Popstar Niall Horan has spoken about his campaign to make golf more inclusive for girls and women.
In an interview with Telegraph Sport, Horan explained how he was hoping to change the perception of golf and help the sport appeal to a mass market. The Irishman now balances his time as a popstar with his role at the helm of talent agency Modest! Golf.
Horan explained how he wanted to tap into an audience of young women, having previously done so as one of five singers in the wildly successful boyband One Direction.
“Whatever young girls are into is usually doing quite well – whether it be fashion, sport or music,” Horan said. “They are a powerful group historically and even more so now. I saw it with the band and now with my music – when girls get passionate about something, they really give everything to it.
“You see it online – the younger generation pretty much run social media and corporates listen to them. That is why I feel we can try to get rid of the stigmas around golf with the help of young girls. If a small per cent of the 60 million people who follow me can pick up a golf club, we have half a chance.”
Horan said he felt golf was seen around the world as a “rich man’s sport”, a perception that “even comes down to the clothing or the country club culture”.
“It is about letting people know it isn’t necessarily like that, or if there is something we can change. There are multiple things that over a long period of time can change. The needle is never going to suddenly move. But I think girls are a very powerful part of starting that process.”
The 27-year-old disputed the claim that women’s golf did not have “superstars”, citing Modest! Golf’s client Leona Maguire, who reached a career-high of 63rd in the world rankings last month. He also named Nelly Korda and Jessica Korda, who both play on the LPGA Tour. Nelly Korda recently won this year’s Women’s PGA Championship.
“They are like the new Williams sisters,” Horan said of the Korda siblings. “They just need to be shown off.”
For now, Horan is trying to establish gender equality in golf by leading by example. Modest! Golf is presenting this month’s World Invitational, which offers male and female competitors equal prize pots of £1.08 million.
After that, the women’s golf calendar continues with the Women’s Scottish Open, the Women’s Open and the Solheim Cup.