for those of us who play the game it is a special experience.
just walking on the grass can relax you. for me just walking on the grass takes me a million miles away from the day to day issues that I am worrying about. for me it is an experience that almost brings the same benefits that meditation or mindfulness do.
the walk can be good exercise too. 18 holes is equal to more than 4 miles of walking.
the game also presents an opportunity to develop friendships and new relationships. my Dad used to tell me that he never did business with someone until he had played a round of golf with him. the reason being is that you get a real good sense of a person, including their values, demeanor, and how they handle adversity.
in addition the challenge that the game presents attracts many of us.
this past weekend was no exception for me.
in the Long Beach/Los Angeles area of Southern California the weather was beautiful. the day before the solar eclipse saw a few scattered cumulus clouds to add excitement to an otherwise clear blue sky. a healthy breeze coming off the ocean made playing in the mid 70’s very pleasant.
many of the professionals play the “new ball” — the one that goes further — specifically the Titleist Pro V 1 ball. I am told that for every ball they sell it costs them $.30 to make, but they sell it for $ 3.33. this amounts to $1 Billion in profit from golf ball sales each year.
needless to say, Titleist does not want anything to happen that will in any way jeopardize that annual profit. apparently this has gotten to the point that Titleist has told the PGA that if they change the standards of the ball in order to reduce the distance they travel, that Tiitleist will sue them for the lost profit for the next 10 years, or for $10 Billion. the PGA apparently has blinked.
so, Patrick Cantlay who is on the pro tour and plays out of my golf club — the Virginia Country Club, plays our toughest hole which is 438 yards long by hitting a four hybrid club off the tee followed by an eight iron to the green. most of us mortals are hitting a full driver off the tee, followed by a hybrid 4 club. the picture below was taken when Patrick won the low amateur at the Masters tournament. shown here with his coach, Jamie Mullilgan, who is also the professional at the Virginia Country Club, and he is also my golf coach.
to add the distance that the really good players demand would take another 10 acres of land. assuming a cost of $2 million per acre in today’s prices, that would amount to $20 million additional cost to acquire the land necessary to add the distances required by the best players.
this comes at a time when the game of golf is losing customers. yes, losing golf devotees. in the last 10 years 20% ( or 5 million golfers) of the 30 million golfers left the game. quit. the main reasons less people are playing golf today are the time it takes to play the game and the cost.
think about this. if we add distances to the existing courses we will add to the time that it takes to play a round of 18 holes. it will also will add cost, as outlined above.
so that does not make any sense. it does not address the reasons that less people are playing golf today.
I think that Jack Nicklaus’s solution is the one that makes the most sense. but no one else agrees with me. I have not found one golfer who likes his idea.
Jack has suggested three changes. one, that the number of holes in a round of golf be reduced from 18 to 12. this obviously directly deals with the issue of the time it takes to play a round of golf. it also deals with the issue of length of the course, because existing layouts of 18 holes can be reconfigured to 12 and thereby lengthening some of the holes as needed. rounds of golf could be completed in two and half hours.
his second suggestion is that on each hole there be a number of tees, so that there is more choice on what length of hole and in turn what length of course each player wants to play. now, on most courses there are three tees on each hole. a back (or often called black) tee for the longer hitters, a shorter or red tee (sometimes called women’s tee), and a middle or white or club tee in between. some of us, as we get older do not enjoy hitting hybrids into every hole. we would love the opportunity to hit an eight iron into the hole once in a while. so, the introduction of more tee boxes would be welcome by many.
the third suggestion, which is very unpopular with the traditionalists (that means almost every golfer I know) is to change the diameter of the cup. yes, make the cup bigger. the cup today is 4.25″ in diameter. Jack has suggested it be enlarged to approximately 9″, more than double its current size. it will obviously speed up the game dramatically. and I believe it will make it more fun. more people will enjoy the pleasure of making a putt from time to time.
I love Jack’s idea. in part because this weekend, I played a good round of golf for me. I shot an 80, nine over par. this is exactly my handicap. however, three of those shots over par were putts of less than 3 feet in length! yes, siree. so, you can see why I could use a larger cup.
what do you think about Jack’s idea?