Golf Scores Are Up in Licensing

From duffers to top pros, golf’s audience is a rich licensing gold mine.

Jane Neal, Content Editor

April 18, 2024

3 Min Read
The Crosby Collection, adidas, Malbon Golf
The Crosby Collectionadidas, Malbon Golf

In Scotland, the birthplace of golf, the weather might be wet and chilly for a day out on the links. But, regardless of the conditions where you live, golf season has officially kicked off around the world. The Masters Tournament in balmy Augusta, Ga., one of the four men’s major golf championships in professional golf and the first major golf tournament of the year, is already behind us. 

As a non-contact, outdoor sport, golf’s popularity surged during the pandemic. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), golf’s overall reach in the U.S. is an estimated 123 million. More than one-third of the U.S. population over the age of 5 has played golf (on-course or off-course), followed golf on television or online, read about the game or listened to a golf-related podcast in 2023. That’s an increase of 30% since 2016. Recent data from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), also finds the number of Americans participating in golf has increased significantly. SFIA reports that in 2023, a record 45 million people participated in the sport, which is a 9.6% increase from the 41.1 million players in 2022. To put this in perspective, total golf participation was only at 34.2 million players in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

Puma x Arnold Palmer Collection

Gearing Up

This increased enthusiasm for the sport naturally translates to licensing growth. In January, adidas and Malbon Golf debuted The Crosby Collection, a capsule apparel line inspired by the late singer, Bing Crosby’s, famous Clambakes. (The Bing Crosby Clambake was the precursor to what is now known as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.) Last month, Upper Deck, a worldwide leader in sports and entertainment collectibles, released Upper Deck Golf, its newest trading card series celebrating golf’s greatest athletes.

As more and more people flock to courses and driving ranges, they’re in need of the appropriate accouterment. Most notably, there’s been a significant uptick in sales of golf shoes. According to Circana’s retail tracking data, golf footwear saw $407.8 million in sales in 2023. And while dollar sales did decline 1% last year versus 2022, the market is still 48% larger compared to pre-pandemic 2019 when the category reported $275.8 million in sales.

Earlier this year, Boxto, manufacturer of handcrafted leather golf shoes and belts, became Nicklaus Companies’ newest official licensee and unveiled new Nicklaus-branded shoes. In January, Tiger Woods ended a 27-year partnership with Nike, only to turn around in February to launch his new golf brand, Sun Day Red. 

When it comes to legendary golf and style, one name at the forefront is Arnold Palmer, famously known as The King and leader of Arnie’s Army. To celebrate The King’s legacy, in March, PUMA Golf again partnered with the AP brand to create the latest PUMA Golf x Arnold Palmer Collection. The collection comprises seven polos, one full-zip jacket, pleated shorts, three golf cap models, one golf visor and four limited-edition footwear styles.

With golf season just getting into full swing, there’s certain to be plenty more licensing partnerships teeing up deals.

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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