Is Golf Too Hard?
There is a huge amount of discussion going on about growing the game and how we are not attracting new golfers, and losing old ones by the thousands. One of the areas receiving lots of attention is that the 4.25-inch hole makes the game too hard. Is that really it?

There have been some tournaments conducted recently with a 15-inch hole, but is that really "golf"? What do you all think?

We had a lively dinner discussion the other night about just what is it about golf that is running off some believers and making it less appealing to "newbies." The conversation ran through the usual culprits — it costs too much, it takes too much time, etc. But is that really it?

In a marketing research presentation I attended a few years ago, the researchers presented the notion that the game loses players, or fails to capture them, when it ceases to be FUN. That can mean lots of things. But when it fails to be FUN, you'll find other places for your money and time.

But does relaxing the gentlemen's dress code or rules of decorum add fun? Or does it tarnish the game for those of us already devoted to it? Call me old-fashioned, but it does bother me a bit to see guys on the course in all manner of disheveled dress and behavior — shirt tails out, music playing, etc.

And I really have a difficult time with the current fashion trend of PGA Tour players "going to work" without shaving. It just looks disrespectful to me. Disrespectful of the sponsors, the fans and of themselves. Their hosts at these fine clubs — who make it possible for these guys to play for millions of dollars — show up in blazers and ties, to watch tour players not even bother to shave.

But I digress. I do think the game has gotten too hard for too many? This infatuation with high-speed greens makes the last one hundred feet more daunting than the first 400 to 500 yards. Is that really golf? Should the chip, pitch, or putt be more challenging than the drive and approach shot that got you there?

I played a very simple little golf course in Fort Worth the other day — and had a delightful time. There was a good mix of long and short approaches, and challenging drives. I put a 4-iron or longer in my hands on six holes. But what made it fun was that this course didn't beat you up trying to save pars and keep it down to two putts per hole. And that was a change from my own club, which is extremely demanding with our undulating 11-to-12 Stimp greens.

And this club was very kid- and beginner-friendly, too, because every hole had a run-up approach possibility, which many "championship" courses lack.

I might have rambled here, but ask yourself if the course you play is really friendly to a beginner or kid. It takes a long time to develop the short game and putting skills to deal with super-fast greens and deep green-side bunkers and rough. If it isn't fun, that kid or beginner won't last long enough to get there.
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[ comments ]
Ian 666 says:
It is not golf being to hard, I play with a group that are all around the same level. Therefore we play against each other not against Par.

The Problem is we are still in a recession, cost of living has gone up money in your pocket has stayed the same.

There is not a lot of disposable income floating around. In the UK bars are closing down due lack of business, people are more cautious with there spare cash. I am fortunate to still be able to play golf 3 times a week however I'm always looking for a deal on green fees.

On the plus point Hotels are cheaper as they try and get people to stay therefore golf resorts are now in my financial reach. Staying at the Belfry next week is the cheapest I've seen it for years.
ally1957 says:
you could say this about any sport. in a few weeks we will get the British open the week after the course will be packed. with Westwood, Mcilroy, Donald, Rose Wanabee's (Alright maybe not Mcilroy and Westwood) some will take it up some won't. In soccer not enough goals being scored lets make the posts wider. or you can't play when their is snow on the ground lets play with frisbees (how do you mean they already do that. This is the game you either like it or you dont same with any sport
sparkywpg says:
If they ever make the holes 15 inches then I am done with the game. Disposable income, corporate cutbacks all have effects on golf. Golf has priced itself out for most people, green fees are a joke at some courses. We are lucky here in Manitoba, but not so lucky on the short golf season, and with having our worst winter on record, courses are way behind in growing. I love golfing in Arizona but there prices are jumping 5-20% a year it seems making it less affordable for me..dam sno-birds
parman68166 says:
Just because the golf industry isn't getting the income they feel they deserve doesn't mean that "golf is too hard," only that they have priced themselves beyond what the average golfer can afford. Can you imagine what $200 green fees look like to the average American? And let's not forget the initial out-lay to get started. Then, of course, let's not forget that society today (in general) doesn't want to work for anything, but lower the standards so it will be easier to attain. Let's hope they wake up before we lose something very special.
scottishguyiniowa says:
The main issue is definitely a lot more people have less money to spend on hobbies. I personally had to take a year out from the game because I was unemployed or in irregular employment.
2 other issues are the clique mentality and memberships getting older.
1. The cliques in some clubs make newcomers and beginners unwelcome or control the club boards enough that they will not allow beginners or young children on the course without a member accompanying them.
2. My own club's membership percentage leans heavily to older and retired people which means as time goes by these members are either going to pass on or give up the game due to being unable to play. Now these members are rarely being replaced by younger members so there will be a continual drop in membership as time goes by.
Perhaps the USGA needs to do a survey of golf clubs (or their members) in the US (and not just ask board members) and see what the range of ages playing and amount of members per clubs are.
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