James Walden remembers 1997 very very well. “I started golf when I was nine years old. Tiger won The Masters in '97. I was ten years old then and I've been in golf ever since.” Some people remember it as the weekend golf went mainstream. Tiger Woods capped a record setting Masters and the entire nation went crazy for golf. “Everyone wanted to wear the Nike hat, Nike shoes, The red shirt, the black pants.” he says.
But that was -count em up-17 years ago. That's quite a long time ago. James has seen the games popularity ebb and flow from his position as Golf Professional at Henderson Golf Club in Savannah. Now Tiger Woods makes headlines for different reasons than he did then and people just aren't playing golf as much as they used to. “A lot of people, you know, once they got to older age, they stopped playing as much. Went to college or got other jobs.” James says.
But now the PGA is trying to do something about it. Have been for a whiile actually.”Prices used to be outrageous. Places like in Myrtle Beach, it used to be $150, now it's $50 for 18 holes includes lunch and breakfast.” he says. There's even talk about 6 hole tournaments, so as to make the game less time consuming. “Back then people had more money, more time.” he says “they could take a day off and go play 18 holes of golf. Now it's more 'I work all day, try to get 9 holes in after work.”
For now, there's golf season. Masters weekend, and The Heritage on Hilton Head Island when people in this area at any rate get excited about the game again and get back out on the course.
“Yeah, you'll have the players that don't play a lot see The Masters and say 'oh I wanna play golf today.” Once the weather gets hot, they do fade away.”
But the effort is there to try to get them to stick.