5 Things Wrong With Golf

5ThingsWrongWithGolf

Let’s not beat around the bush – there are inherent problems with golf that are rarely discussed. Now I’m not going to try and solve any of this stuff in one post, but I do intend to address them in hopes of beginning a conversation around what (if anything) can be done to change this game for the better. People in the industry are always talking about needing to grow the game. Perhaps we should start by considering the five 800-pound gorillas below.

1. The Cost
It shouldn’t be any surprise to see “cost” on this list. There is perhaps no greater turn-off to people than how much money it takes to play this game. The top brands push the most expensive equipment and apparel on us – from advertising to in-store displays. Where is the section of $25 Nike golf shirts? Or the $100 Taylor Made drivers? (Not even last year’s model will be that cheap). Why do we have to spend half a grand just to have an “average” set of new irons? Retailers and brands say they are helping us to become better golfers, but all they are doing is helping us hand over our hard-earned cash with minimal results in return. We all know the formula to playing better golf: Talent and practice – preferably lots of both. Money isn’t part of that formula and it’s time the industry stops pretending that it is.

2. The PGA Tour
I am not denying the tour is an integral part of golf. Without it, the game would surely suffer both economically and in popularity. But it is sorely in need of a makeover – preferably with its schedule. First, the season is far too long with barely an “off-season” for fans to recoup mentally. It makes sense from both a business perspective (TV ratings and tournament sponsorships) and the fans’ perspective (being mentally engaged) that the season be condensed to 6 months or less. Second, the lack of a proper end to the season. The FedEx Cup is an attempt to provide that grand finale we all want, but it’s not working. Perhaps a shortened season will help, but the end to the tour’s year needs to be defined much better than it currently is.

3. The Rulebook
This is tricky because I don’t want to change the fundamental way we play golf. But there are things in the rulebook that are hindering the expansion of the game. There are too many nuances to consider; too many cans and cant’s; too many caveats that require too much referencing back and forth before a complete understanding of the rule can be fully grasped (especially for new players). What we need is a simplified rulebook for casual play. We average golfers do this already (who really walks all the way back to the tee to re-hit after losing a drive)? Let organized tournaments continue to use the present book. But for the recreational golfer…please, give us some relief.

4. The Courses
Specifically, there are too many of them. What the hell is this country doing with 17,000 golf courses? The answer: Wasting space. The reality is we built too many courses over the past few decades and the result is too much supply and not enough demand. The herd could use some thinning and the good news is this thinning has already begun…compliments of the recession. While some watch with a wary eye over the fact that more courses are closing than opening in the U.S., economists know this is ultimately a good sign. Thinning the herd will result in higher quality courses, far better equipped to meet the needs of the individual golfer. And that will bode well for both new and current players alike.

5. The Focus
If there’s one thing we stand for here at GolfStinks, it’s that this game is meant to be fun. But in every corner of the golf industry, the main focus is on making people better players, rather than helping them enjoy themselves. Now I understand that some people can’t enjoy themselves unless they are better than everyone else, but those folks are in the minority. The vast majority intend to have fun when golfing – typically through camaraderie or enjoying the outdoors, with the final score being secondary. Yet the gravitational pull from the industry to consistently focus on becoming a better golfer is hard to ignore. Until there is a shift in focus from “playing well” while on the course to “feeling well” while on the course, golfers will continue to struggle with that love/hate relationship they have with this game.

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Comments

  1. Greg D’Andrea makes excellent points and is 100% on target with his above criticisms of the golf industry. However, he missed one of the most challenging aspects of why golf is falling flat with younger people and one of the biggest problems with the way it’s set up: LENGTH OF PLAY!
    Golf clubs and courses need to think creatively to develop ways to get people who watch the PGA Tour, play the EA Sports Tiger Woods games and know in their heart they would enjoy it, but can’t find the time to spend 4 — 5 hours per week at one time outside the house, even on a weekend. Anyone with an iota of common business sense knows that younger people need to be engaged and encouraged if the industry is going to survive into the next generation and continuing to focus on the retiree or empty-nester with plenty of free time is a recipie for further decline.
    How about this: Public golf courses start offering weekday evening 3 or 6 hole plays with free club rentals? The courses get to use up that daylight in the summer that goes wasted under current 9 or 18 hole formats, the new players and potential new players who aren’t sure about golf in general (and to whom the expense — as D’Andrea notes — is another primary obstacle) will have fewer excuses for not getting out there, the courses make a little extra cash and we all have more fun!

