It’s America’s fastest growing sport. Now this Aussie superstar has invested


From glory on the golf course, to ownership on the pickleball court. Australian golfer Adam Scott talks to Forbes Australia about co-owning the Gold Coast Glory Major League Pickleball team.
Adam Scott may have one hand full with a golf club, but he has put his other hand up to be co-owner of the Gold Coast Glory pickleball team. (Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images)

LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Patrick Mahomes are doing it.

Now, homegrown golfing hero Adam Scott is getting in on the pickleball action.

Queensland-raised Scott has signed on as an owner of the Gold Coast Glory pickleball team, joining Australian olympian Natalie Cook in the venture. The Glory won the Major League Pickleball Australia event held in Brisbane earlier this month.

“I’m proud to be a part of this organisation and look forward to celebrating more team championships in the future,” Scott said.

“Congratulations to the Gold Coast Glory on their recent win at the Brisbane Championships. I’d also like to congratulate the Glory’s own Roman Estereja for taking home MVP honours,” says Scott.

What is Pickleball?

The sport was invented in Seattle, Washington in 1965. It is described as a combination of tennis, badminton, and ping pong.

Like tennis, pickleball can be played as a singles competition or doubles, and takes place on a court. Rather than a racquet, players use a paddle similar, though larger, than what is used in table tennis.

The global pickleball market is projected to more than double to USD$3.5 billion within seven years, according to a US report.

Some 48 million adult Americans played pickleball in 2023, according to a report from the Association of Pickleball Players – almost double Australia’s population.

It is the fastest-growing sport in the US for the third year in a row, and is gaining traction in Australia too.

Professional pickleballers on the court as part of the Pacific Pickleball competition. Source: Pickleball Australia

“With participation now surpassing tennis, the sport is long past a fad for Australia,” says Anthony Liveris, the President and co-founder of Pacific Pickleball.

“It’s just a matter of how big. Australia is one of the fastest-growing markets outside of North America, and the only one with an active professional league that competes on the global stage,” says Liveris.

He and co-founder Adam Thompson launched the Major League Pickleball Australia competition in November last year. There are currently 12 professional teams, including the Sydney Smash, Melbourne Mavericks, Brisbane Breakers, and Gold Coast Glory.

The founders say the game is exploding in popularity and aim to grow the league to 1 million players across APAC by 2032. Major League Pickleball is offering $700,000 in prize money this year, distributed between six competitions in Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

“The explosive popularity of the sport in Australia has created a strong need for professional events. Participation in the sport currently exceeds 25,000 and membership has doubled in the last 12 months,” says Brendan Lee, the CEO of the Pickleball Australia Association.

Investors are looking with interest at the expansion of the sport in Australia, too. Trent Blacket is the founder of EMT (Entertainment Media Technology) Partners. His firm invested in the APAC Pro Pickleball League last year.

“EMT Partners alongside our colleague and friend Les Owen is thrilled to be an investor to support Anthony Liveris and team,” says Blacket.

Blacket lived in California for more than a decade and has seen the game accelerate in popularity Stateside. EMT is headquartered in Melbourne and Blacket – a founding shareholder via Ward Blacket Investments in client Chris Hemsworth’s CENTR app – goes back and forth between the US and Australia.

“Our primary community is the cross border American Australian entertainment, media, sports and technology sector and as America’s fastest growing sport, it excites us tremendously to help with the Australian expansion of Pickleball at the Pro League level,” says Blacket.

Pickleball in Australia

The average age of players in Australia is 58, according to Pickleball Australia. The largest club is in the Gold Coast, and Queensland is the most popular state for the sport.

Riley Bohnert and Eric Oncins react during a mixed pro doubles match in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Ong/The APP/Getty Images)

More women (56%) than men (44%) play in Australia, a reverse trend to that seen in the US. Pickleball Australia has more than 500 courts across the country, 200 qualified referees, 150 affiliated clubs, and 10,000 members.

“With the rapid growth in broadcasting, equipment sales, event hires, and stadium attendance, the total pickleball market in Australia is projected to be worth tens of millions by 2032. The existing Australian racquet sports equipment market is already worth A$75 million alone,” says Liveris.

Gold Coast Glory is not the only team owned by Australian sporting legends. Cricketer Steve Smith is at the helm of Sydney Smash, and basketballer Patty Mills has a stake in the Brisbane Breakers.

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here or become a member here.

More from Forbes Australia