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, continues. These are the people we ranked 75th-51st.
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: 75-51
75 GUY KINNINGS
Deputy CEO of the DP World Tour and Director of Ryder Cup Europe
A long-time manager of Colin Montgomerie, Kinnings became one of the most prominent agents at IMG, rising to the rank of Head of Golf. His reputation alerted Keith Pelley, who installed Kinnings as his right-hand man and tasked him with overseeing all operations relating to the Ryder Cup.
He has had a tricky start to say the least. A record defeat at Whistling Straits and an enforced change of captain this year were unfortunate, yet he is still considered to be the natural successor to Pelley.
74 CHRIS LINDNER
President of FootJoy
FootJoy have been the No.1 shoe on the PGA Tour since 1945, and there isn’t a golf course on the planet that hasn’t been walked upon by a pair. Along with its apparel and gloves, FJ now contribute $600 million to Acushnet’s annual sales. Among Lindner’s many contributions include signing Justin Thomas and Jessica Korda as brand ambassadors at the start of the year.
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73 GOLF WITH AIMEE
Aimee Cho, a tour player turned instructor with 440,000+ YouTube subscribers
A huge hit in Asia, Aimee Cho’s YouTube channel is among the world’s most popular thanks to its simple and enjoyable content, including tips and lessons with celebrities.
She also has her own website, MPswing.com, where you can sign up to video coaching courses and book one-to-one sessions.
72 JIN YOUNG KO
Two-time Major winner and serial record breaker
Without question the biggest star in Asian golf right now. Victory at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March delivered Ko’s sixth title in 10 starts and saw her set an LPGA record for the most consecutive rounds in the 60s (16).
At one point she was on a run of hitting 66 greens in regulation in a row, another record on the PGA and LPGA Tours. Only a niggling injury stopped her from holding onto top spot in the World Rankings for the whole of this year. She represents the vast potential of the next generation of golfers in South Korea.
71 GEORGE GANKAS
One of the world’s most watched and quoted coaches
Gankas is the world’s most revolutionary golf instructor. Famed for arguing against traditional methods and his ability to add speed to anyone’s game, the 52-year-old coaches Matt Wolff, who possesses one of the most unusual but effective swings in golf. He’s even given a lesson to the great Butch Harmon. The American commands up to $1,000 for lessons and runs a fascinating online teaching programme.
70 JAMES LEDFORD
President of Golf Pride, the No.1 grip on tour
Every week, around 80 percent of tour pros use Golf Pride grips without being paid a penny; and their dominance is at a similar level in clubs all over the world.
Ledford leads a team of researchers and innovators in Pinehurst, North Carolina, where they’ve just opened a new retail lab in their Global Innovation Centre, giving club golfers a tour-like, inside-the-ropes fitting experience for the first time.
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69 CHO MINN THANT
Commissioner and CEO of the Asian Tour
A 15-year veteran across a number of roles for the Asian Tour, Thant’s tenure as CEO has been thrust into the limelight after he linked up with LIV Golf boss Greg Norman. The partnership with the Saudi-backed investment fund is worth more than $300 million to the Asian Tour over the next decade and includes the promise of a new, 10-tournament International Series each year.
68 MARTIN EBERT
One half of the Mackenzie & Ebert firm, working on eight of the 10 Open venues
Martin Ebert is the R&A’s go-to man. He works on Lytham, St George’s, Troon, Hoylake, Birkdale and Carnoustie before they host The Open, with bigger projects at Portrush (two new holes), and the complete overhaul of the Ailsa course at Turnberry.
BONUS CONTENT: Ebert on how he revamps Open courses
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67 CLAUDE HARMON III
Son of Butch, grandson of Claude, but now making his own name as an innovative and sought-after tour coach and commentator
A self-confessed technophile, Harmon III is well-positioned to align a data-led coaching philosophy with the old-school approach of his distinguished relatives.
He stepped out of his dad’s shadow in 2017 by guiding Brooks Koepka to the 2017 US Open and has gone on to coach the likes of Dustin Johnson, Si-Woo Kim and Adam Scott. His podcast series and TV commentary stints have enhanced his reputation.
