Growing the game

During the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando last week, Mark King, the CEO of TaylorMade introduced their idea for speeding up play. The 14-inch cup more than triples the target on the green from the current 4.25 inch cup, and speeds up play on the green. This idea is not a new one. Jack Nicholas talks about increasing the size of the cup in the green to an 8 inch diameter for amateurs and high-handicappers. Both men talk about the increased pace of play and more enjoyment for new and less skilled players.

The slow pace of play seems to be the biggest complaint on the course. So, how does that problem get solved? TaylorMade is hosting a blog site called Hackgolf.org, collecting ideas to make golf more attractive to new players as well as current players. Ideas range from adding leagues for young players and new adult players to creating Big Break-style competitions to attract more interest. Of course, some say that the game is perfect in its current form and folks should learn to play without any additional changes.

Barney Adams, the father of Tee it Forward promotes shortening the game to make it more enjoyable and faster. The point of golf is to be outside and have fun. When it’s work for a player to get to the green, the fun starts to seep away. Adams wonders why amateurs feel the only way to play a course is from the back tees. That rule doesn’t appear in the rulebook. Players should play from tees that allow them to be on the green in regulation without any herculean efforts. The game isn’t any easier, just more enjoyable and oftentimes faster.

This topic is a perennial within the golf community. Over time, perhaps a combination of the Tee it Forward philosophy and some changes in the rules or setup for new players will help reduce the number of players that quit because it’s just not fun anymore.

What do you think would speed up play?

Rules changes for golf – is the game too hard?

Perusing the golf news and headlines this weekend, I ran into an interesting article here. In essence, Mr. Nicklaus is proposing making the game a bit easier and faster through a couple of changes.

  1. Making the hole 8 inches in diameter instead of 4 1/2 inches. This is intended to make putting easier and I would guess this would move the game along quicker as well. The golfing gal pals and I tend to spend time on making those putts.
  2. Reducing the number of holes played to 12 from 18. I can certainly agree to this. I love to play golf, but 18 holes can take the better part of an entire day. Many of us are busy folks with families. Nine holes often doesn’t seem like enough – maybe 12 would be the magic number
  3. Restricting the time for play to 2 1/2 hours and penalizing players one stroke for every five minutes over that 2 1/2 hour limit. Golf is one of the few sports that has no time restriction. For weekend play, this seems unlikely to be enforceable. Perhaps in tournaments a time limit is workable. I would think the networks would be in favor.

Mr. Nicklaus is holding tournaments at his Muirfield Village Club using these new rules to try to make the game more appealing to new golfers. I can see his point. I’ve known folks that quit playing because it takes too much time and is often just too hard to keep a level of competence if you don’t play at least once per week. Maybe some new variations on the game will bring out some new players.

How do you feel about these changes? What changes might be made in order to make the game a bit easier and maybe a bit quicker?