2024 is upon us, and so, too, is another year of golf. In this article, we look at 6 golf trends likely to dominate the sport’s landscape over the next 12 months.
The golf ball rollback will dominate equipment chat in 2024, even though it won’t come into effect for another four years at least. Manufacturers will be already scheming to work out how to combat the new regulations and be assured you’ll hear the drip, drip, drip of information (and misinformation) from all sides of this contentious debate.
But there will be other developments too—there always are—and AI could well be at the front of it. We’ve already seen the Odyssey Ai-ONE putter range, and don’t be surprised to see AI’s influence continue in 2024.
By coincidence, the Odyssey Ai-ONE has a lovely navy blue finish, and we’ve got a feeling that this colour scheme might well be very popular this year. Again, don’t be surprised to see Callaway spring a move in driver design with a fixed-weight model in 2024, given it’s already flitted between moveable and fixed-weight designs of late. The Paradym has an adjustable weight at the rear, so a static weight set-up could well be around the corner.
From an apparel perspective, 2024 is going to be a huge year for ‘heat experts’ ZeroFit, which has taken staying warm to new levels in recent years. There’s a new ultimate baselayer, new knee-length ultimate socks, a new Heatrub Move AWT Baselayer in Dayglo, and new Move Leggings. There have been rumours of new gloves too. Whatever ZeroFit produces, we’re here for it. The brand has taken the traditional base layers of the noughties and made them look very low-tech.
2. The pro game
In Tour golf, two things will be on the agenda week in,
week out; Tiger Woods and LIV.
Tiger says he hopes to play once a month in 2024, and the
golf world will hold its breath to see how that pans out. His body is part genius
athlete, part robot these days, but no one moves the dial more in their chosen
sport than Tiger.
Every week will be a question of ‘is he playing?’, ‘he’s playing next week,’ or ‘when will he next play?’. Just watch.
One thing is for sure: the sight of him walking down the
1st fairway at Augusta National in April is one we all want to see.
LIV is a different story, however. It’s much more divisive in the golf world but no less newsworthy. Jon Rahm’s move to the Saudi Arabia-funded circuit is a game-changer, and you suspect a week won’t go by without more rumours of defections. How LIV Golf and the PGA Tour look midway through 2024 will be fascinating.
And don’t forget that 2024 is an Olympic year, so there will be chat about how that fits into the schedule. Somehow, Rory McIlroy’s allegiances will also be a key topic, whether he’s playing or not!
3. Post-Covid boom to continue?
The R&A released a report in 2023 showing adult golf participation had risen by 34% worldwide since 2016. That is a remarkable stat, and Britain’s own growth was part of those figures, with a double-digit rise in Scotland alone in 2022.
Another study showed club members played more golf in the first half of 2023 than in the whole of 2019. Green fee bookings in the UK and Ireland have also hovered around being 15% up year-on-year in the past three years.
Yes, the Covid pandemic helped get many people back to golf or into golf for the first time, but that trend has definitely continued. Will it stay firm in 2024? If the industry is sensible with prices, clubs are welcoming for beginners and existing golfers, and the weather plays ball, we’re here to say it does.
4. Cutting-edge technology
Remember the days when a few TopFlites on a rock-hard mat
constituted a driving range? They are long gone; making way for a tech drive in
golf that’s taking the game to a new level and making it more attractive to Gen-Z.
Take Toptracer, which merges traditional golf with virtual golf for extra fun. Camera stations with Toptracer Technology track your ball so you can calculate the distance, trajectory and height of shots. Coloured artificial targets act as your missions, and you can compete with friends online, too.
Golf simulators are also on a new level now and keep getting even more realistic. Golfzon, for example, specialises in indoor experiences designed to let you enjoy more than 200 courses from one simulator and compete in groups of up to six people, regardless of skill.
Night golf is another growing trend. A few floodlights dotted around the course started this trend, and now, LED technology makes it a truly dazzling experience. You can also do it on buggies that blast out tunes from surround sound speakers, too! Buggy luxury is coming and fast.
5. Green fees
Here are some numbers for you;
£500, £495, £418, £400, £360, £340, £340, £330, £325, £320.
Those are the top 10 green fees at UK courses in 2024. £4,000 to play 10 of the great courses in the land. A huge amount of money for anybody.
The average green fee rose 12.3% from £179 to £200 at one UK&I Top 100 course in 2023. In 2021, the average was £161. Now, however, the average rate for a top-25 course is the best part of £300.
If you want to play the big names, you need to cough up. The trend is only going one way, too—so the sooner you play Ardfin, Turnberry, Royal Birkdale, Kingsbarns, Trump Aberdeen, et al., the better!
6. Millennials getting hooked
Millennials are the generation everything and everyone in
the world wants to attract; they are the next big earners, after all.
Golf is no different, and the industry will certainly hope that the trend of them enjoying the game continues into 2024.
The Millennial Golf Industry Survey, published in 2021, focused on those born between 1981 and 1996 and found that the average number of rounds played annually by this age group had reached a new high, and the average spend per round had also increased by 28% over a five year period.
Golf also became ‘more important’ to 60% of millennial golfers, largely due to the impact of the Covid pandemic.
The next task? Attracting Generation Z—or those born after 1997—to this royal and ancient game.
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