Golf, one of the oldest sports, is intensively shaping its future today, evolving, and adapting to the new challenges. Golf, a popular, international, and altering game, develops with astonishing speed and pace in all aspects, including geography, business, technology, marketing of the sport with socio-gender aspect, leaving to the history hundreds of accomplished and successful names in the fascinating world of golf with a new Olympic status.
Taking into account a wide spread of golf all over the world, one can state that it has become a global sport game. Getting its origin from Scotland, golf confidently travels through the British Isles, the USA, Australia, and across the globe in the new directions reaching the new destinations. Only 10 years ago, there were over 30 thousand golf courses located in 119 countries all over the world with 58 million golfers. Nowadays, 80 million golfers play their game on 40 000 courses around the globe in more than 200 countries. Currently more than 2 400 of them are designed in Japan, mainly in the rural territory (“Golf’s 2020 vision”). Nowadays, 50% of the total global golf courses belongs to the USA. In general the USA, UK, Japan, Canada, and Australia account for 76% of the global golf courses. Though golf is a bit giving up its popularity in the USA, it is moving to the East. These years golf occupies new territories and countries, especially those in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Paul Casey proposes very neat remark about the golf expansion in geography:
“I can see the Middle East playing an increasingly important role in the development of golf and I think there will soon be more winners coming from China and the Far East. Within 10 years, I predict that the top 10 in the world will be made up of an equal split of Asian, European and US players.” (“Golf’s 2020 vision” 34)
As it is mentioned in the HSBC report “Golf’s 2020 Vision”, “Historically, golf has been associated with countries in the richer world, in particular the US and the UK. As courses develop it will increasingly become more international, with more world-class competition golf being played in more countries”. (“Golf’s 2020 vision” 47)
Golf is also supposed to be a good socially appropriate business. This game is intricately connected with tourism. Such countries as the United Arab Emirates, Cuba, and Vietnam develop courses as a part of national tourism strategies. According to HSBC findings, ”Golf events are said to be worth close to $2 billion a year, and the golf tourism market something more than $1 billion” (“Golf’s 2020 vision” 9). Richard Haass points out that “development of golf courses in a country is an indicator of prosperity and stability” (“Golf’s 2020 vision” 41).
The golf is becoming more unisex. The influx of women players causes the following statistic data: approximately 25% of all the golfers all over the world are women. The bright example is Annika Sorenstam, who won 89 tournaments worldwide, and is the winner of 10 major championships.
Participation of children in golf is constantly increasing. HSBC predicts that golf “will be both younger and less male” (“Golf’s 2020 vision” 4). The game of professionals attracts young players more frequently. Nowadays, a boom of young people playing golf is experienced in China and India. Moreover, the idea of generating a platform for golf as a family game quite realistically fills the air.
Alteration has always been a part of the golf game. At the beginning, the golf course had 11 holes, played out and back to form a 22-hole round. In the second half of 18th century, the first four holes were transformed to two for the enhancement of the links; thus, diminishing the course to 18 holes. Over time, as the importance of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club grew, 18 holes became the standard for a round.
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Global urbanization and technological sophistication find their reflection in golf, making it adapt to such challenges. Taking into account the shortage of space in the cities and constant time pressure, golf starts moving in direction to the shorter and faster format. That is why golf moves beyond the eighteen-hole to six and nine hole format and launches new shorter forms of the game. What is more, new technological advances are touching clubs in order to propose professionals the new opportunities in hitting the ball.
The popularity of professional golf switched on many bright stars in this sport domain. Golf made them famous and rich. In their turn, talented golfers one by one brought popularity to golf.
The top ten of the most influential golfers across the world starts with an American Byron Nelson (1912 – 2006), who won 52 times, including five major championships. “He was a two-time winner of both the Masters and the PGA Championship, and only the absence of an Open Championship kept him from completing the career grand slam” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 1). He deserved a namesake tournament, The Nelson Championship, which is supposed to be the most important event on the PGA calendar.
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Due to Nelson’s mentorship Tom Watson became one of the leading golfers in the world in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He won eight majors, “including five Open Championships, and coming up just short of the career grand slam, having never finished higher than second in the PGA Championship” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 1). The next golfer worth to be mentioned is Arnold Palmer, who won seven majors, including four Masters titles.
Bobby Jones should also be mentioned in this list full of glory. This golfer never turned pro and “was insanely successful, bringing home four US Opens and three Open Championships in a seven-year span. He was also a five-time US Amateur champion and even won the British Amateur in 1930. And then, at the age of 28, he gave up competitive golf” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 1). Sam Snead is one of the greatest golfers, who “won the Masters three times, the PGA Championship three times, and took home one US Open title and got 82 PGA victories” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 1). Gary Player is almost a legendary personality and the most successful non-American player in the history of golf.
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“Player finished his career with nine major victories, including three Masters titles and three Open Championships. He is also the only non-American to have ever completed the career grand slam, and has racked up 165 victories on six continents over the past six decades. Player has also designed more than 300 courses and written several books.” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 2)
Worth mentioning is Walter Hagen, who became a national hero in the USA, because he was “the first American to ever bring home a British Open Championship, and he would go on to win four Open titles in all. After turning pro at the age of 20,Hagen came up just short of winning a career grand slam, with only a Masters title missing from his resume” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 2). The third place in the top ten goes to Ben Hogan, who is “often thought of as having the most perfect golf swing in the history of the sport and became the greatest striker of a golf ball in this sport” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 1).
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The second place in a list is given to the World No. 1 Tiger Woods, the most successful golf-player of all times. He was the youngest to become the Career Grand Slam. Tiger Woods is the only golfer, who has won all four professional major championships in a row, completing the feat in the 2000–2001 seasons. Among his achievements are the following: 77 PGA Tour wins, 39 European Tour wins, 2 Japan Golf Tour wins, 1 Asian Tour win, 1 PGA Tour of Australasia win, 15 other professional wins, and 21 amateur wins.
TopTenz gives the first position to Jack Nicklaus, the Golden Bear in golf.
“Nicklaus is second on the all-time wins list, having racked up 73 victories in his career, including a staggering 18 major championships. He’s won the Masters six times, with his first and last victories coming an incredible 23 years apart, and has completed the career grand slam four freaking times.” (“Top 10 Greatest Golfers” 1)
Golf brought professional not only fame, but wealth. According to Forbes magazine, the best professionals are the richest golfers: Tiger Woods ($58 – 75 million), Australian golfer Adam Scott, South African golfer Ernie Els ($75 million), Korean American golfer Kevin Na ($10 million), American golfer and former World No. 1, David Duval ($19,5 million), Phil Mickelson ($40 million), New Zealander Steve Williams ($20 million), Scottish golfer Martin Laird (£6 million), Mexican American golfer Lee Trevino ($40 million), Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy (£7 million), English golfer Sir Nicholas Alexander Faldo (£34 million), etc. (Richest golfers”).
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In October 2009, golf gained a new Olympic status. The International Olympic Committee proclaimed their decision to include golf in the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games. Such idea is being realized with an intention to popularize and broaden the game throughout the world and to save a business in decline. The New Olympic status of golf has significant meaning to its development, especially improvement of its positions in the USA, not only in the East.
To sum the report up, golf, one of the oldest kinds of sport, has to accept all the challenges of the modern life. This sport game is under the influence of the recent trends pertaining to geographical and economical shifts, technological advances, increasing feminization, and urbanization. All these changes show golf new directions in the development, add to its success, realize the expectations of its fans, and give birth to the new Grand Slams with astonishing results.