by Jeff Skinner
Golf is a difficult game. That’s not news. For years amateur hackers have continued to take their game to the course in the hopes that this will be the round we finally find it. The it being the ability to play this game like a pro.
Technology has helped the amateur golfer play the game a little better but essentially the average score hasn’t gotten any lower and there are less golfers playing today then there were ten years ago. Mark King the CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf. King’s company is responsible for making equipment that not only lets tour players win championships but also has helped the average golfer hit it a bit longer and a little straighter. In a Golf.com article he even suggested enlarging the hole. Now the guys at Golf Digest are giving it a try. On Thursday at Pine Needles Golf Course, a classic Donald Ross design, golfers will tee it up and have a look at 15 inch holes when then get to the greens.
15 inch holes? Come on guys. I am all for finding ways to attract new players and helping golfers score a bit better but this is going a bit too far. Cancel that…this is sacrilege. Normal golf holes are 4.25 inches and should remain that way. Would you make a basketball hoop the size of a refrigerator? How about playing baseball with six outs per side? No, you wouldn’t. Leave the damn hole alone.
Certainly getting the ball in the hole is what it is all about but once you are on the green the game finally becomes fair. Any person that can stand up and hold a club can putt. It takes the least amount of physical skill to propel the ball toward the hole when you are on the green. Anyone that can walk on the green can putt. It’s getting to the green that is the problem. It’s the hundreds of yards from tee to green that tortures the average hacker. That’s where they need help guys…not on the green. Yes, being a good putter means a lot but if there is any part of this game where we hackers can compete with the better players it’s on the green.
Make getting to the green easier and then you’ll get more golfers. Make it easier to hit more fairways and subsequently more greens and you’ll be on to something. Check the average scorecard and you’ll find few greens hit in regulation. Here’s how you get more golfers on the green with a chance for more pars. Make the course shorter. Yes, shorten the course. I know in today’s world of “farther is better” this is blasphemy but if you want more golfers staying with the game this is the way to do it.
Pars make golfers happy. Birdies make golfer very happy. Happy golfers play more and that means more cash for the struggling golf course industry. My solution is simple and can be done without redesigns and bulldozers and capital expenditures.
Simply go out and pick up any tee marker that is painted black, blue and heck, even white. Block off the back tees, say they’re under construction or have Rosanne Barr standing there in a bathing suit. Heck Charlie Sheen is looking for work now so get him to stand at the back tees and rant about how he is a “rock star from Mars.” No way anyone would want to be around that and the forward tees would be getting a work out.
In one of the gazillion of golf articles I read every week I remember someone saying that if a PGA Tour player had to play from the average golfer’s drive it would translate into him playing a course that is over 8,000 yards. Get it guys? We don’t hit it long enough to play these 7,000 yard courses; heck 6,500 is a heck of a challenge. Leave the hole alone. It’s one of the constants in this ever changing game.
4.25 inches, it’s what Phil and Tiger putt into. It’s the same size that Nicklaus, Palmer, Snead, Hogan, Nelson, Hagen, Bobby Jones and all the other immortals faced. With all the changes on the courses over the years it’s one of the few things that remained the same. Leave the hole alone. It’s the journey to the hole that really matters.