Bigger Golf Holes – Prank or Fact?

Bigger Cup Sizes…really?


image credit: © Lane Osborne. All Rights Reserved.

In short, here’s how it goes:

Problem: The golf industry has lost about 5 million golfers in the past decade. According to recent statistics from the National Golf Foundation.

Solution: Let’s make it easier for golfers in order to get back old advocates and attract new comers to the sport; let´s make the hole from 4.5” to 15” holes.

When I first heard this, I thought it was an April Fools Day prank so I said “Yeah right and make the Par 3 holes Par 5 ”.

Well, turns out this is more a serious consideration than a prank.

In fact this idea came to mind as a TaylorMade and Adidas proposal for an experiment. Which already took place at the Reynolds Plantation Resort in Greensboro, GA back in April 2014, as an exhibition match with the featured participation of pro players Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.

But this initiative does not stop there. They’re actally planning to take this pilot experiment across the US and Canada at about 100 golf courses.

Even PGA’s President Ted Bishop backed up ideas like this by saying “We’ve got to stop scaring people away from golf by telling them that there is only one way to play the game and it includes these specific guidelines… We’ve got to offer more forms of golf for people to try.”

“We’ve got to stop scaring people away from golf by telling them that there is only one way to play the game and it includes these specific guidelines… We’ve got to offer more forms of golf for people to try.”

I mean really? Do you think that is a solution to bring more people to the game? In my opinion it is not. Maybe as a special event, or during certain seasonal occasions having to putt into golf cups that fit a basketball may be fun. Heck we’ve all had the mini-golf experience and enjoyed it just for the fun of it, but you surely don’t take it seriously.

And if this flies as a permanent thing, what’s next? A mulligan on every hole? Two-base baseball matches in 100 yard fields? 50 feet soccer goal nets with no goalie?

I may agree that making the hole maybe… double the size, like 8” or 9” ? could be something many of us be smiling about. But 15-inch golf holes the size of pizzas?? Come on!!

If they want to pump up the game with more players, why don’t they first approach the reasons that have to do with money? I mean golf is still considered by many as an expendable luxury. And taking into consideration that the U.S. economy has been passing through a rough patch in the last 6 or 7 years, you just can’t ignore that fact into consideration as part of the abandonment.

Before coming up with gimmick solutions to attract more golfers, I think questions like the following should be addressed:

Why is golf equipment so expensive? (I mean, there are $500 dollar drivers and $4 dollar golf balls available you know); Why do green fees cost more than $20 dls. in many courses? Why is golf still such an elite sport in many places?

There are other considerations that already been inquired, and 3 of the top reasons people do not play or leave the game are the following:

  • Too long to play
  • Too many rules
  • Too difficult to learn

I would start by saying that a better solution to bring more players to golf is to do something about the prices of equipment, and be more flexible in other rules. I might suggest things like:

  • Have a 1 out-of-bounds-break on each hole without penalty.
  • Make the One-club-length rule a permanent one, not just for friendly games.
  • On dropped ball penalties, you can put the ball wherever you like in a 3 feet radius, instead of dropping it from your extended arm.
  • If the ball is not on grass or sand, you can move it to the nearest patch of grass no nearer to the hole than the original position.
  • No 14 club limit in your bag
  • Reduce 18 holes to 12 or 10.

I could get very creative with this you know, and I’m sure you could as well.

Besides, if bigger golf cup sizes attracted some newbie players, they can also scare away some serious players. And another thing, if suddenly you become a good golfer because of this, the following scenario could take place:

– So how good of a golfer are you?

– Well I´m pretty good, I have a 5 handicap

– Really? Oh, but on a regular course or on the new 15-inch-hole ones?

And thus, the old regular scheme will remain in memory for decades to come. Old glory of amazing shots in 4.5″ hole courses will haunt you and make you feel like your new scores and handicap are from a cheater.

Anyways, here’s an interesting video made by the South California Golf Association that seems to convey positive expectations from a few players:

The 15-Inch Hole

In conclusion

I would personally like to play in one of those courses just to see how much my score can improve, but I certainly wouldn’t want it to be a permanent format of the game. And may I remind you that I am a regular weekend golfer with an 18 handicap?

For the full story by the NY Times of the exhibition match at the Reynolds Plantation Resort click here


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