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Graeme McDowell says golf must be cooler, sexier and less elitist as he plots new life as a restaurant boss

By Nevin Farrell

Golf star Graeme McDowell has taken a swing at the sport which has made him a multi-millionaire - saying it must become less elitist and more sexy.

Portrush-born McDowell, 37, was speaking after Nike - which sponsors Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy - confirmed that they will quit making golf equipment.

Asked if that meant young people are perhaps not as interested in golf, G-Mac - whose wife Kristin Stape is due to give birth to the couple's second child later this week - said: "There's no doubt the game needs to be faster, it needs to be cooler and it needs to be sexier.

"We need to get the young people involved, we need to really take the elitism away from the sport."

McDowell said that the young person of today "is an interesting animal".

"Sports and businesses and everyone is trying to work out what the millennial wants," he said. "I think the game of golf, having been inside it at the top level for the last 16 to 20 years, you see these big sponsors like Mastercard and see how much money they are spending in this space; how much research they are doing to make sure that there marketing money is being well spent?

"You see a company like Nike pulling the plug on their golf equipment and you ask yourself, 'What is going on out there?'"

"We need to get the young people involved, we need to really take the elitism away from the sport."

McDowell said there are many people working on widening the appeal of the sport but added: "I think we are lucky, we have got some young, cool, up-and-coming golfers that are really great role models for the sport and we have just got to believe that the sport is great, it has got great traditions, but we also gotta be innovators.

"We gotta make it cooler, funner and wear shorts and play music and have a faster version of the game. Watch this space, I think we have some smart people working on it."

McDowell's comments will be seen as controversial among traditionalists, but will be welcomed by the new generation on the fairways.

The likes of Jim Furyk (46) and Colin Montgomerie (53) have done little to challenge the staid image of the game.

On the golf course, McDowell said he felt "remotivated" and is playing as well as ever.

But when he puts down the clubs, G-Mac currently has a lot going on in his life. With his second child imminent, he gave the Olympics a miss this year in case he was called to the labour ward. He and Kristin already have a daughter, Vale Esme, born in 2014.

McDowell, who won the US Open in 2010, also has business interests. He owns the Nona Blue bar/restaurant outside of the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, Florida, where he lives.

He also has his own beer brand - 'G-Mac's Celtic Style Pale Ale'.

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