We enter the top half of our 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 50th-26th.
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.
RELATED: The Best Golf Courses in the World
The 100 Most Influential People In Golf 2022: 50-26
50 GIL HANSE
A Doak disciple, Hanse’s own designs are lauded but he is almost as revered as a masterful restorer
Along with Coore-Crenshaw and Tom Doak, Hanse is the driver in the ‘minimalist’ philosophy and the creator of the Rio Olympic Course.
Castle Stuart, Les Bordes (New) and Streamsong (Black) feature among his standout designs, though he has also renovated numerous classics, from Pinehurst (No.4) to Narin & Portnoo to Fisher’s Island.
49 BRANDEL CHAMBLEE
Former PGA Tour star turned analyst for the Golf Channel.
Chamblee is far out in front as the most outspoken TV personality in golf. He comes from the Roy Keane school of punditry and has history of rubbing people up the wrong way, most notably Patrick Reed.
He’s just authored his second book: The Short Game: Lessons from Inside 100 Yards by the Best Golfers in History, though architectural buffs are more interested in his new design partnership with Agustin Piza, which is focused on pushing the creativity boundaries of multi-purpose golf. Their first project is set to debut in Mexico, featuring four quadrangles of six-hole loops known as the ‘Butterfly Effect’. It could be a game-changer.
48 TIM SCHANTZ
The President and CEO of Troon
Since succeeding founder Dana Garmany three years ago, Schantz has overseen a period of incredible growth, cementing Troon’s status as the largest third-party manager of golf clubs. They service more than 725 courses in 32 countries, up from 280 courses in April 2019.
The Troon Golf portfolio includes The Grove, Trump Turnberry and Centurion, which gives you an idea as to the quality of service they provide.
47 KLAUS ELDRUP-JORGENSEN
Co-founder and CEO of TrackMan
Teachers, fitters, designers and even the PGA Tour (where there’s now 40 at every event) rely on TrackMan’s ball-tracking data, which provides real-time insight on ball speed, launch, flight, and landing… and lets us see the trajectory on TV. Indeed, so good is it that more than 1,000 tour players have invested in TrackMan tech for their own personal use.
46 JON WATTERS
Co-President of Foresight Sports
The company that brought us the GC2 launch monitor have revolutionised club fitting under Watters’ leadership.
The little grey box, which uses cameras rather than radar to track a ball, is a common sight in fitting rooms and now at Toptracer driving ranges.
We use the GCQuad for all our golf club testing, as do dozens of pros and coaches on tour.
RELATED: How we test golf equipment
45 JONATHAN SMITH
Founder and Executive Director of the GEO Foundation for Sustainable Golf
Golf is slowly moving towards a greener future – and Smith and his team have been leading the charge to inspire, educate, and reward sustainability. They hosted the first-ever Sustainable Golf Week in October and continue to report year-on-year growth with golf facilities becoming GEO certified in recognition of their environmental and social responsibility.
Smith is currently collaborating with several big-name partners, including the R&A, LPGA and around 50 federations and associations across 25 countries, to accelerate change in the industry.
He also directly advises some of golf’s largest events, including The Open, Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and Olympics.
44 GOOD GOOD
America’s biggest golf YouTube channel
Only the second golf YouTube channel to reach one million subscribers (after Rick Shiels), Good Good was founded by friends Garrett Clark, Matt Scharff, Stephen Castaneda, Micah ‘Tig’ Morris, and Tom ‘Bubby’ Broders and launched in July 2020.
Each a scratch or single figure golfer, Good Good’s videos have production qualities to match thanks to the teams videographers and editors Colin Ross and Max Putnam. The group are filmed travelling the globe, playing in Pro-ams, trying to break world records and taking on matches and challenges.
They’ve welcomed Bryson DeChambeau, long-drive star Kyle Berkshire among others, and spent time in the UK this summer to film loads of content, including a huge collaboration with Shiels.
The guys have an insightful podcast and full range of merch, along with 750,000 subscribers across their other social media platforms… and that’s before we even start on their individual followings. We’re also expecting some huge news from them in 2023, so watch this space.
If you only watch one of their videos, join 3.5 million others by taking in ‘The Greatest Golf Shot in YouTube History’.
43 TOM DOAK
The world’s best-known and most charismatic course designer
The man behind World Top 100 fixtures Pacific Dunes at Bandon Dunes, Ballyneal, Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Kidnappers and the brand-new Rosapenna (St Patrick’s), Doak is now grooming the next generation of architects, with Gil Hanse and Mike DeVries among his pupils.
The American’s pithy Confidential Guide to Golf Courses book will be lauded for centuries.
