Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Playing the game faster - better?

The last time we met, I mentioned a few ideas that the common man has brought up that would make them play more golf, or in some cases, take up the game. Here are a few things they mentioned.

Time. This has been a common complaint for awhile. In today’s society, the thought of spending four to five hours on any one activity is unacceptable. Personally, I’ve always believed that a certain commitment is necessary if you’re going to be a participant. However, since I’m in a small minority on this issue, there are options.

Please don’t tell me a Scramble is an option. We’ve all played in scrambles that have seemed to be interminable. The main reason is that the strategy discussed among the team, make the meetings of the Joint Chiefs of Staff look like an office water cooler discussion. Forget the scramble.

A viable option is a Shamble. This is where the team selects the best drive and plays their owan ball through the hole with a double bogey maximum. There’s only one team decision and the lesser-skilled players will be playing from a better position than usual. Trust me on this—a Shamble is quicker than a Scramble by a lot.

A better option is a true round of Alternate Shot. A few years ago, I had the thrill of playing Royal Dornoch. There were just two of us walking (another way to speed up the game). We were played through by a foursome playing Alternate Shot. Their precision was incredible. The two players who holed out on the green would immediately proceed down the fairway while their partners hit their drives. While the drivers would immediately proceed towards the green, the other pair would hit the second shot. There were always two people in motion.

When we finished our round, we asked the club secretary about that foursome. We were told that they play every day at lunchtime and are back at their job in the village in an hour and a half.

Somewhere along the way, Ready Golf has become Rude Golf. Truthfully, I’m surprised someone hasn’t been killed playing Ready Golf. For some reason, golfers who choose this path think if they can run to their ball first, they can just hit it is on a course to disaster. I’ve seen more near-misses because the hitter hasn’t visually accounted for the rest of the group. I’d rather see the golfer away be prepared when the time comes.

One other idea that would have merit in a civil society would have every golfer be issued a time card. It’s punched on the first tee and the 18th green and you’re charged by the hour. Unfortunately, if one group is playing behind a slower group; mayhem may ensue.

Equipment. Golf is one of the few industries regulated by a non-profit organization that caters to one to two percent of its membership. I’m talking about the USGAs regulation of equipment. Hey, I’m all for maintaining the skill level of the game, but right now it’s not totally in the best interest of the game. Why not give the players who really need it the most, the novice and high handicappers, the real game-improvement equipment. Trust me; the stuff these engineers can produce goes way beyond the clubs, shafts and balls now available. Then make certain criteria. If you achieve a certain skill level, the level of game-improvement equipment is dialed back; but only if the golfer wishes to attain a legitimate handicap and compete in a tournament. Give the golfer the option.

Mr. Bartender, would you mind pouring me another tall, ice cold draught beer. Please use that high tech mug that keeps the suds at the optimum temperature from first sip to the last. It’s time to vacate the soap box for another week.

If anyone has an idea how to make the game more viable for more people. Please let us know and we’ll give your idea a trial balloon.

See you on the first tee.


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