Golf and surfing have joined forces. The two sports used to be thought of as natural rivals. Surfers with their love of freedom and anti-establishment attitudes didn’t find golf appealing because of its rules and club regulations. However, the two disciplines are now becoming more and more entwined, headed by professional surfers like Kelly Slater and Stephanie Gilmore.
The foundation of golf is the idea of using a stick to hit a little, white ball far into a tiny hole. The first written mention of golf dates back to 1457, when English King James II outlawed it because it was a disruptive diversion to the study of archery. It continues to be one of the most well-liked and lucrative sidelines in sports today. According to Forbes magazine, the current World No. 1 Rory McIlroy earned $29.6 million in prize money and sponsorship in 2013.
Gilmore, 26, is a golfer who is quickly developing who competes on tour alongside Kelly Slater and other top men’s surfers, according to a profile of the five-time world champion in the Golf Digest. Steph should have plenty of playing partners these days. Kelly Slater is the top golfer on the surfing tour and plays at least 150 rounds a year with a three-shot handicap. According to reports, Jordy Smith, Dusty Payne, and Bruce Irons are devotees, with Julian Wilson coming in second place. 16-year-old surf prodigies Leo Fioravanti and Kanoa Igarashi are both addicted to the sport.
Ricky Fowler and Ian Walsh are close friends, and at the PGA Sony Open tournament in Hawaii last year, former surf pro Benji Weatherly caddied for U.S. Open champion Adam Scott. Golf does appeal to those with an excess of both time and money, which is essentially what a professional surfer does for a living. Former Quiksilver CEO and Pine Valley member Bob McKnight stated in a Golf Digest interview that “Fifteen years ago nobody in the surf industry played golf, and now it appears practically everybody does.”