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Monday, June 27, 2011

5 Things We Would Change About The Game (if we could!)

1. Everyone Walks. (The only exemption is medical)

Yes, we know it's not possible in the U.S for so many reasons, most of which revolve around cart fee revenue. But, just for a moment, imagine the peace and quiet, golfers walking, good caddies, no maniacs screeching tires to get to the ball in a hurry (and then taking 3 minutes to hit it - more of that later). One of the reasons carts were introduced was to speed up play. Once and for all let's clear this up - they don't. Golfers using carts take, on average, 15 minutes more to play than their walking counterparts.

2. Simplify The Rules.

The books on the Rules of Golf and the Decisions on The Rules of Golf get thicker every year. Many of these rules get in the way of what should be a very simple game. Tee it up (behind the markers please!), hit it, find it, hit it, hole it. Simple. Since Dustin Johnson's "incident' at the trash strewn "bunker" at Whistling Straits last year we have had weird rules decisions coming at us from every angle - Harrington's ball moving one dimple, Villegas moving a divot with the ball in motion. For most of us these rules play no part in our regular game and yet I would suggest that they do keep people away from the game.

3. Let The Kids Play.

At Country Clubs all over the country, children are treated appallingly. They have to tee off just before it gets dark, they can't do this, they can't do that. Clubs need to embrace children, teach them basic etiquette (as they do in Europe) and let them go at it, regardless of the time of the day.

4. Let The Real Decision Makers Play.

We all know who they are, right? Yes, women are still treated as second class citizens in the game in the U.S. You know one of the main reasons men are playing less? Because women decide what the family does on the weekend and more are opting for something other than golf. The golf business loves to talk about this issue, but a game managed at the highest levels by men continues to pay lip service to women. You know the mentality, just make things pink and they will be happy! If the game wants to see some growth, the "pink solution" better disappear and fast!

5. Play Quicker!

Why is the game taking so long nowadays? I grew up in England where the game takes a maximum of 3 1/2 hours. America has done a stellar job in turning a morning activity into a day long slog. There are many reason for this - here a few.

a) Golf courses are longer. 40 years ago, 6,500 yards was the norm - now it is 7,000+. And handicaps are just as high as they were in the 1960s.
b) Carts are slowing the game down (See 1 above)
c) The PGA Tour (in fact all of the professional tours) have allowed 4 1/2 hours to be the norm for 2 or 3 competent players playing a medal round.  I love golf, love it, but watching Tour golf is painful to watch on television or in person (as we did last week at the U S Open). These professional laggards are making  watching golf as exciting as a root canal. As a result of the Tour slow coaches, millions of amateurs now think its okay to stalk putts from 3 angles, plumb bob, and measure their yardage down to the nearest inch. Well, none of these are acceptable to amateurs! Get a move on. Play ready golf. Call it what you will but for God's sake "you're away!" 18 holes should never take more than 4 hours, never!

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