PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL—The huge upsurge in golfing among black youth that Tiger Woods' success most likely initiated in the mid-1990s probably should have inspired thousands of young African-Americans, all of whom really ought to have turned up by now, professional golf officials announced Friday.
"We're almost certain that a whole new breed of hungry, contemporary, up-and-coming urban golfer should be emerging right now," PGA director of player development Paul Metzler said. "We don't really see any evidence of that, but given the buzz around Tiger Woods, a significant groundswell in golf almost certainly went through the black community like wildfire around 10 or 15 years ago. I can't for the life of me understand why the cream of black America's golfing crop isn't making the SportsCenter highlight reel right now."
In fact, according to PGA Tour statistics, there are fewer black golfers on the tour now than there were at the time of Tiger's birth in 1975, a fact the organization described as "baffling."
"We know Tiger Woods was just one golfer, but he was the best golfer we had for a long time," PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. "You'd think that his story, which made so many of us believe the color barrier in golf had been dismantled forever, would have made a lot of young black kids think so too. I can't imagine why it did not."
"Oh, we got that other black guy, too," Finchem added. "Branson? Bramlett? Joseph Bramlett, that's him. So we're sort of on our way, I guess."
Still, some golf insiders are less than surprised at the sport’s inability to attract young black kids, saying that besides the access to facilities, equipment, and huge swaths of free time needed to excel at the demanding sport, there may in fact be more attractive athletic opportunities for black kids.
"I think the golf world was expecting Tiger Woods to be the Serena and Venus Williams of golf, introducing a whole new community to a sport it might have—for whatever reason—thought was exclusionary or even hostile towards them," Sports Illustrated's Michael Bamberger said. "Which is a nice idea, but also rather shortsighted, as it's not like the tennis world is awash in young black kids, either. "
"Of course, you could make a case that black golfers face an uphill battle, as historically they were not allowed to join many of the sport's premier clubs or play on its premier courses, but Tiger's ascendancy changed all that," Metzler said. "At least, we've always assumed it did. We frankly have no idea why we aren't seeing hordes of young black golfers follow his lead by getting recruited to play at Stanford, going pro on their first try, winning their first major within a year, and establishing a significant and permanent black presence on the American golf scene."
"I also wish to stress the fact that PGA members and fans do not find that prospect threatening in the least," Metzler added.