By Joel Walker
For the Troy Daily News
AUGUSTA, Ga. — Golf is back.
Or at least that’s what six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus thinks.
“The game of golf hit its peak about 2006,” he said. “We lost about five million golfers after 2006, from about 30 to 25 million. But I think golf has made a turnaround. I think the game is coming back. People that have come back are people who really want to play golf and be involved in the game.”
Nicklaus said his course design company didn’t have a contract in the states since 2006. This year he said they have seven or eight jobs in the U.S.
Gary Player has a routine he follows each year on the Sunday before the Masters.
He walks down Magnolia Lane to the clubhouse and says it allows him to count his blessings received at Augusta National.
Player and Nicklaus hit ceremonial tee shots to open the 80th Masters on Thursday. Arnold Palmer joined them, but didn’t hit a tee shot.
There is speculation he’s had a stroke. But someone who knows says that is not the case.
“He’s 86. He’s old and tired “
Watson’s Final Masters
Tom Watson played in his final Masters, but missed the cut. He was hoping to go out by making the cut, but it didn’t happen. One reason was a penalty he called on himself when he said his ball moved as he addressed his ball on the seventh hole.
But he also said the golf course has gotten too long.
“I’m glad I don’t have to hit 5-woods and 3-woods at 18 anymore. That’s what it’s all about. These kids are hitting it up there and they are hitting 7-and 8-irons on 18. I’m back there trying to hit a 3-wood on that green. It’s a little bit out of my league now.”
Watson, now 66, said he will play an occasional tournament on the senior tour, but this was his last one against the kids.
Ian Woosnam, the 1991 Masters champ, is also calling it quits. He shot 82-81 and says he won’t tee it up in the tournament again.
So you think it’s unique that NCAA and U.S. Amateur champ Bryson DeChambeau uses irons that are all the same length. Think again.
In the trophy room at Augusta National there’s a set of irons all the same length that were used by Masters and National co-founder Bob Jones 80 years ago.
DeChambeau will turn pro Hilton Head this week.
Trojan Dave Shedloski, the international golf writer who is a member of the Troy Hall of Fame, had this observation about Nicklaus’ efforts.
“All the focus on Jack’s win 30 years ago in 1986 was nice, but 50 years ago in 1966 he became the first player to win back-to-back green jackets.”
Joel Walker is the former publisher of the Troy Daily News