    • Joe – thanks for the comment! Slow play is definitely a problem too (I probably could write a follow-up with 5 more soon)! Lighter rules for casual play should help with that, but you’re right, 4 – 5 hours is a long time (for kids especially).

  2. Golf Stinks,
    I couldn’t agree with you more about the average person wanting to enjoy themselves more. Have you ever heard the saying, enjoys misery. I believe teaching does the same thing. Check out my article on scoring: http://imakegolfeasy.com/2014/03/

  3. In addition to the FIVE, may I suggest a simple one – lack of provision for the non golfing partner.
    I dont mean stuck in a luxury hotel, reading a kindle or something. How long can a person spend in a Spa?
    By improving and providing for non golfers then they are happier and makes the golfer enjoy their golf better.
    Thats what we do here in the South of France

  4. Ted B. (Charging Rhino) says:

    From the player’s perspective; getting away from a strokeplay-only mentality should be encouraged for the recreational golfer. Match-play and Stableford singles and team-play should be promoted as the ordinary golfers’ game…the Scots mostly matchplay amongst themselves. It’s faster since everyone doesn’t have to putt-out, and one bad hole can’t sink your whole round.
    And more golfers should both be ‘playing it forwards’ and playing ready-golf..especially on the greens. Please putt-out the short shots, don’t mark and lift and make the next player putt when you’re 18-inches from the hole. It just takes time that you’ll never make-up. The same with “respecting the honor” and farthest-from-the-hole plays first”. If you’re ready, play!!

    The course operators need to encourage more 9-hole rounds with lunch-time and after-work specials…especially those with double-nines routings.

  5. I don’t want to sound like I am advertising, but in the interest of putting forth a concrete solution to 1) cost too much, 2) takes too much time and 3) too hard to learn – I need to point out that there is technology available today that will stop a hook and slice and enable ANY golfer to hit almost all fairways (Polara Golf balls http://www.polaragolf.com).
    A bigger cup will make the game more fun for some and enable faster play, but you still have to drive the ball and many golfers have a slice problem.

    As for the rules – check out http://www.usrga.com they have rules that are easy to understand and follow and reflect how 85% of golfers already play the game.

  6. John Kelly says:

    I would like to see some modifications to the official set of rules for recreational golf tournaments. Rules that would make it more fun to play. I hate the awful idea of a 15″ hole. I would rather see a white circle, 15″ in diameter, around the hole; if your ball comes to rest in the circle, pick it up and add 1 stroke, the next putt is good — unless you try to make it. Play could be accelerated by minimizing rough, clearing out all the underbrush so you can find your ball fast, etc.. How about 9 hole Fridays or Sundays where you can play 9 holes anytime from early morning to late in the day; play in less than 2 hours and you get a $ rebate. It would make it less costly and less time consuming, I don’t want to have to run around the course but I don’t want to spend the entire day waiting on the tee. The golf course needs to be pro-active when it comes to people that are playing too slow or teeing down on people. A zero tolerance policy and an effective means to implement it needs to be defined, documented and posted.

  7. I have a brilliant solution because we couldn’t agree more that we all LOVE the game of GOLF but the bussiness side and format of golf needs a dramatic change. Are rules are simple, if you got game…we got your league! Only requirements are skill and hard work. No more exclusion it’s time to be inclusive to ANYBODY with game! 49 Pro Golf Teams competing across the nation against each other in a 9 hole non-elimination match play. You make the team you have NO COSTS!! We want the best local players in your area to come try out. With 400+ courses on board and growing daily all over the country you meaning ANYBODY can come try out during weekends and week nights for the lowest tee fees and compete against the best in your area. email my for further question and check the website out for more details. Tee’em high n let’em fly!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] The USGA rulebook isn’t for leisure golfers.I discussed in a post recently that there wanted to be a simplified rulebook for informal golfers. Mr. Felker agrees and means […]

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