By Jake Marsh SYRACUSE, NY (NCC News) — Thursday marked the opening round of the 2017 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA.
It is unquestionably the most anticipated time of the year for golf enthusiasts, as most of them set the second weekend in April aside each time.
The problem? The number of those golf enthusiasts has been declining in recent years.
Sean Dadey, Head Golf Pro at Drumlins Country Club in Syracuse, NY, said the length of time it takes to play a round can draw players away.
“Well, I think time is one of it [the reasons]. It takes some time to play,” Dadey said. “The other reason I think, one of the other reasons: youth sports are full time now. So, if someone’s playing soccer it’s a year-round… if they’re playing basketball, it’s a year-round.”
The average time it takes for a foursome playing on an 18-hole course is just more than four hours. To put that in comparison, college basketball games take roughly two hours per contest. Baseball and football games average near three hours.
Don Pair, a Central New York Resident, first stepped on a golf course nearly 75 years ago. He said he loves everything the game has to offer.
“It’s a fun game,” Pair said. “It’s a frustrating game, I have a lot of clubs in the basement that have evil spirits, but it’s fun. I like it.”
Although the 85-year-old is a big fan of the sport, he acknowledges one of the other problems that may cause a decrease in popularity.
“You see it on TV too much and it looks easy,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s hard. It’s cruel.”
Thursday and Friday’s coverage of The Masters is on ESPN, with CBS anchoring the final two rounds over the weekend.
Bill Leasure said he would like to see more people appreciate all the game of golf offers for all ages.
However, his ideas to boost those participation numbers might seem a bit far-fetched.
“If we make the hole [bigger], so that’s easier, a lot more people will play,” Drumlins’ Golf Shop Manager said. “And if they don’t try to copy these guys on TV, and look at a putt from seven different angles and take 25 practice swings, that type of stuff.”
Englishman Danny Willet enters this year’s tournament as the defending champion. American Jordan Spieth won it all in 2015.