42 JUSTIN THOMAS
Two-time US PGA Champion and one of the most vocal defenders of the PGA Tour
Unfairly cast as a supporting actor behind Rory and Tiger, JT has stepped back into the spotlight his year, becoming the sixth man since World War II to win 15 times, including two Majors, before turning 30.
He has almost certainly replaced Patrick Reed as Captain America, winning 12 times and losing only four from 19 matches across two Ryder Cups and two Presidents Cups.
His swagger and joggers-and-hoodie combo make him one of the most popular players among the younger generation. He’s also not immune to the occasional shank or top, which makes him relatable to everyone else.
41 BRYSON DECHAMBEAU
A Major-winning, long-driving, equipment-revolutionising, opinion-dividing LIV Golf star
The Mad Scientist of Golf has never been afraid to do things his own way. From one-length clubs and one-plane swings, to gaining 40lbs in a quest for increased swing speed, it’s Bryson’s world and we’re all just trying to understand it.
Love or loathe him, LIV Golf shelled out more than $125 million for Bryson’s signature because his influence stretches far beyond the course. Not content with being one of the world’s best players, the 29-year-old finished second in this year’s World Long Drive Championship and is chronicling his life on YouTube to 324,000 subscribers.
The 2020 US Open champion is now looking to grow the game at home in Dallas and in California, with plans for
a multi-sports complex and the development of junior golf tours through his own foundation.
40 BEN CRENSHAW
Two-time Masters champion, Ryder Cup-winning captain and now one-half of the Coore-Crenshaw design firm
Crenshaw had a stellar legacy even before he partnered with Bill Coore to create one of the most revered course design firms in the world.
He will always be remembered for his Masters wins but his part in the trend towards less penal, more strategic courses might be his most enduring legacy.
RELATED: Crenshaw’s career reflections
39 DAVID RICKMAN
Executive Director – Governance and Chief of Staff – at the R&A
Rickman affects your game in a big way – perhaps more so than anyone on this list. Over the last 25 years, he has been responsible for the Rules of Golf, Amateur Status, Equipment Standards and Handicapping in conjunction with the USGA.
He’s also the chief referee at the men’s and Women’s Open – so a man players like to keep on side.
38 STEVE PELISEK
President of Titleist golf clubs
Pelisek joined Acushnet in 1993 and was made President of Titleist’s clubs in early 2016. When much of the industry has gone to annual product cycles, he’s stuck behind a tried and trusted launch formula; Titleist fans know when it’s coming, they know it will be better than what came before, and they know it will be used by lots of tour players and accomplished amateurs.
37 JOE ASSELL
President, CEO and Co-founder of GOLFTEC
Over the past 27 years, Assell has built GOLFTEC into a global brand that’s shaped instruction and club fitting at 240+ centres in six countries.
They have just acquired SkyTrak and Assell is hopeful of expanding the GOLFTEC business to 350 locations in the US, as well as 400 international sites in the future.
36 MARTY JERTSON
Vice President for Fitting & Performance at Ping
If you’ve played any new Ping golf club over the last 15 years, it’s likely Jertson played a part in its design. An engineer at heart, he is now responsible for Ping’s ‘fitting science’.
He’s also a hell of a player, appearing in his sixth Major in 2020.
35 ANNIKA SORENSTAM
President of the International Golf Federation (IGF) and the greatest female player of her generation
Her on-course achievements are legendary (10 Majors, 89 wins worldwide) but the Swede is playing an even greater role as an ambassador, lending her name to tournaments and programmes and donating almost $8 million to junior golf through her foundation. She even committed $50,000 to support Symetra Tour players during the pandemic.
This year she hosted the Scandinavian Mixed for a second time alongside Henrik Stenson, and next November she’ll be getting her own LPGA event; The Annika Driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.
34 PAIGE SPIRANAC
Golf star turned online coach, model and social media sensation
Unless your weekly golf fix doesn’t include scouring social media for tips and tricks, there’s a very good chance you’ve stumbled across Paige Spiranac before. She is, in many ways, exceptionally hard to miss. With 3.7 million followers on Instagram and more than 11 million across her social media channels, she operates in a different world to most professional golfers.
It’s easy to judge and typecast her as ‘just another influencer’, but Spiranac is bold, feisty and the most prominent woman in golf. She has built an enviable network of partners and followers because she plays the social media game better than most.
It helps that she was named the ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ by Maxim magazine, though the 29-year-old has succeeded where others have failed because of her relatability, work ethic and willingness to disrupt golf’s status quo. She likes to joke that “men like golf and boobs” in response to being listed as the most followed golfer on Instagram, but there remains a seriousness which underpins a lot of what she puts out.
