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In a Hole, Golf Courses Experiment With 15-inch Holes 405

Posted by timothy
from the more-like-a-hole-in-zero dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "According to the National Golf Foundation, golf has lost five million players in the last decade with 20 percent of the existing 25 million golfers apt to quit in the next few years. Now Bill Pennington writes that golf courses across the country are experimenting with 15 inch golf holes the size of pizzas to stop people from quitting the game. "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," says Ted Bishop, president of the PGA of America. "We've got to offer more forms of golf for people to try. We have to do something to get them into the fold, and then maybe they'll have this idea it's supposed to be fun." A 15-inch-hole event was held at the Reynolds Plantation resort last week featuring top professional golfers Sergio García and Justin Rose, the defending United States Open champion. "A 15-inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers score better, play faster and like golf more," says García, who shot a six-under-par 30 for nine holes in the exhibition. Another alternative is foot golf, in which players kick a soccer ball from the tee to an oversize hole, counting their kicks. Still it is no surprise that not everyone agrees with the burgeoning alternative movement to make golf more user-friendly. "I don't want to rig the game and cheapen it," says Curtis Strange, a two-time United States Open champion and an analyst for ESPN. "I don't like any of that stuff. And it's not going to happen either. It's all talk.""
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In a Hole, Golf Courses Experiment With 15-inch Holes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:16AM (#46803793)

    How did this get posted? Golf??!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:18AM (#46803803)
      It's a lot like software. There's a large solution space but only a few valid solutions and a lot of traps. There's an enormous amount of rules, lots of tools that all look the same but aren't. The people dress poorly but are quite rich.
      • yeah, but its outside directly under the sun......
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          yeah, but its outside directly under the sun......

          Cue the sweaty fatbodies claiming golf is a "sport" and golfers are somehow "athletes".

          You had to walk between holes, big whoop. Walking only seems hard when you're fat and have to waddle side to side, shuffling around like a fucked up duck.

          • whats your definition of a sport?
            • by gnupun (752725)
              Something requiring human strength, speed and skill (coordination).
              • thats very limiting. human strength and speed and skill don't always go together. Golf has a high level of skill but you don't have to be very strong or fast. Some sports have participants that have one or more of those 3 attributes but not all in the same package.
            • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:53AM (#46804143)
              A sport, by definition, is any form of physical activity that aims to use, maintain and improve physical ability or skills for the purpose of entertainment of participants and/or spectators. If you think walking even factors in to the experience of playing golf, I suggest you go out and try it yourself. It's one of the hardest sports to play well, requiring a mixture of concentration, extreme coordination and practice to even be decent. Walking, which isn't even a required aspect of the sport thanks to these things you may have heard of called "golf carts", isn't even tough - the difficulty is in hitting the ball at the proper trajectory, without slicing it, with the correct amount of power (taking into account which club you're using), most of which is dependent on the course layout. Complaining about walking and being out in the sun is just absurd when the walking part is entirely optional, and is like complaining about the fact that you need to stand on the sideline while playing football (you can sit, either on the grass or on the bench).
              • by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:31AM (#46804801) Homepage
                I don't know about calling it a sport still. For me, it falls into the same categorization as bowling, darts, and billiards. That isn't to say that golf, along with those other sports don't require a huge amount of skill, but I would hesitate to lump them into the same category as soccer, basketball, hockey, cycling, running, and other more physically exerting sports. This same kind of thing comes up when equating Starcraft with real sports, calling it an e-sport. Sure there are certain physical characteristics one must possess, but that doesn't mean it should be lumped into the same category.

                Also, in the PGA, they are not allowed golf carts. There was, as far as I'm aware, only a single golfer [wikipedia.org] allowed to use a golf cart, because he had a physical disability. So, although golf carts may be used by amateurs and weekend warriors, that doesn't really mean it's part of the game. Just as there are oversized clubs that once can use that aren't tournament legal. If players want to make up their own rules amongst themselves, nobody is going to stop them. In recreational golf, it's not uncommon for players to take a mulligan, or stop counting when they get more than a double bogey.