66 DAVID PILLSBURY
CEO of Invited (formerly ClubCorp), the largest owner and operator of private clubs in the US
A major player in the American golf scene, Invited own and operate 161 golf and country clubs, serving 430,000 members across 30 states and two countries. Pillsbury is also in charge of seven BigShots Golf locations, Invited’s answer to TopGolf, which is set to grow to 20 ranges by 2024.
65 PHIL KENYON
Britain’s most sought-after putting coach
A modern-day legend in his field, Kenyon is the man to go to for all things putting, with a star-studded client list featuring Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa and Justin Rose, among others.
He has an online academy, as well as a range of Visio Putting training aids which are used by several tour stars. He is also the Director of a high-tech putting school bearing the name of his mentor, Harold Swash, at Formby Hall Golf Resort.
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64 DUSTIN JOHNSON
Two-time Major champion, now plying his trade on the controversial LIV Golf tour
The former World No.1’s career seemed to be petering out, but he’s been revived after defecting to LIV. DJ has won $35,637,767 in five months since making the switch, not to mention a reported $100 million signing bonus. He’s been the dominant force on the new tour and the biggest case for the OWGR to include LIV players.
63 PETER FINCH
Golf pro turned content creator with 510,000+ subscribers on YouTube
Almost a decade on from starting his YouTube channel with a host of instructional videos from Trafford Golf Centre, the Manchester-based PGA pro is now an internationally recognised golf content creator whose videos have been watched for more than 2.5 million hours in 2022.
The 36-year-old’s Finch Golf Media network has grown by 40% annually across all platforms since 2020 and he has more than one million followers across all social platforms
Alongside his instruction, equipment, and challenge videos, Finch has filmed with players including Billy Horschel, Rafa Cabrera Bello, and Luke Donald. His success has led to partnerships with a host of brands, including BMW, and saw him co-host ‘Live at the Range’ for the R&A and Sky Sports at The 150th Open.
62 NELLY KORDA
Women’s World No.1, Major champion and Olympic gold medallist
Still only 24, Nelly has overtaken Lexi Thompson as the face of women’s golf in America. She hasn’t reached the heights of last season when she won four times, including the Women’s PGA Championship, but she’s still pocketed $5.9 million this year, making her the ninth highest-paid female athlete, according to Forbes.
She is also part of one of the greatest athletic families: sister Jessica is a multiple LPGA winner, while her parents, Petr and Regina, were pro tennis stars, as is her brother Sebastian.
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61 STEVE OTTO
Ex NASA employee, now Chief Technology Officer at the R&A
Otto is golf’s very own rocket scientist and an unsung star of the pandemic. He kept us all entertained when The Open was cancelled in 2020, using a combination of data and archived footage to create a virtual replacement, known as The Open For The Ages, that included golfing greats from the past 50 years.
More recently he’s played a major role in improving fan engagement at R&A Championships, as well as the creation of the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
However, his greatest influence can be linked to the Distance Insights project. He currently heads up the R&A’s equipment standards department at a new testing centre at Kingsbarns Links, where they are using robots, cannons and even missile tracking technology to test and analyse thousands of balls and clubs every year.
His research is likely to have a big say on the proposed changes to the equipment rules.
60 HIDEKI MATSUYAMA
The man LIV Golf want above almost all others, a key piece in their global puzzle.
The Japanese star spent the summer just passed surrounded by rumours that he would jump ship to join LIV Golf’s gravy train. A suggested $400 million sign-on may not be accurate but the number of noughts reflects his strategic importance to LIV.
Sign Japan’s highest profile star and LIV would truly tap into a very lucrative Far Eastern market, another step on the road to (insert your own evil laugh here) global domination. The 2021 Masters champion didn’t sign, and eventually moved to pledge his allegiance to the PGA Tour, but he also didn’t close the door completely…
“The players who left (for LIV) did so because they thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. “I can’t say anything about them. But I am playing on the PGA Tour and I want to continue doing my best.”
