Dawn breaks over the fresh bentgrass greens, those oh so familiar piano chords strike, and Jim Nantz welcomes you back once again. Ladies, Gentleman, Non Binary, and all friends alike, It’s almost time for The Masters. Even for a “newbie” like me these things bring joy to my heart, but not so long ago I was just an 18 year old kid and my baseball career had all but ended. I was ready for the golf stereotype to begin but I had no real knowledge of golf, but I did know one name, Tiger Woods. Like many fair weather fans I remember being glued to the TV watching Mr. Eldrick Woods, mostly as something my dad would put on TV to nap, but nonetheless. Tiger was engraved into my mind. In college I was lucky enough to meet members of our golf team who did me the favor of actually educating me on the history of the game, the ins and outs, and even attempted to take some strokes off my short game. (I’m still getting there). They turned me into a bonafide golf fan and many others from my school, all of us from different backgrounds. Like so many others, I felt honored to be a part of the millennial golf boom. The National Golf Federation reported in 2020 an increase of 500,000 golfers in the US which was the largest net increase in 17 years. When I look at that statistic I can’t help but to think of one person. Tiger Woods. Long before I became a fan of the sport Tiger had already brought forward one legendary golf boom, a golf boom that gave birth to the very players he would go up against in his return in the 2010’s. A return that brought forward a second boom. All of a sudden there were kids from all over the world with little to no knowledge of golf wondering. Can Tiger win more majors? Social media accounts today are entirely dedicated to following whether or not he will catch the record. Now facing a fantastic group of young players who watched him growing up and wanting to be like Tiger. Names like Speith, Thomas, Rahm, Morikawa, DJ, Koepka, DeChambaeu, to name a few. The new Tiger influenced generation has struck a chord with the younger audience. The rise of social media and PGA embracement, has led to Twitter beef between two young stars, celebrity golf matches that rake in the viewers, and a highly anticipated Netflix Drive to Survive documentary that could become even more of a game changer for the sports future. Thanks to social media we have realized the brilliance of calf activating, bomb dropping, and trash talk king Phil Mickelson. Without social media highlights do we truly think that his skills would be properly appreciated outside of the diehard fans?
This millennial generation has been hitting the course more and more. In 2021 golf business news ran a millennial golf study that shows there has been a 9% increase in average annual rounds played, 60% of millennials pick going golfing over other social activities, and increased average spending on a round of golf up 28% over the past 5 years. Now they say we don’t talk about Bruno, but just like the Madrigal family, I have to point out my severe handicap on the course. I find myself wanting to hit the course or even the range more and more in search of lower scores. In an age where my beloved baseball leadership are afraid to lean into a more modern game and listen to what fans would like to see. Golf has started to embrace this new generation and has made us feel accepted. Ten years ago I never really imagined myself as a weekend warrior wanting to golf all the time. But here I am, thinking about how I can maybe get out on some new courses in the area, making plans with college buddies on an out of state golf trip, and even trying to get my wife to join me at the driving range. All of this can be traced back to one man, Tiger Woods. Someone I consider on my Mount Rushmore of greatest influential athletes EVER. So here’s to you Tiger. Thank you for all that you have done for this sport, continue your speedy recovery, and we look forward to hearing that next Tiger roar.