The Rising Popularity of Golf in the USA: A Look at Trends, Impacts, and the 2024 Masters Tournament

Golf in the United States has experienced a remarkable evolution and surge in popularity over the last two decades, highlighted by recent developments and statistical insights

Participation in the golfing activity in the United States has exploded to levels never experienced in the last half-decade. The number of golfers recently reached an all-time high of 41.1 million, according to the National Golf Foundation, up from 32 million in 2016. Tiger Woods has been the main factor contributing to the increase in golfers and its appeal as a safe pastime during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, growth in the game has been robust among younger and more diverse populations, much influenced by the popularity of off-course entertainment locations like Topgolf and Drive Shack. These attractions have played a vital role in democratizing the sport, making it affordable and accessible to a greater audience.

Currently, nearly half of all golf participants are under the age of 34, a notable statistic given their proportion in the overall U.S. population. This demographic shift underscores the importance of continuing to adapt and innovate within the golf industry to sustain and expand its reach.

Economic and Social Contributions

Golf’s direct economic impact is $101.7 billion, larger than ever, and a strong contribution. This growth shall not only be in professional play, but it will also be extended to the local levels, where the golf courses have been major venues in raising charity funds, and the game raises an average amount of about $4.6 billion in a year.

The PGA TOUR itself has also modernized, adopting more technology and inventing broadcast ideas to enhance viewer interaction and broaden its base with newer fans. They have introduced features like the “Full Swing” documentary on Netflix and also new camera angles, bringing in outsiders who otherwise would not be as interested in the sport and its players.

The Challenges Ahead

While more people are playing golf, viewership has experienced a significant decline. Most of this is because of LIV golf, which has turned off many fans from the sport. This new golf league has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and thrown them in front of PGA golfers as an alternative. It has provided these players with the opportunity to make more money while playing less golf. The PGA Tour star power has suffered, with LIV recruiting names like Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, and most recently Jon Rahm. This has led to further fighting between PGA and LIV, particularly over money, thus further angering fans.

Rory McIlroy’s comments about the game needing to come together is one many players agree with. The PGA Tour is currently in negotiations with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) in hopes of finding a solution where the best players in the world can once again play together on a more regular basis rather than in just the four major championships.

Another challenge golf is facing is the rising costs, particularly in green fees. Many Americans have been battered by inflation across all industries, and golf has certainly been one of them. Course costs have doubled, and in some cases tripled, making it more difficult for the average golfer to play.

One way golf has tried to combat this has been by offering more memberships, which include a monthly fee with a reduced cost to play the course and additional incentives, including things like free range practice.

Tradition and Victory at Augusta: The Masters of 2024

The Masters Tournament, held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club, is much more than just a sport. The tournament, which took place on April 11–14, was essentially the same in that every aspect of the championship exuded the traditional golf aesthetics and the spirit of competition that exists today. The tough field, which featured top PGA and LIV Tour players and recent major event winners, made it stand out.

Scottie Scheffler, who has established himself as the clear number one player in the world, proved his dominance on the back nine on Sunday, running away with a four-shot victory over Sweden’s Ludvig Åberg. This was Scheffler’s second green jacket and third win this season.

Innovations and Excitement in the 2024 Tournament

Among such moments was the Par 3 contest—a fan-favorite tradition of the pre-tournament week—in which Rickie Fowler scored a very credible 22, five-under-par. They are, however, viewed as nothing more than a fun prologue to the “real” activity; they give an avenue for the players to display their acuteness in an informal environment and bring out their families to participate in the action.

Additionally, the first round of the tournament was marked by a delay due to inclement weather, adding an unexpected twist to the competition and testing the players’ adaptability. Fans were treated to bonus coverage on ESPN Friday morning of the completion of the round. This included getting to watch the final five holes of Tiger Woods’ round. Woods’ ability to make the cut led to increased ratings on Thursday and Friday compared to a year ago.

Engaging with Golf Beyond the Green

As the US Masters 2024 approached, the excitement was not only palpable on the greens of Augusta but also across various digital platforms. Enthusiasts and casual fans alike turned to popular golf podcasts, which dissected every possible tournament angle, from player strategies to predictions about who might don the green jacket. Betting on the outcome became a hot topic, with US Masters 2024 bets fueling spirited discussions online and offline. Scheffler entered as the lowest odds-on favorite since Tiger Woods and became the first No. 1 player to win the event since Dustin Johnson in 2020.

These platforms have become a crucial part of the golf experience, allowing fans to engage with the sport more deeply and naturally, enhancing their understanding and enjoyment of the game. This multimedia approach has helped in making golf accessible to a broader audience, further enriching its cultural footprint.

Economic and Cultural Impact

The Masters not only serves as a pinnacle of golf achievement but also significantly impacts the local and broader golf economy. With a large number of attendees and viewership, it drives substantial economic activity in Augusta and promotes the sport across various demographics, emphasizing golf’s broader cultural significance.


Golf in the USA today is not just a sport but a significant cultural and economic phenomenon that offers various benefits—from mental health relief and charitable contributions to fostering community and inclusivity. The ongoing popularity and economic impact of golf, exemplified by events like the 2024 Masters, reflect a sport that is continuously evolving and expanding its reach across American society.

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