Heading into this new decade, a lot of the focus on professional golf revolves around what we expect from the top players. Will Tiger Woods win another major? Will Brooks Koepka win 10? Which top player from the 2010s will retire first? Who will be the player of the decade to come? These questions all make for interesting conversation, and to some extent, they will likely define the next 10 years. However, stepping back from our constant focus on the professionals, it’s also worth noting that there figure to be some pretty big changes on the horizon for golf fans also.
The following stand out as ones worth keeping in mind:
New Ways To Watch Tournaments
The very nature of sports viewing is set to change fairly dramatically over the course of the next few years. For the most part, this will just mean a continued transition away from cable television and toward streaming options. Whether that means cable alternatives like Sling TV or YouTube TV or more specialized sports streaming networks, you should assume that in five years’ time you’ll be watching PGA Tour events through an app or program of some kind rather than through a cable connection.
It’s also likely that there will be some more radical new options, however, with virtual reality leading the way. We’ve already seen some early versions of VR viewing for major events, and while sports viewership through VR, in general, has gotten mixed reviews so far, no one’s giving up yet. As the technology continues to be refined and broadcasting becomes more of a focus, it’s fairly likely that there will be more options to watch tournaments in this medium. VR will allow fans to watch from any vantage point they desire and jump from hole to hole, or golfer to golfer, at will.
The Rise Of Popular Golf Betting
Golf betting has long been available to U.S. fans – though, for the most part, they’ve had to go to Las Vegas or off-the-beaten-path casinos to enjoy it. Now, however, things are changing. Adjustments to nationwide laws have given states the freedom to pursue legal, regulated betting options, and beginning in New Jersey, sportsbooks have begun to open. They have listings for a variety of sports, including golf, and figure to make golf betting far more widely available.
As of now, there are still just a few states that have fully welcomed online betting, and most are in the Northeast rather than the South or other regions better known for pro golf activity. However, Indiana recently became home to some of the hottest new sportsbooks in the U.S., which furthers hopes that the spread south and west will occur in a short time. Judging by the Indiana offerings – the state highlights BetRivers and DraftKings’ Sportsbook in particular – it looks as if each new state to pick up gambling will start with robust, professional platforms. That means that before long, more states will have full online betting businesses, and golf fans in the next several years will have more opportunities to take an interest in gambling on the sport.
Opportunities To Learn From The Pros
Golf training methods are always getting more advanced, often thanks to tech-based programs. In fact, you may have read about a new biomechanic feedback system from V1 Sports and BodiTrak on this very site just last fall. Programs and technologies like this are making it easier for aspiring golfers to monitor their own games and track their own progress as they work on the fundamentals. However, the idea here is that such programs will also continue to have more direct involvement from professionals.
The simple fact is that technology is allowing people to interact with their heroes – in sports or otherwise – more than ever before. We’re seeing athletes putting out educational coaching series (think Kobe Bryant’s “Detail” on ESPN+); more athletes are going into detail about their opinions and practice habits on podcasts (give a listen to Bill Simmons’s “Book Of Basketball 2.0” podcast for some insights from players); and we’re seeing celebrities in various fields doing full video lecture courses for people who want to learn from them directly (as we see in the Masterclass program). Through any and all of these methods, it’s likely that we’ll start to see more opportunities to learn from the pros we admire – particularly as some of the great early-2000s players near retirement and free up the time to do programs like these.
In all probability, there are additional new things coming for fans that we can’t quite predict. These changes, however, seem particularly likely, and in some cases are already underway. And they’re going to make it even more fun to be a golf fan in the 2020s.