Country music legend Charlie Daniels is still going strong at age 75, touring the world to play familiar hits such as Grammy Award-winning "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," "In America" and "The South's Gonna Do It." His band, The Charlie Daniels Band, along with country stars Little Big Town, will hold a free concert at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, April 20, at Savannah's historic Forsyth Park, courtesy of Liberty Mutual Insurance.
In addition to music, Daniels has also enjoyed a decades-long love affair with golf. He talked about the game this week with Maureen Radzavicz:
CHAMPIONS TOUR: So, how long have you been playing golf and how did you get your start??
CHARLIE DANIELS: Well, basically it just looked like fun, so I went out and tried it. That's probably been, gosh, maybe 40 years ago. I enjoy the game. I'm just a hacker, I don't play good at all, but it's a lot of fun. I carry my clubs around when I'm traveling and my wife plays with me.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: So what's your handicap??
CHARLIE DANIELS: I've never really established a handicap. I don't even keep score anymore. I just go out and play. It's all fun for me. It's all for fun and I don't really follow the rules particularly or anything. I just go out and hit the ball and enjoy it. It's relaxation for me. It's like somebody sitting down and taking a guitar and just playing it for fun. To me that's serious, but golf is fun. Guitar's serious, golf's fun.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Given your busy touring schedule, how often do you get to play??
CHARLIE DANIELS: I've had some shoulder problems here the last little while, so I was not able to play last year. I've got a problem in the rotator cuff and I'm not going to be able to extend my swing as far back as I did. I'm trying to practice to where I cut my swing almost in half, but it's a little hard to get used to after all these years. I haven't really had a lot of time to practice lately. I'm hoping to get back into it as the summer goes on.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Do any of the guys in your band play??
CHARLIE DANIELS: Oh, yeah, we have a tournament every year. I've got a couple of guys that play pretty well. If we have a day off on the road, we'll rent clubs for everybody and have a little tournament and do a scramble format. I give a little cash prize to the winners and it's fun. Take them out to dinner and have a good time.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Who in your band has the best game??
CHARLIE DANIELS: Probably one of the bus drivers, Danny Curran. He's probably got the best game. My drummer plays pretty well too.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Do you follow PGA TOUR events at all??
CHARLIE DANIELS: Yes. I watched the Masters. I just had cataract surgery, so I was not able to see really well up until about Sunday, but I got to see Bubba's joy when he won and that was just great. One of the greatest (finishes) I've ever seen.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Do you have a favorite course that you've ever played??
CHARLIE DANIELS: Well, I have courses that I've played, not that I played particularly well. I played Augusta National. One of the finest courses in the country, Shadow Creek in Las Vegas. I've played Congressional, oh, gosh, I played a lot of courses that are a good test. Most of the storied courses, the legendary courses, they're very hard to play really. I've played a couple of PGA courses, like (TPC) Sawgrass in Florida. They're all pretty good to me.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Is there any course on your bucket list that you hope to play some day??
CHARLIE DANIELS: I can't think of one in particular. The big one was Augusta and the opportunity to play that one came up a few years back. I think anybody who has ever aspired to play golf at all, if you gave them a choice, would probably say Augusta National.
There are some places (I'd still like to go). I would like to play a course overseas. I've played a couple courses in Australia, but I would like to play one of the courses in Scotland, one of the old courses just to say I've done it.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: I know you're involved in several charity golf events during the year, tell me about them.
CHARLIE DANIELS: Well, we have one coming up on May 22, the Phillips Fulmer and Charlie Daniels Golf Classic. The tournament is in its 14th year and has raised more than $1.1 million for The Jason Foundation, which is dedicated to educating and building awareness programs to prevent youth suicide.
I also do one in Florida every year at the Hard Rock for the organization Angelus.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Are there any PGA TOUR players that you would love to meet someday??
CHARLIE DANIELS: The guys I would like to meet basically are the legends that were legends when I was coming up. I would like to meet Jack Nicklaus. I've seen Jack play, but I've never actually shook his hand. Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Chi Chi Rodriguez. The guys from back in those days that were such legends. When I first started playing and when I really got to watching golf, these were the guys that were winning the tournaments, so I would love to meet all those guys.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Who would be in your dream foursome??
CHARLIE DANIELS: Well, you have to put Nicklaus and Palmer in there. And I would like to put in that foursome Nancy Lopez. I've met her and she's such a nice lady.
CHAMPIONS TOUR: Perhaps someday you might even come out and play in a PGA TOUR pro-am??
CHARLIE DANIELS: Might just do that. If I can get this muscle straightened out here, this rotator cuff, just might do that.