UPDATE: Murphysboro Man Talks About Experience as Official at PGA Championship

Aug 16, 2018

A southern Illinois man just took part in his 18th PGA Championship.

But, last week's tournament at Bellerive Country Club was extra special for Jesse Barge, the retired PGA Professional and Director of Golf Operations at Kokopelli Golf Club in Marion.

"It was the biggest, the loudest - and for me - the best, not just because of the huge crowds and excitement, but I'm originally from St. Louis and I graduated from high school five minutes from Bellerive."

Barge served as the rules official for the final round pairing Sunday featuring a hard-charging Tiger Woods. The Murphysboro man says after battling injuries and personal issues for years, Woods seems to appreciate his re-emergence in the sport he once dominated.
 
"In some respects it probably humbled him a little bit. I like his demeanor a lot better than it had been. It was kind of fun being with him."

Barge says Woods' return is great for the game, especially for junior golfers.
 
"We're always trying to introduce new people to golf. I think we did see a little bit of a decline in that when Tiger wasn't there. I think that will give a little bit of a shot in the arm."
 
He thinks it's a myth that golf is too expensive for many youngsters.
 
"You start getting involved in these traveling teams and they're buying expensive gloves and they've got to have two or three bats. I mean fishermen and hunters, think of the cost of a boat and how expensive the high-tech graphite rods and reels and all that stuff are."
 
Barge is currently the golf coach at Murphysboro High School.

He was elected to the Gateway Chapter of the PGA Hall of Fame in 2017.