59 J.P. MCMANUS
An introverted Irish bookmaker turned billionaire businessman who has the game’s biggest stars on speed dial
Already the owner of Sandy Lane in the Bahamas, McManus’ golfing influence has grown in tandem with his annual pro-am. It’s become an eve of The Open Championship tradition, packed full of big-name PGA Tour stars – including Tiger. When J.P. calls, the stars align. That the modern-day King Midas also brought the 2027 Ryder Cup to Adare Manor was no great surprise.
58 MATT FITZPATRICK
Reigning US Open champion and poster boy of British Golf
An inspiration for golfers who are short and slight in stature. Fitzpatrick has gained 4mph in clubhead speed and added 10 yards in distance off the tee this year thanks to a speed training system called The Stack. His obsession with stat tracking convinced him to chip cack-handed from 30 yards and in for the first time this season, gaining 0.4 strokes around the green compared to 2021 on the PGA Tour. He’s reminded everyone that the outcome is far more important than how it looks.
57 SEAN TOULON
SVP at Callaway, GM at Odyssey, and Founder of Toulon Design
A golf industry veteran who spent 15 years at TaylorMade (where he brought us the first adjustable driver), Toulon came out of retirement to head up the world’s largest putter company, where he’s brought us ground-breaking innovations including Triple Track alignment and Stroke Lab shafts.
56 MOLLIE MARCOUX SAMAAN
Commissioner of the LPGA
Replacing Mike Whan as head of the LPGA was never going to be an easy task, but Marcoux Samaan got her tenure off to a popular start – strengthening relationships with the Ladies European Tour while also securing further investment from Golf Saudi, backers of the Aramco Series. That partnership has attracted plenty of headlines for the LPGA and Marcoux Samaan, who admitted in the summer that she would consider a deal with Greg Norman and the controversial LIV Golf.
“It’s my responsibility to evaluate every opportunity”, she said. “Women in golf have always struggled to get anywhere close to matching the earning power of their male counterparts, so a deal with LIV would make financial sense and create long-term security.” But at what cost? That’s for Marcoux Samaan to decide…
55 MARK STEINBERG
The most powerful agent on the planet.
You could argue that Tiger Woods doesn’t need an agent, but in Steinberg he has a man cut from a similar cloth. Possessing the same cold-eyed characteristics as his star client, Steinberg made his name at IMG, notably on the back of signing Annika Sorenstam before she landed the first of 10 Majors.
He’s now one of four partners at Excel Sports Management.
54 RAJ SUBRAMANIAM
CEO of FedEx, sponsor of the PGA Tour
With the PGA Tour in crisis as LIV lures its top players, the FedEx millions signed off by new boss Subramaniam have never been more important. The FedEx Cup, with its $75 million end-of-season playoffs pot, remains one of the biggest sponsorship deals in golf and was extended for 10 years in 2017 to continue one of the longest-running endorsement partnerships in sports.
53 MIKE KEISER
The game’s pre-eminent developer who fell in love with GB&I links and wanted to recreate them in the US
Keiser started with Dunes Club but Bandon Dunes’ success led to Barnbougle Dunes, Sand Valley, Cabot in Canada and, imminently, Cabot St Lucia.
His creations make up a good chunk of our World Top 100 list. He’s bucked the trend by building courses on remote sites that encourage walking over buggies and aren’t overlooked by properties.
52 BILL COORE
The driving force behind the C-C partnership, doing much of the work on site
Coore is the quiet man of architecture but does his talking on the ground. It’s no exaggeration to say that giving your land to Coore is virtually guaranteeing a compelling result.
He began his design career in 1972 with Pete Dye before the spotlight fell on him through the partnership with Ben Crenshaw.
51 DANNY MAUDE
One of the world’s most-watched online golf coaches, with more than 850,000 YouTube subscribers
Maude doesn’t get the attention that some other YouTubers receive, perhaps because he doesn’t produce challenges or course vlogs – but his content is of the highest quality and will do wonders for your game.
He’s built a reputation for providing simple, easy-to-implement golf advice and has amassed a following of more than one million golfers around the world thanks to his methods, which he says can improve any golfer, no matter their age, ability or time constraints.