta National to film an ‘All Sports Golf Battle’ video with Bryson DeChambeau. More than 12 million people have watched the group tackle Amen Corner using hockey sticks, American footballs, frisbees and more, as well as taking on the famous skip shot on 16, complete with a voiceover from legendary broadcaster Jim Nantz.
Their videos always gain huge views, with some even approaching half a billion!
89 JON RAHM
One of the finest, fieriest, and most outspoken golfers in the world
Rahm has firmly established himself among the game’s elite, having been a mainstay in the OWGR’s top 10 since 2017, and clearly feels he’s earned the right to an opinion. He’s been one of the highest-profile and staunchest supporters of golf’s two traditional tours – at a time when they need it most.
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88 SCOTTY CAMERON
The world’s best-known putter maker
Since 1993, more than 500 tour events and about a third of all Majors (including almost half of Tiger’s) have been won by a player using a Scotty Cameron putter. He continues to design putters using innovative methods, new materials, modern shapes and concepts.
87 BOB VOKEY
The legendary craftsman behind Titleist’s wedge brand
Still going strong in his 80s, Vokey has designed wedges for and been a short-game advisor to many of the world’s best players. The wedges that bear his name still make up close to 40 percent of all sand, lob, and approach wedges in play every week on tour.
86 DONALD TRUMP
45th President of the United States, a real estate billionaire who owns a number of A-list golf resorts
Trump’s global influence has waned since his removal from office, but his influence in golf remains strong. He owns a number of high-end resorts, including Trump Turnberry, Trump Doonbeg and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen, and LIV Golf staged events at two of his resorts this year.
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85 ALEXANDRA ARMAS
Former player turned CEO of the Ladies European Tour
Armas hasn’t had it easy as the leader of the LET. Two months into her reign, the pandemic hit and 13 tournaments were canceled. The Tour was in danger of going bust until she struck vital alliances with the LPGA and Golf Saudi, safeguarding the immediate future of the Tour.
Members are now benefitting from more big-money events, including the Aramco Series, while Armas’ growing influence has seen her named among the ‘Top Women in Sports’ by the Women’s Sports Institute.
84 SAL SYED
CEO and Co-founder of Arccos Golf
More than half a billion shots have now been tracked by Arccos’ grip tags, giving users a whole new AI-driven insight into their game. Their app has been credited with helping members cut their handicap by 5.78 shots in the first year, by allowing them to make better decisions on the course.
83 CHRIS RYAN
TG elite coach and rising star of online instruction
While YouTube has become bloated with instructional videos in recent years, Ryan’s channel stands out for his engaging delivery, his gift for demonstration, and his uncanny knack of addressing the very element that seems to be plaguing your game.
His tips have racked up more than 75 million views since he joined YouTube in 2011 and he has 600,000 subscribers across all digital platforms.
82 LYDIA KO
The erstwhile teenage phenom who made Tiger look like a slow starter, now back to her best after a couple of uncharacteristically quiet years
We had to double-check the fact that Lydia Ko is only 25, as it seems like she’s been a dominant force in women’s golf for an age.
It’s been almost eight years since the New Zealander became the youngest player of either gender to be crowned World No.1. She was the youngest to win a professional event (at 14), an LPGA Tour title (15), a Major (18), and two Majors (still 18).
She was listed among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World at just 17, inspired a generation of girls to take up the game, and continues to do so today.
BONUS CONTENT: Lydia Ko on her career and being a role model
81 CAMERON SMITH
Reigning Open Champion and LIV Golf’s biggest catch
LIV Golf detractors had pointed to the tour’s recruits coming from two camps: players in the twilight years of their careers or those who could be called also-rans. Cam Smith’s switch changed all that.
He was a player at the peak of his powers, poised to challenge for more Majors and top spot in the World Ranking. He is potentially giving it all up by joining golf’s big-money league. Greg Norman’s best bit of business yet.
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80 JORDAN SPIETH
Three-time Major winner and the most unpredictable golfer in the world
A marketer’s dream, Spieth has gone from golf’s golden boy to struggling artist to comeback kid – and all before the age of 30. It’s been a long road back but a perfect 5-0 record in the Presidents Cup has got us believing again. His partnership with Justin Thomas is the US equivalent of Seve and Ollie.
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79 MIKE CLAYTON
Former European Tour winner, now part of the Clayton, DeVries & Pont architectural firm
The Australian had a fine playing career but may have surpassed his achievements since retiring. He partnered with Tom Doak at Barnbougle Dunes and restored Victoria before joining CDP. He is now renovating The Addington, among others. A wonderful writer on architecture and a big presence on social media.
78 ALAN SHIPNUCK
Professional golf writer, author, and feather-ruffler
Shipnuck is one of the foremost writers in golf, having previously worked for Sports Illustrated and, more recently, Golf magazine. He’s since become a partner and editor at the Fire Pit Collective, producing golf stories, podcasts, and videos. But he’s perhaps best known for his books, including a warts-and-all biography of Phil Mickelson, featuring a now infamous ‘off-the-record’ telephone call between the two.
77 TOM FAZIO
A household name in the world of golf architecture – and an advisor to Augusta National since the late 1990s
After collaborating with his uncle George in the 1960s, Fazio forged his own path in the 1980s and has sculptured more than 200 courses, many of which feature in our Top 100 lists. His fingerprints can be found on Ireland’s Waterville and Adare Manor, as well as Shadow Creek and PGA Tour stop Quail Hollow.
76 PETE COWEN
Full-time tour coach shaping the swings and careers of some of the game’s top players, including Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood and Lee Westwood
The sheer depth, breadth and success of his pupils make Cowen a legendary name in coaching circles. Nine of his students are Major winners, while many more have gone on to forge successful tour careers, racking up more than 250 PGA Tour wins in the process.
Cowen commands the respect of the best through the clarity of his approach, his understanding of the tour pro psyche and his own, not-inconsiderable skills with a golf club.
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