Putter through library’s extensive golf links

As a child and teen, golf held wonderful memories for me. I watched televised PGA tournaments with my family at home and occasionally rode with my dad on his golf cart while he played at the Greensburg Country Club.

Although I was strictly a novice, it was fun to hit balls at practice ranges or play a few holes as long as I wasn’t holding up golfers behind me. During some of my trips to Hilton Head, I would walk out of the house I was staying to the empty course just a few yards away and practice playing a few holes before the sun went down.

One great memory was following the late Arnold Palmer while he played at a PGA tournament. “Arnie’s Army” was the name given to the large groups that followed Palmer during tournaments. I was impressed how respectful and friendly he was to his fans.

I attended what is now known as the RBI Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island. I was able to access the clubhouse where some of the world’s top golfers such as the late Payne Stewart and Fred Couples prepared to play. Harbor Town’s beautiful course provided gorgeous views of salt marshes and the waterway known as the Calibogue Sound.

Before the great recession in December 2007, golf received a boost in popularity for several years. The U.S. economy was strong, many new courses were built and the rise of Tiger Woods attracted new players. During the recession, participation decreased.

Teens and young adults lacked interest due to golf’s reputation of being a costly sport for older, more affluent players. Tiger Woods’ popularity declined and some golf clubs were forced to close. Discussions arose across the country regarding how the sport could attract more fans and players.

Today golf is making a comeback among all demographics. Golf clubs have found ways to attract players with fitness and wellness facilities, relaxed dress codes, discounted rounds and access to Wi-Fi.

Jack Nicklaus advocated for the 12-hole format several years ago when players complained that the sport took too long to play. Another PGA icon, Greg Norman, suggested 6- and 12-hole courses. Some courses have changed the standard 4.25 diameter hole to a 15 inch diameter to improve scores and increase game speed.

Teens and young adults tend to enjoy technology incorporated in the sports they play. Top Golf is a franchise golf entertainment complex for players of all ages. Participants rent a hitting bay complete with a food and drink menu, couches, TVs and free equipment to play various levels of point-scoring golf games using microchip technology.

Individual and group golf lessons are available using swing analysis technology. The closest Top Golf to Columbus will be opening in the near future in Fishers.

Your library has several titles available for golfing enthusiasts. There are books on famous PGA professionals such as “Playing Through: Modern Golf’s Most Iconic Players” by Jim Moriarty and “Arnie: The Life of Arnold Palmer by Tom Callahan.”

The history of golf is detailed in “The Story of Golf in Fifty Holes” by Tony Dear. James Patterson’s “Miracle at Augusta” is a fictional story set in the golf world. The library also has several golf DVDs illustrating how beginners to seasoned players can improve their game.

Kathy Campbell is a reference assistant at the Bartholomew County Public Library and can be reached at kcampbell@mybcpl.org.