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Relive how Tiger Woods won the 1997 Masters


Joe Beditz, the president of the National Golf Foundation, has seen the impact, including a 22% increase in recreational golf participation and a 50% increase in the number of non-white golfers since Woods turned pro in 1996 to 2001.

Joe Beditz Tiger’s biggest impact, by far, has been on public awareness of golf. It has become ubiquitous: television commercials, magazine covers, interviews and television appearances. Ultra-high public awareness has been the source of all golf’s blessings – more fans, more golfers, more courses, more equipment sales.

In the same five-year period beginning in 1996, PGA Tour prize money rose 172%, Masters TV audiences jumped 58%, and network cameras tried to capture every shot Woods struck during of any tournament.

NANTZ The idea was to never lose track of Tiger during the entire body of a three-hour show. It was a new era for golf as a golfer was now perhaps the most famous athlete in the world.

The pervasive belief in the wake of Woods’ 1997 Masters victory was that it would be a catalyst to diversify professional golf, which had a well-earned reputation for exclusionary tactics and bias. The PGA Tour had a Caucasians-only clause until 1961. Elder was not welcomed to the Masters until 14 years later. Woods’ breakthrough at the 1997 Masters and his explosive fame were expected to bring a sea change. But 25 years later, there are only a handful of black golfers on the PGA Tour.

JARIAH BEARD (one of dozens of black caddies at Augusta National from 1955 to 1983) We had more black pros in the 1960s than we do now. In the 1980s, another black golfer, Calvin Peete, won 12 PGA Tour events. He won the Players Championship and was at the top of the money rankings almost every year. Tiger arrived 10 years later, but how many followed him?

EDWARD WANAMBWA (editor for African American Golfer’s Digest and former caddy for Elder) It was kind of naive to think there was going to be this sudden influx of African American golfers. Why didn’t the floodgates open? Because elite golf is not cheap — equipment, travel, tournament fees are expensive. There are well-meaning initiatives to introduce the game to junior golfers, but the mechanisms to get to the tour weren’t there.

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