James Achenbach – a wily and clever golf writer who worked full-time for Golfweek magazine for 24 years and then as a freelance writer for the PNGA’s Pacific Northwest Golfer magazine – passed away on April 15, 2022. He was 78.
A winner of six first-place awards in the annual Golf Writers Association of America writing competition, Achenbach spent most of his time at Golfweek as their associate editor of equipment and technology. He lived part of the year in Happy Valley, Oregon, competed in PNGA and OGA championships and volunteered for the OGA Junior Program.
After undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of Iowa, during which he also attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Achenbach served various stints at newspapers around the country before submitting freelance articles to Golfweek in the 1970s which then grew into a full-time gig with the magazine in 1991.
He became a popular voice for the senior golfer, often writing about his pet peeve, slow play. He attended more than 40 consecutive Masters, earning a personal parking spot at Augusta National Golf Club in 2010 along with the club’s Masters Major Achievement Award. He interviewed all the greats of the game, including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Byron Nelson and many others.
He had a particular affinity for amateur golfers and the many PGA of America professionals who promoted the game. He could hobnob with USGA or R&A executives just as easily as he would listen to the preachings of a local club fitter at a small, independently owned retail golf store. He was always happy to talk golf.
And we were always happy to talk to him about golf as well.
(Jason Lusk contributed to this article.)