                If anything people aren't leaving because the game is too hard, but because the game is just too expensive. People have found other things to spend their money on. I've heard that cycling is turning into the new golf. Sure you can spend tons of money on the equipment, just like golf, but it's free once you own the equipment. People see very little value in paying for country club memberships as many of the people who now have money are don't care about the whole socialization aspect of it.
            • I consider games like golf and chess skills rather than sports. To me, sports rely more on athletic factors like speed and strength. Sports competitions are more likely to be divided by sexes (chess shouldn't be) and/or weight classes. Skills competitions shouldn't require divisions by sex or size.

              It's a blurry line I have drawn for myself but, right or wrong, that is how I feel about it. I should probably duck now.

              • I consider games like golf and chess skills rather than sports. To me, sports rely more on athletic factors like speed and strength.

                And coordination. Golf doesn't require much of the first two (although it does take some upper body strength to hit those long drives) but requires the third in spades. Golf is a sport.

                It's a blurry line I have drawn for myself but, right or wrong

                I think the line is fairly clear. Is there a physical component or is it purely mental? An easy to use, sensible guideline. Gol

            • by tsqr (808554) on Monday April 21, 2014 @10:02AM (#46805033)

              whats your definition of a sport?

              A game in which the spectators are able to scream at the top of their lungs, throw cups of beer at the officials, blast air horns, toot vuvuzelas, and/or wave fun noodles while the contestants are trying to concentrate on scoring points. Golf, tennis, and bowling are examples of competitive games that could be considered sports if one or more of these elements were present.

    • It's a coded message from the resistence, 15-inch Hole is clearly a reference to Beta.
    • by LookIntoTheFuture (3480731) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:26AM (#46803829)

      15 inch holes

      Is goatse.cx the connection? It's goatse.cx isn't it?

    • Perhaps increasing wealth inequality means that people have less disposable income and choose to spend their money elsewhere than golf?
    • Golf, is a low impact sport, where you can get good exercise but not seem like a jock.

      However I don't think it is the size of the hole is the major factor. That is why we have handicap levels.

      But the following:
      1. Cost of equipment. Paying more then $100 to start a sport, makes entry difficult.
      2. Size of equipment. A golf bag, fills a significant portion of your cars trunk, or you need a place to store it off season.
      3. Golf Greens, often require you to pre-plan a Tee time, often you may need to join a club

  • by CaptainOfSpray (1229754) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:20AM (#46803805)
    My Dad used to take me to play pitch-and-putt (nine short holes, played with a 9-iron and a putter). One day when I was 9, we were both having an awful round, and I said "Dad, this is a bloody frustrating game". He replied "Yup, that's why I gave it up in 1932". I got the point, and have never been back since.
    • by Archtech (159117) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:18AM (#46803997)

      Golf certainly is frustrating. That's quite deliberate, as it makes excelling very difficult and thus worthwhile. Think of it as like a Scottish martial art... taking years to become fairly proficient, and never being sure of reaching that elusive perfection.

      But golf is also a spiritual discipline. It teaches you self-control, patience, and sportsmanship. Witness the far better behaviour of professional golfers, compared to soccer players and many other sportsmen.

    • by flyneye (84093) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:23AM (#46804021) Homepage

      I have given much consideration to golf over the years. My experiences include; nearly having my windshield taken out driving down a city street and evolving my own golf game, played from my car, in which I wait till I see someone putting or driving and honk my car horn just in time to fuck up their shot.I went to a driving range once and put my back out of alignment on a bucket of balls. NO LOVE!

                It has occurred to me that the sissy ass game of golf neednt waste so much real estate on a dying form. Merely create a hybrid sport to bring the masses in and make the greenskeeper earn his damn money. I propose ACTION GOLF: No clubs, instead, you are equipped with a potato gun and a can of hairspray. Helmets will be worn, FORE! will be shouted into a bullhorn, previous to any shot. Any discrepancies in score or disagreements will result in a round of fire based on the paintball sport. This is now a game for Vikings, not old men! Putters will be reminded that the hole already exists and creating your own through gunfire doesnt count.
      PLAY GOLF!

