Niall Horan is combining a hugely successful solo singing career with a burgeoning golf business, following the setting up of Modest! Golf Management in 2016. Here, the 30-year- old from Northern Ireland explains why he decided to get into player and tournament management, reveals his hopes for the future growth of the game; his own golfing obsession, and, oh, how he almost broke 80 at Augusta

When did you first get into golf?

I started from a really early age back home in Mullingar in Ireland with a group of friends. I loved the sport back then and loved staying up on Masters Sunday watching the final round with my dad.

What do you love about the game?

Everything. It’s a great way to escape for a bit, to turn my phone off and relax. I enjoy playing and meeting new people and the challenge of working hard to try and improve my game.

There’s nothing more grounding than a game of golf before you get the adulation of a crowd! I just love it, and that’s why I really got into it.

I was playing a lot when I was younger but once the band kicked off and we were traveling the world, we used to just play a lot to get away from the madness. It’s a nice release to be able to spend four hours thinking about something else.

How much time do you get to work on your own game these days?

My game is doing okay – my handicap is 9. I’d like to get it down to five or below, but it’ll take a bit of work to do that.

The clubs go everywhere with me on the tour bus, so I always try and find somewhere to play or practice between concerts.

When we go on tour, that’s how we fill a lot of our days off, and we even been known to play on some of our gig days as well! My home club is Wentworth. When I’m in America I play all over though. Wherever I can get a game.

Have you ever been coached or taken lessons?

haven’t, but I should. Half the issue is that I live in Central London and when I go out to Surrey or whatever to play golf, you go out to play, not practice. With the amount of time I get to play golf these days, all I want to do is play.

If I had the time, I’ve been lucky enough to get to know a lot of the coaches from just being around them and that would be the aim.

If I’m struggling with something these days, I just send a video to someone like ‘Rosey’ [Justin Rose]… I know that sounds incredibly privileged, but he’s become a good friend of mine and it’s cool to have that help. I’m sure if he ever needed singing tips he’d throw them at me!

Naill with Justin Rose


Why did you decide to set up Modest! Golf Management and how proud are you of way the company has developed and of what your players have acheived?

I really felt, along with my management company, that we could offer something different for some of the young golfers coming through.

My management company has looked after young talent for many years, and then we brought in Mark McDonnell and Ian Watts into the company, who between them have 35 years’ experience in the golf industry.

Our focus is 100% our players. This isn’t about me or anybody else. This is about our players. This is their time, their careers, and we’re there to support them as best we can every step of the way. Long term, we want to develop a small, very talented stable of players across all tours.

We’re a boutique company and want to sign a small number of key talents and really support them on their journey.

It’s mad. We started with literally nothing in 2016 and now we’ve got a stable of 15 players across all the global tours and offices in London and Los Angeles.

We’ve been lucky enough to attract some great players, including Tyrrell [Hatton], Connor Syme, Ewen Ferguson, Guido Migliozzi, Leona Maguire, Anna Nordqvist and LPGA Tour player Angel Yin, to name but a few.

It’s been incredible time and hopefully we can kick on now. We’ll see what happens. It’s a tough world out there, but we’re going to try and cause a bit of disruption



You’ve played your own part raising the profile of golf in Ireland with Modest! Golf’s management of the Challenge Tour’s NI Open, which then became the ISPS World Invitational, and transformed into a mixed event with women and men playing for the same prize money. How did that come about?

We always wanted to get involved with the Challenge Tour and put our money where our mouth is. I’d also heard what a first class event the NI Open had been for a number of years.

It was described to me as the closest thing you will get to a main European Tour event, and for us that’s exactly what we wanted to be involved with.

So it was great that it went on to become a tri- sanctioned event between the DP World Tour, the Challenge Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

We got into golf with the aim of developing the next generation of players, whether they be men and women, so by supporting a tournament like the World Invitational we helped to bring that goal to fruition.

We created the opportunity for women to perform on the same stage as men and compete for the same prize fund, and I am delighted that so many female pros took part.

It was always such a fun week, with lots of events outside of the tournament itself, with
live music acts and more. It definitely attracted a much younger, newer audience. It’s a shame that it came to an end last year, but we definitely went out with a bang.

You’ve been lucky enough to play some great courses around the world, but word has it that you’ve played Augusta the week before the Masters, not once, but twice. What was that experience like?

The things that I’ve been able to do through golf are just insane. But yeah, I’ve been lucky enough to have played Augusta on a few occasions now and you know the way you play some course and go, ‘well I’ve done it now, ticked that box’, this one is just on a different planet. It’s like nothing on earth. It’s what I imagine heaven to look like.

The first time I played it was I standing on the 18th needing a par for a 78 and then doubled the last. I shot 80, which is still not too bad, eight-over, but I’m a much better golfer now, so to break 80 is the big aim now.

If you treat it as a normal golf course, it’s score-able. But it’s very hard to treat it
as just another course. When you get on that first tee your grip gets tighter and it all becomes a little tense because you always want to play well on a great course. You kill yourself just thinking about it.

Augusta National

You announced a new collaborative partnership with Callaway at the beginning of last year. How did that come about and what does it entail?

It’s amazing and it came about quite by chance. We met at The Open in 2022 to talk about a couple of content things.

Then it became, ‘do you want to sign up with us and play with our gear?’They’d help Modest! with our grassroots work with the R&A and vice versa, so it was a great fit.

Callaway are the ones really putting their money where their mouth is in terms of initiatives like getting people into the game with their ownership of Topgolf.

I met Chip Brewer, the president of Callaway, when I went to get my fitting in Carlsbad and just speaking to him it was clear that we’re all on the same page in terms of getting people into golf and how we do that.

How’s Callaway’s new AI Smoke equipment treating you?

The gear is off the charts. The new Smoke irons are ridiculous – they’re so forgiving! They feel incredible, how pure they strike the ball. I got an extra nine yards off my seven iron alone which I didn’t think was in there – I wasn’t even swinging it particularly hard.

As for the driver, I drive the ball decently anyway. I’m carrying it 270 to 275 yards which is decent for someone my size and weight, but I managed to find another seven or eight yards off that as well so it’s been impressive to see.

Visiting the factory, I was lucky enough to get a bit of a tour around the place. They explained how they do all the aerodynamics, how they’re shaping clubs, the metals they use, the carbon, the AI technology, the thought behind it all and it’s so impressive.

They’re definitely changing the game, there’s no doubt about that. As we can see from the top half of world golf – there’s a good few in there that are playing Callaway.

Who’s the best golfer among your peers in music?

Justin Timberlake. The man’s class.

Any contenders for the worst?

It’s funny you say that. We’ve just got Lewis Capaldi a set of Callaway clubs. He clipped a few balls, sent me a video and I’ll tell you what, the swing’s naturally there.

Must be the Scottish in him. A while ago he was like, ‘I’m not f***ing playing golf, f*** that! That’s a loada rubbish, old man’s game.’ Then six weeks later he’s asking me if I can get him a set of clubs!

He’s mad into it. He’s playing on tour with the lads in the band as well now, so if we can get him into golf, then anything is possible!