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They aren’t killing everything: Millennials are helping make golf great again

(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Millennials have been blamed for the decline of everything from fast-food to beer, but now they’re driving up interest in one sport: golf.

The popularity of golf amongst millennials is in part due to the trendy driving range TopGolf and the abundance of successful young golfers like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Dustin Johnson.

According the National Golf Foundation’s annual study, 36 percent of golfers are between the ages of 18 to 39. The number of individuals taking up golf for the first time rose 14 percent from 2015 to 2016, and soon this young age block will hold the largest market share in all of golf, experts say. Overall, the number of people who are “very interested” in taking up golf has doubled in the past five years.

Helping to shore up popularity is NBA all-star and MVP Steph Curry. A newcomer to the professional side of golf, Curry has found sponsorship for his new endeavor with Under Armour, whose golf category has grown 25 percent in just three years.

It’s speculated that Curry and other youthful faces on the PGA tour have helped golf reach record numbers of newcomers in 2016, with more than 2.5 million taking up the sport for the first time.

Where millennials differ from older golfers is their willingness to tough out a full 18 holes. Almost 70 percent of all golf rounds played in 2016 were by those over the age of 50.

TopGolf, a driving range built to entertain,  helps fill this void. It boasts 33 locations and serves food and alcohol while players compete and track their drives. The set up is similar to that of a bowling alley, eliminating the travel between holes.

Off-course participation is up more than 11 percent as four million millennials have only experienced golf outside of traditional play, at driving ranges or entertainment facilities like TopGolf.

While millennials are experiencing the game differently, they’re playing at record numbers. For once, older generations can smile upon millennials, knowing that their interest in the sport coupled with innovation is keeping the pastime alive.

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