    • by msauve (701917) on Monday April 21, 2014 @08:43AM (#46804355)
      Golf is simply "flog" spelled backwards.
  • by Jack Griffin (3459907) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:22AM (#46803811)
    Maybe it is less about the size of the hole and more to do with the absurd amount of money and time is cost to play the sport? I had a few games once, the money I could probably afford, but I simply don't have the time to spend hours on a golf course every week...
    • by jythie (914043) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:33AM (#46803853)
      The high cost used to be offset by the status associated with the game, but it just isn:t the symbol of wealth and refinement that it used to be. Thus I suspect giant holes will not help much.

      That being said, are we sure this is not some kind of joke or hoax? This reads like something from The Onion....
    • While I could probably spend the hours, I just don't find the cost justified. I'd rather take some of the younger ones in our family to a putt-putt/minigolf.

      I think it's also a bit of perception - most of the time you find a golf scene in a movie/TV show, it will generally be older people (read: men), often in business, more than well off, and generally not about the game itself but about the networking that happens while at the game. I'm inclined that it's that aspect that they're really trying to save,

      • Mad Men summed it up well after the lawn mower incident. The partners decide his career is over because he will no longer be able to golf.
    • by ad454 (325846) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:38AM (#46803873)

      Not to mention the horrible amount of water, fertilisers, pesticides, and land tracts golf courses require for their "prefect" greens. Heck, with so many people using golf carts, and caddies carrying golf bags, most people playing golf aren't even getting sufficient exercise.

      Mini golf, and basically every other non-motorised sport, are by far much more environmentally friendly then golf.

      In many places, it is known as the sport of the "white old mens club" (figure of speech) or the 1%, because of the restricted club memberships, expensive green fees, and huge variation in equipment costs, which can be in the thousands of dollars for a single decent club.

      • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:00AM (#46804507)

        In many places, it is known as the sport of the "white old mens club" (figure of speech) or the 1%, because of the restricted club memberships, expensive green fees, and huge variation in equipment costs, which can be in the thousands of dollars for a single decent club.

        Except most public course have fees that are $20 per person, maybe $30 if you get a cart, and a decent set of clubs will run you a couple hundred dollars retail. Sure, if you want to play at places like Pebble Beach or Augusta National it will cost a ton of money (if you even have the handicap to get in), but there are many golf courses out there that are very affordable.

    • Time is the biggest factor for me, a 5-6 hour block on the weekends is too large of a commitment I have stuff to do around the house, attend my kids sporting events, or some social function, I just can't commit that much time. If I could get a round in in 2-3 hours I would defiantly go more often.
      • by Nidi62 (1525137)

        If I could get a round in in 2-3 hours I would defiantly go more often.

        If you tee off at 8 or 9 am, you can be off the course by noon assuming you don't play really slow. Also, for some reason courses are less crowded that time of day. It's even better in summer since you get off before the day gets too hot.

    • by krygny (473134)

      Golf's not really much more expensive than other common recreational activities. More than some, less than most. Skiing, boating, hunting, fishing, tennis, RV-ing, etc. Golf doesn't require a large up-front investment nor travel. And as for the time spent playing it, I think you're not quite getting the whole recreation thing.

      • I do get the recreation thing. I just don't get where golfing gets into the recreation thing.

        Sorry, but hitting a ball and then spending the rest of the afternoon finding it again is not relaxing. It's somewhere between boring and frustrating, depending on how long it takes to find that little white thing again.

  • Not a fan, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MidnightBrewer (97195) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:27AM (#46803833)

    Golf is about getting your balls into the hole in as few strokes as possible. It's as simple as that.

    I'm not a golf guy, but I can appreciate that the original game is fine the way it is. Seriously, 15-inch holes aren't going to magically enable you to get a hole-in-one. The challenge of hitting the traditional hole is something I respect; making it feel like I have training wheels on to pander to me is just going to alienate me further. I think most prefer things tight, not loose. You have to feel like you've succeeded.

