Original article by Sam Adams on scga.org
Making golf more appealing to amateurs is something the golf industry has been looking for the past few years. In order to do this I think it is necessary to use a term that I have grown to hate because of it’s over use but is appropriate in this situation – think outside the box.
Change the Rules
Most golfers don’t play strictly by the Rules of Golf now. I have learned over the years that golfers tend to play by their own rules which should be fine as long as all parties involved agree and know what they are. I once played with a group for the first time and they told me on the first tee that they teed the ball up everywhere. When I asked why, they simply responded they figured that it kept them all playing by the same rules.
The vast majority of golfers that play rarely ever play in serious competitions so we keep the Rules of Golf like they are, but also allow the average golfer to make up their own.
As a teacher for 40+ years I always encouraged beginners and people working on a swing change to tee the ball up everywhere until they were comfortable with a simple lift, clean and place.
An extreme example of making the rules more liberal is a group called Flogton which is “Not Golf” spelled backwards.
Make Golf Easier
Making golf easier also makes it more fun but the question becomes how to do this. The answer is simple – let the manufactures make equipment that will make the game easier for the average golfer. We have tried adding additional sets of tees, but the ego of the average person will not let him play from tees he perceives to be “senior” or “women’s”.
No problem. If they don’t have to conform to the rule book then they can make golf balls and drivers that the average golfer can easily hit 30 or more yards longer. I have no idea what the limit really is if they could shape the driver in the most aerodynamic way and not restrictions on how far the ball could go. Nobody learns to snow ski or water ski on professional competition skis.
The same is also true with formed grips. It would be so much easier to learn initially if you had formed grips that would teach you a decent grip to start with. I am sure there are more that I haven’t even thought of.
Make it Less Expensive
One of the major complaints is how expensive golf is. Change the pricing structure from holes to time. Let people decide how much time they have and pay accordingly. Most municipal and public courses are built economically. This means the most efficient use of land. Holes are close together and often parallel. This makes it easier to play 3, 6, 9, etc. holes. Old private clubs are much the same way.
When real estate developers got involved it became about how to get the most lots on a course and we ended up with no holes close to each other and long distances from green to tee. This makes them more expensive to maintain just simple because you need more personnel and equipment.
The equipment companies that came into the business making user friendly clubs for amateurs would also be able to do it much cheaper, because they wouldn’t have the massive expense of paying tour players and furnishing them with unlimited supplies of custom equipment. There also wouldn’t be massive research budgets since most of the technology already exists but can’t be used because it makes equipment illegal.
Not to mention that you could truly have adjustable irons that could change loft easily so you would not need a complete set.
Make Golf Faster
The only sure fire way to get people play faster is by having it affect their pocketbook. If it cost the same to play in 3.5 hours as it does 6 hours there are people that will take 6 hours for any number of reasons. Change the fee structure to reflect pace of play.
Based on all my years in the golf business, I do believe that the vast majority of golfers prefer to play in 4 hours or less.
In order for this to happen golf course owners and managers are going to have to have a philosophy shift away from the customer is always right. If you have four slow golfers making life miserable for all the people stacked up behind them then you have to realize that you do not want or need these four customers. It’s OK to make them mad.
Pick certain days or times of day and designate these as fast play times. Pricing could be determined by each particular situation, but if a course has a reputation for fast play, the customers will line up.