Golf Gone Wild: Radical Pace of Play Remedies

The apocalypse of golf is upon us. The group in front of you takes 24 practice swings before each shot. Not only that, one of the guys breaks out his Camilo Villegas impression to read a three-footer. You can no longer play 18 holes in less than six hours. Because of the time commitment it takes to play golf, fewer people are coming to the course. Will golf be relegated to the history books if we don’t do something to speed up the game and draw in new players? That remains to be seen, but people are talking about pace of play. The result: inventive and somewhat radical ways to speed up and increase the popularity of golf.

One of the more radical ways to increase popularity of the game takes those pesky clubs completely out of the game. Foot golf is played – you guessed it – with your feet. A combination of soccer and golf, players kick the ball down the course and aim for a larger hole. Because of the emergence of soccer as the sport of choice for so many young athletes in America, foot golf is seen as a way to get children interested in and familiar with the golf course.

Another recently introduced update to golf has some golfers replacing their golf cart with a golf bike. Created specifically for golf, the bike allows the golfer to get more exercise out of a round, ride directly to his or her ball and move as fast as a golf cart. While using a golf bike doesn’t radically speed up the game, the aerobic workout it provides could draw in more players.

The simplest, but possibly most controversial change is to increase the size of the hole to 15 inches. Conceived by TaylorMade CEO Mark King, the larger hole is designed to make the game easier, faster and more rewarding to the average to below average player. Theoretically, golfers will take less time sizing up approach shots and reading greens with the 15-inch cups. Purists certainly take issue with this change to the game, but with the backing of a big brand like TaylorMade breed of golf could stick around for a while.

Whether any of these updates to golf become a national phenomenon remains to be seen, but it’s possible the game could be made better simply by respecting your fellow players on the course. If a faster group comes up, let them play through. Don’t take five minutes to read every putt. Perhaps simple golf etiquette is all it takes to get the game back to where it was. That, or it could be foot golf at a course near you!

(posted 6/24/14)

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