This year she has used her Playing a Round with Paige Renee podcast to express herself, speaking out against body shaming, outdated dress codes and sexism in the sport.
Now she is about to launch a new subscription platform which aims to break down one of golf’s biggest barriers to entry. It’s time we all put some respect against her name.
BONUS CONTENT: We talk to Paige Spiranac!
33 THOMAS PAGEL
Chief Governance Officer for the USGA
Before LIV Golf was even a thing, the biggest headache for the sport’s authorities was the long-running debate on technology.
Amid continued calls for some restriction on the huge distances achieved by modern professionals, Pagel is a key player as he and the R&A debate the findings of various distance-related investigations.
He also oversees the World Handicap System in the States.
32 ROBERT MAXFIELD
Chief Executive of the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA)
One of the busiest men in golf, serving 8,000+ members and presiding over almost 1,000 golf events annually.
Together with his team, he’s won praise for increasing prize funds by 30% this year and for introducing an unrivalled PGA training programme with three routes to qualifications. It has now never been easier to get a job in the industry.
31 GARY PLAYER
A nine-time Major champion and ultra-fit octogenarian
Despite being into his 87th year, the Black Knight remains one of the game’s biggest influencers, mainly on account of his off-course endeavours.
He’s authored almost 40 books on the game and is always happy to voice his opinion, but it’s his course design arm, Gary Player Design, that will leave the biggest mark long after he’s departed.
30 ME AND MY GOLF
A pair of PGA pros – Piers Ward and Andy Proudman – who have created a global instruction business based on their YouTube teaching videos (202 million views and counting)
There are hundreds of golf coaches on YouTube. But Andy and Piers have taken their teaching to the next level, developing coaching plans, subscription-based lessons, a range of training aids and sponsorship deals with the likes of TaylorMade and Audi.
RELATED: Me and My Golf’s best-ever tips
They also coach PGA Tour star Aaron Rai and have their own podcast, featuring more than 125 episodes with some big-name guests.
BONUS CONTENT: Me And My Golf Interview
29 BOB PARSONS
Billionaire Founder of Parsons Xtreme Golf (PXG), an equipment brand pushing boundaries
It’s hard not to like PXG’s ethos of trying to make the world’s best golf equipment, with no cost or time restraints. And they back themselves with a no-questions-asked, 60-day, 100 percent money-back guarantee, which is impressive.
They’re also the only brand to describe their clubs as “the duck’s nuts”.
RELATED: How PXG was created
28 MARY LOU BOHN
President of Titleist Golf Balls – and the highest-ranked female on our list
The Pro V1 is the most successful equipment franchise in the history of the game, and one of the most lucrative. Acushnet’s net sales topped $2 billion in 2021, and balls accounted for the majority of that.
Their latest stats show that 69% of pros play a Titleist golf ball on the PGA Tour, which is some endorsement for Bohn.
27 KEITH PELLEY
Canadian sports executive and CEO of the DP World Tour for the last seven years
Pelley had plenty of early wins, bringing back the British Masters and introducing the Rolex Series, but he has found it tough going since the pandemic hit. This year he’s had to deal with the threat of LIV Golf, impending court cases, and regular rumours that the Tour’s finances are in peril.
An extension to their ‘strategic alliance’ with the PGA Tour until 2035 has offered some security, but the long-term repercussions may be felt as early as next year when the top 10 players in the Race to Dubai earn a PGA Tour card for the following season. It’s very hard to see how the DP World Tour can stay relevant if that happens year after year.
26 YASIR AL-RUMAYYAN
Governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and one of the most powerful men in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Football fans may recognise him as the Chairman of Newcastle United, but his Excellency is obsessed with golf and a major player in its rapid growth in the Middle East as part of Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s social and economic reform project.
As a trusted member of the Crown Prince’s inner circle, Al-Rumayyan’s influence is far-reaching. He is the current Chairman of LIV Golf, a role he has performed to great effect at Aramco, Golf Saudi, the Saudi Golf Federation and the Arab Golf Federation.
He also fronts the Saudi-backed PIF – valued at roughly $620 billion – which is financing LIV Golf and the Asian Tour. You will have your own opinion about whether it is helping or hurting the game, but without Al Rumayyan’s support and Aramco’s investment in the women’s game with the Aramco Team Series, it is unlikely we would still have the Ladies European Tour.
His greatest contribution to our sport may be yet to come, however.
He remains committed to opening at least 16 new courses in Saudi Arabia and growing the number of female golfers to 100,000 by 2030. Green-lighting a Ladies First Club and doling out 1,000 complimentary golf memberships to women has been an encouraging start.