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Gallup Poll: One Third of Americans Consider Themselves Golf Fans

Aired June 15, 2000 - 1:25 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Out West, the grass is emerald green and there's plenty of clear blue water. The only things that are dry are the martinis at the clubhouse. We're referring to Pebble Beach, the legendary California golf course where the 100th U.S. Open got under way early this morning. It's been an emotional week at Pebble Beach because of a golfer who isn't there, Payne Stewart, and one who says this is his farewell Open appearance, Jack Nicklaus.

Millions of Americans will be watching, and Frank Newport will be watching them. Frank joins us now from the Gallup studio in Princeton, New Jersey to talk about golf facts and figures -- Frank.

FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL EDITOR IN CHIEF: Indeed, Lou, it is a very special U.S. Open, the 100th Open, so we're looking at some of our data on golf and Americans. About a third of Americans consider themselves golf fans, which is actually a pretty big chunk; not as much, as you can see here, as say they're baseball or basketball fans. But still a sizable number consider themselves fans. They tend to be older men, as you might imagine.

Slightly fewer Americans -- you should know this -- golf themselves. About 20 percent say that they are regular golfers when we asked that question. That's the number over there. They tend to be younger, not older; men, in particular, under 50 years of age; 13 percent rarely golf. And then a lot of people, two-thirds of Americans, say they never golf, but of course they like to watch it.

Now, you just saw those photos of Pebble Beach. It's very, very interesting. We asked American golfers back at the time of the Masters: If you could play any course in the world, what course would you play? We thought Augusta National would come to the top. But even back then, it was Pebble Beach -- as you can see, about 37 percent of Americans. I think you're seeing the beautiful course now on the Pacific Ocean behind me. Overwhelmingly, that's the number-one course golfers want to play, then Augusta National, and then Andrews -- St. Andrews, which is in Scotland, of course, where the British Open will be this year. Vicariously, of course, a lot of golfers wishing they were out there right now.

You mentioned the last U.S. Open for a legend. That's Jack Nicklaus. Supposedly, this is -- he has said this is his last open. He's won it four times, I believe, once at Pebble Beach. We did ask golf fans a while back: Is Tiger Woods -- number one golfer in the world now -- better now than Jack Nicklaus was in his prime? You can see the results: Americans, of course, thinking, I guess, in the current tense, golfers in particular, think Tiger Woods is actually better than Jack Nicklaus. We'll see what happens as the golfers are out there this week.

That's where we are on golf. Lou and Natalie, back to you.

WATERS: OK, Frank Newport. Should be a great weekend.

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