Exclusive to Niall Horan: “Golf is considered a sport for the rich.

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As a global music superstar, you wouldn’t think Niall Horan should expect too many phone calls. But there is one that, he admits, has taken a long time to come – R&A.

Horan, a former member of One Direction – one of the best-selling boy bands in pop history – and now a solo artist, may not be an obvious match for the R&A, recognized as one most stifling institutions in sport, but his passion for golf is not in question. He first fell in love with the game when he was six years old, walking over the fence at the pitch and putt court next to his grandmother’s house, and at the age of 12, he had joined his local club. in Mullingar, paying € 90 for the privilege.

Now he’s friends with Rory McIlroy – caddy for Ulsterman in the three-way contest at Augusta before the 2015 Masters – and the architect of the art agency Modest! Golf, with Agent Mark McDonnell.

Modest! Golf sees itself as a “disruptor” to the sport, representing established pros such as Tyrrell Hatton, female talents such as Irish Leona Maguire and Brendan Lawlor, the world’s top five disabled golfers.

This is not a vanity project. Horan is involved with his clients, dealing with players on a day-to-day basis, and freely admits that his name alone has not been a guarantee of success.

“The industry probably thought, ‘Who’s this guy that’s coming in now – singer turned golf agent? », He laughs. “It wasn’t easy at first. We were trying to convince the players that we were the management group for them while others are seasoned pros and pitch for some of the best amateur golfers in the world.

“We were trying to do a lot of persuasion. But little by little, we started to gain some credibility. I felt we could do it, but I had to balance my time with the music and then it became half of my life. Now it’s more of a full time job.

After creating his agency, the 27-year-old now aims to change the core target of golf and make it attractive to a mass market. The key, for Horan, lies in women – especially young women, a topic he has reasonable experience with, given that One Direction’s fan base was largely made up of teenage girls.

Selling pop songs to tweens is a different proposition to convince them of the merits of playing a green, but there is logic in Horan’s business plan – not least because, with his 60 million followers on social media he has a level – through that, even golf superstars like Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and McIlroy can’t boast.

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