    • by gnupun (752725)
      Yeah, pizza-hole golf is the equivalent to dumbing down school kids by eliminating cursive writing (common core). Birdies are going to become very common. A whole bunch of (possibly evil) idiots are ruining everything out there.
      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        Yeah, pizza-hole golf is the equivalent to dumbing down school kids by eliminating cursive writing (common core). Birdies are going to become very common. A whole bunch of (possibly evil) idiots are ruining everything out there.

        Yeah, abandoning cursive writing will doom this country. Cursive has been dead for years. In my own case, the last time I wrote cursive was in 4th grade back in the 1960's, when I took my last test in penmanship. Might as well say that no one can write any more since we abandoned typewriters. But your ability to equate cursive writing with 15 inch golf holes does show creativity on your part.

        You can do better with that than make false equivalences.

      • by PvtVoid (1252388) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:16AM (#46804647)

        Yeah, pizza-hole golf is the equivalent to dumbing down school kids by eliminating cursive writing (common core).

        Also, our precious bodily fluids. Don't forget the threat from dumbed-down golf and the Common Core to our precious bodily fluids.

    • by donaldm (919619)

      Golf is about getting your balls into the hole in as few strokes as possible. It's as simple as that.

      You have got in one (pardon the pun).

      One thing I like about golf is the fact that it can be played by people, male or female of all ages and you get a reasonable workout, especially if you play the full 18 holes. Of course the 19th hole is usually the more interesting :).

      (FTA) “A 15-inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers score better, play faster and like golf more,”. What rubbish the whole idea of any game is to provide a challenge and this also includes vi

    • Golf is about getting your balls into the hole in as few strokes as possible. It's as simple as that.

      Now read this phrase from a sexual perspective, imagine the CEOs and the like actually doing it.

  • experimenting with 15 inch golf holes the size of pizzas to stop people from quitting the game.

    Why not make the entire green the hole? People would never be able to quit.

  • by Stickerboy (61554) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:34AM (#46803857) Homepage

    Making an easy mode golf will surely bring people back to the expensive courses, like Reynolds Plantation resort! In fact, they should invent a throwing golf - Americans like throwing things - they could even use some sort of flattened plastic disc, to make it more aerodynamic. If only golf would be more innovative like that, people would flock to play golf!

    Sarcasm aside, my friends and I never cared about how "hard" golf was. In fact, most of the charm of actually going out and playing was laughing about how bad we all were. We don't go back very often because most of us can think of 30 or 40 other things that we'd rather be doing for those 6 hour consecutive stretches on a weekend.

  • by JavaBear (9872) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:36AM (#46803861)

    Because "dumbing down the game" have worked SO well for Blizzard and World of Warcraft..

    I'm being sarcastic.

    • The sad part is that it DID work for WoW. What's even sadder is that as usual everyone feels the pressing urge to follow the herd leader (because you sure as fuck get everyone who quits WoW because they were fed up with "if you can breathe regularly and not fall asleep during the raid you get your prize" dungeons if you take that as an incentive to dumb down your dungeons as well).

      By making everyone a winner, you make the winner a loser. Sadly, there are more losers than winners, and hence it works.

  • They lost me when they called golf a sport.
    • its more of a sport than gymnastics or ice dancing..
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      it used to be before the players all got lazy and now drive from hole to hole. real golfers walk and carry their bag, the lazy poesurs drive and have their caddy carry the bag from the cart to them and then back again.

  • Won't help much if the game is just boring to people and/or expensive. Now if you told everyone to wear protective body armor when going out on the green and start aiming at each other then maybe you'd get your numbers up.

  • and in the future it won't be this big... but it will continue to exist just as it did for hundreds of years.

    Golf is fine... but its peaked as a sport and will now decline.

  • by Afty0r (263037) on Monday April 21, 2014 @06:52AM (#46803927) Homepage

    Wonder why - the most expensive popular sport in existence is losing millions of players, right around the time that the income of the group most associated with playing golf is dipping dramatically...

