Golf’s burning questions for 2022

By Jim Nugent

1. The golf participation surge: Can it continue?

Who knew that a pandemic was good for the golf industry? But it proved to be so, with participation surging in 2020 around the world, and continuing into 2021 as golf became a safe recreational haven. The new year will tell us how well the game is retaining those who came to the sport as newbies and lapsed returnees. The key comparison will be rounds played in 2022 vs. 2019, the last “normal” year before COVID-19 struck.

2. When will the golf equipment supply chain get fixed?

Golf equipment manufacturers had a banner year in 2021, with Callaway Golf, for example, posting an 80% rise in revenue in the third quarter compared to the same period in 2020. Still, the results could have been better. COVID-related supply chain breakdowns resulted in a scarcity of components for clubs and raw materials for golf balls. How quickly the supply chain is stood up will go a long way toward determining what kind of year the equipment sector will have.

3. Will the war between the PGA Tour and Golf Saudi become cold or hot?

Golf Saudi’s ambitions in the men’s professional game, housed within the Greg Norman-led LIV Investments, are not small. And these ambitions are running headlong into conflict with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour. The Saudis bring money, vision, and patience to the game. Will conflict be resolved in a reasonably amicable fashion, or is it headed toward a legal battle? Will any brand-name PGA Tour players sign on with Norman’s enterprise? As of now, Golf Saudi’s original April start date appears to be slipping away as it works to line up players, courses and media partners.

4. What will Mike Whan do in Year 1 at the USGA?

New CEO Mike Whan begins his first full calendar year at the helm of the USGA. He will soon disclose his agenda for the next five to seven years, and it is sure to get people talking. High on the list will be distance regulation; how will he reconcile perceived distance-related harm to the game with regulatory-resistant equipment makers? Whan’s business ambitions got off to a strong start this month with announcement of presenting sponsor ProMedica for the USGA-run U.S. Women’s Open and a nearly doubling of the event’s purse to $10 million.

Jessica (left) and Nelly Korda are big names in LPGA circles. Will they gain exposure and popularity this year?getty images

5. Ditto Mollie Marcoux Samaan at the LPGA?

Whan’s successor at the LPGA, Mollie Marcoux Samaan, begins her first full year with huge golf spikes to fill. However, she also begins the year with more purse money in play and plenty of upcoming potential American stars, including sisters Nelly and Jessica Korda. Her challenge: Can she persuade American TV networks to dedicate more airtime to the women’s game?

6.  How will the game counter attacks on public golf?

A piece of legislation in California would provide $50 million in developer subsidies to redevelop California’s municipal golf courses into housing complexes. That’s 22% of the state’s golf stock that hosts upward of 45% of the state’s golf play and roughly 90% of the game’s growth and diversity programs. It singles out golf for dismemberment — no other park, open space or land preservation use is similarly jeopardized. What is being done to stave this action off? Will this dangerous trend spread?

7. Whither The PGA Show?

COVID-19 resulted in The PGA Show being held in a virtual format in 2021, and the PGA of America and PGA Exhibitions now look to return to an in-person event later this month in Orlando. However, several of the biggest brands in the industry chose not to participate. What can the show organizers do to ensure a successful future for this annual gathering of the golf industry?

8. How will the new name, image, and likeness opportunities affect the collegiate and amateur game?

The modernized rules of amateur status went into effect on Jan. 1, and questions have arisen about how it will affect the college and amateur game. Is there real money out there for a nonrevenue-producing college sport like golf? Will the rules help the development of talented golfers with limited financial resources?

9. What does the future hold for Tiger Woods?

Woods impressed people with his play at the family team PNC Championship in December. By his own admission, however, he is a long way from competing in a PGA Tour event. Will he build his endurance enough to walk the hills of Augusta National Golf Club in April? Or the less physically challenging demands of the Old Course at St. Andrews for the 150th Open Championship in July?

10. What of the changing/expanding television landscape?

The PGA Tour negotiated new television deals with CBS and NBC/Golf Channel while adding ESPN to the broadcast mix. The latter is of great interest, as ESPN takes on tour streaming rights as a part of ESPN+, Disney’s critically important subscription service. That brings $700 million-plus into the PGA Tour coffers. How will tour Commissioner Jay Monahan use the new funding? And what of the networks? The NBC broadcast crew is getting a little long in the tooth, and 51-year-old Phil Mickelson has demonstrated a command of the microphone that could leave him waiting in the wings.

Jim Nugent is the founder and publisher of Global Golf Post and has worked in golf media for more than a quarter century. Contact him at

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