Media’s Impact on Golf

By: Fred He, Account Supervisor at PRLab

October 22, 2018

This September, social media feeds have filled with the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup. The two most significant golf events of the year attracted millions of people worldwide. Golf has become an increasingly popular sport in the past century and media can credit itself for the substantial impact on this old sport.

You may never play golf or watch the tournaments, but you’ve heard the name Tiger Woods. Indeed, among all the golf players, Tiger Woods attracts most of the media’s attention in the 21st century.  He is a symbol of the game. When Tiger Woods was at his peak performance in the early 2000s, all the major championships recorded over 10 million viewership worldwide.

Social media contributed significantly to golf’s growing popularity. Since the PGA Tour launched its social media platform in 2007, the fans have continuously increased. The tour reached 7.42 million followers on all platforms in 2015. Meanwhile, the overall number who say they are at least somewhat interested in taking up golf is 40.6 million now, which is 15% more compared to 2015. Also, well over a third of that number (15.2 million) were millennials (18- to 34-year-olds), which made up the most significant single age group of non-golfers who expressed interest in playing golf.

Among all the social media platforms, Twitter is the most popular social media platform for golf events. The medium is able to send out messages in short time, and usually at every tournament, many players are playing at the same time. Many field reporters love using Twitter to give instant feed of golf events and because of this have built up a large following on the medium.

Before social media, professional players didn’t have any mediums to share their story and daily life with a large audience outside of members at their country clubs. Nowadays, golf players often engage with their audiences and upload golfing videos to gain more popularity and attention. Rickie Fowler, who has 5 million followers on all social media platforms, often shares photos and videos of him at junior golfing and charity events.

Media brought golf many sponsorships because of the potential business opportunities among its audiences. According to research conducted by the PGA Tour this year, golf fans are more likely to hold a management level position level and to have more investments and savings compared to other sports fans. When wealth management companies and banks want to publicize themselves, they often choose to sponsor PGA events or Tour players to increase their media exposure. The PGA received 1.6 billion dollars from sponsorship in 2013, and the number increases every year. Business magnates like Morgan Stanley, Coca-Cola, and United Airlines, etc. are all big sponsors for the PGA.

The viewership golf created is also important for the media and business, the Masters’ tournament, one of the four major championships in golf, attracted 20 million viewership worldwide in 1997. At the time, when social media wasn’t popular, golf was a gold mine for sponsorship and advertisement. Nike saw the opportunity and signed a sponsorship deal with Tiger in 1996, which lasted till today.

Because of media, golf continues to change and grow. More and more young people show interest in the sport as media reshapes golf to embrace a bright future.