    Maybe if Sherlock were here he could figure out why?

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      Cycling is a lot more expensive than golf, and seems to be the new wealthy middle-class beer belly sport.

      I've been riding a bike for more than 30 years, and I can't tell how how different it looks at the parking lot today - middle-aged men, 20lbs or more overweight, showing up in $100,000 cars with $25,000 bikes that they haven't ridden since last week's group ride, and every kind of electronic bike gadget you can imagine dangling off of them. They're there to show off their affluence and to compete with ea

      • I've been riding a bike for more than 30 years...

        Since before it was cool? No doubt on a bike brand that we probably wouldn't have heard of?

        ...and I can't tell how how different it looks at the parking lot today - middle-aged men, 20lbs or more overweight, showing up in $100,000 cars with $25,000 bikes...

        Leaving aside for a moment the complaints about people spending more money on their toys than you've spent on your car/house/whatever, are you seriously complaining that the middle-aged men with beer bellies are actually getting out and doing something active? Even if they're not very good at it? (And if they aren't, how are they going to get better at it, except through practice?)

        It's easy enough to flip this around:

  • We have to do something to get them into the fold, and then maybe they'll have this idea it's supposed to be fun."

    That's the real money quote right there. Golf is fun? Minigolf while drunk is fun. Standing in the sun playing one of the slowest and least exciting games of precision is a challenge open to the dedicated, it's a problem to be solved, it's done to prove something to someone. I have never considered this "sport" fun.

    Mind you I also find fishing incredibly boring. Maybe I don't have the patience for slow games like this, but really there's better things I could be doing, and I'm not the only one who has this

  • by floobedy (3470583) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:04AM (#46803955)

    I'm an avid sailor, and the same discussion is being had in the sport of sailing. The sport of sailing is in rapid decline, at least in the US. It's far less popular than it was 30 years ago. Most of the people who do it are baby boomers who will soon retire from it.

    There is great consternation within the sport of sailing about what can be done to save it, but really, nothing can be done. The sport is not appropriate for the times.

    It's not a matter of cost. Sports like golf, sailing, lawn bowling, and other sports which are in rapid decline can be done affordably. Sailing, for example, is cheaper than ever because more and more used sailboats are dumped on the market every year (fiberglass sailboats almost never wear out).

    The pace of life has changed. That is the issue. Young people, who've been reared on dizzyingly fast-paced entertainment such as first-person shooter games, are not thrilled at the idea of racing at five miles per hour (or sometimes less) in a sailboat for four hours. Nor do they find it exciting to play shuffleboard or do golf. By the standards of today, those sports are boring.

    Nothing should be done to make golf or sailing more interesting for younger people. It won't help to make golf holes bigger. The only way to make these sports more interesting is to make them drastically faster paced, which will ruin them for the people who enjoy them now. These sports should just accept unpopularity.

    • Sailing is not a sport, its an activity. Sailboat RACING might be a sport, but putting around on your boat is not.
  • by Peter Simpson (112887) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:09AM (#46803969)
    I can't find a link, so I'll summarize:

    Char 1: whatcha doin'?
    Char 2: Playing golf.
    Char 1: What's the object of the game?
    Char 2: Get this little white ball in that hole over there.
    Char 1: [picks up ball, walks over to hole, drops it in hole] Stupid game.
  • Softball (Score:5, Interesting)

    by _Ludwig (86077) on Monday April 21, 2014 @07:18AM (#46803995) Journal

    15" holes seem pretty ridiculous, considering you still have to get to the green. Accurate drives and knowing how to deal with situational shots comprise at least half the difficulty of golf. Nobody takes a mulligan on a missed putt, they take them when they slice a shot onto the next fairway over or into a water hazard or whiff it entirely and launch a clump of divot instead of the ball.

    But no one derides amateur softball players for not hitting 85 mph pitches or being able to throw out a runner at first with a bullet from 130' away. What might make golf more accessible is building smaller 9-hole courses heavy on par-threes with more forgiving hazards and flatter greens. Less of a time commitment, cheaper due to faster turnover... Change the name somewhat (Golf-lite? Softgolf?) so as to defuse objections from people who want to maintain “pure golf’s” identity as is.

    • That's what I found, as well. Putting is relatively easy to learn compared to driving (at least at a reasonable distance), and if they want to reduce difficulty, they should be building smaller, easier courses instead of messing with the size of the hole.
      • Well, when driving is so hard, maybe eliminate it altogether in the spirit of making the sport more accessible. Just down to putting. Maybe put a few funny obstacles between the point where you start playing and the hole, you know, just to make it fun.

    • by labnet (457441)

      Great suggestions ludwig.
      I've also found golf attracts anal retentives, making a round a chore rather than some fun. Not much you can do about them though.

    • I seem to have the opposite experience. When I go golfing with people (rarely), hitting the green is pretty easy. Every one then get's 2 or 3 tries at the putt, then just gives up, picks up the ball. Frankly, I see no reason to change hole size, because we already treat it as two games. Hitting the green is golf. Trying to get the ball in the hole is a the other game of "@&#$ing stupid %#! son of a @*%@# get in the $%&#ing hole... awww ^*@& it, next fairway..."

      The issue for me is spending

  • The top competitor of Golf, Football reacted immediately and reduced the first down yardage to 10 feet. Spokesman for NFL said, "young people these days have lots of thumb power, quick button pressing abilities, but not much else. So to attract them we are reducing the first down yardage". Baseball announced that they are introducing a sister franchise, Major League T-Ball.

    Knowing the things that fail in the West make an aggressive move in the Asian markets, Cricket too announced pre emptive measures. It h

  • A 15-inch-hole event was held at the Reynolds Plantation resort last week...

    How about instead of screwing around with the size of the holes, you just stop naming your golf courses after something that's basically synonymous with the 200yr holocaust that was slavery? It doesn't help that if you're not white you have to call the course up ahead of time to make sure they'll let you in.

  • I don't think I'd try golf, even watered down. I'm a hiker. I can have fun walking around and toting a heavy bag without a little white ball anywhere in the picture, and it's a lot cheaper. Besides, I go hiking to get away from the folks who are only out there to suck up to a client or boss. I'm with Sam Clemens, who observed that golf is a good walk spoilt.
  • Just go play disc golf! Lots of fun, just as much exercise, and free (in most locations) to play. Also, *WAY* cheaper to get into than buying or renting clubs!
  • Top Golf [topgolf.com] has a number of different computerized games you can play, all involving driving. Pricey, but I guess it could be fun if you're competent enough to drive a golf ball. (Turns out I'm not. Heh.)
  • They could replace the hole with a net. Then instead of a golf ball, golfers could throw a plastic disc. They could call it, oh, wait, nevermind.

  • My grandfather asked me to go golfing with him when I was about 7. There was some conversation among the adults concluding that, based on my age only, I was a hazard to the green and therefore would have to just watch. So I followed around old guys for an hour on grass that I was not worthy to putt on. I realize this is an antecdote. Fuck golf.
     

  • If Curtis Strange thinks change cheapens the game, why isn't he hitting feather balls with wooden longnoses?
  • "We choose to go to the moon, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

    President Kennedy, announcing the goal of landing on the moon before the end of the 60's.

  • But the usual golf player is already a gigantic ... oh, you mean in the ground.

  • by Kr1ll1n (579971) on Monday April 21, 2014 @09:33AM (#46804819)

    I am a disc golfer. I have met many traditional golfers that have left their game and become disc golfers.
    Here are three of the reasons they have cited as why;

    * More laid back players\atmosphere
    * Majority of courses have zero green fees
    * More family oriented
    * Only takes 1-2hrs to play a round
    * Costs of gear is a fraction of the alternative
    * Costs to be in the PDGA is much cheaper than the PGA

    Translation is that some golfers convert to disc golf because it is much cheaper, more laid back, and they can get their whole family involved.

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