Can’t We Have It All?

By | March 29th, 2018

Joe Barks, Editor, Club & Resort Business

At every club I go to, all I hear about from GMs, golf pros and superintendents is how much success they’ve had in promoting that no one has to play a full round of golf, or use the full course, if they don’t want to.

When Jack Nicklaus talks, we all should listen—especially those of us who aren’t nearly as immersed or invested in the golf industry as he has been.

But I have to admit, I’m somewhat puzzled by why Nicklaus feels the need to push extremes like outlawing modern golf balls or limiting course length as the only viable solutions for the pace of play problem that he thinks is keeping new players from taking up the game, and also driving many existing ones out of it.

At every club I go to, all I see is more and more tees being added to the course—in both directions. And all I hear about from GMs, golf pros and superintendents is how much success they’ve had in promoting that no one has to play a full round, or use the full course, if they don’t want to.

The introduction of more realistic practice areas and short courses that we’ve seen a lot of recently also seems to be doing a nice job of creating gateways for people to ease into golf—and also to keep a lot of players content to just use those facilities and stay off the main course.

It’s also easy to find plenty of opinion in golf discussion groups that either contends 1) the pace of play “problem” doesn’t really exist, or 2) if it does, it’s easily fixable with firm and consistent management.

With all of these variables in play, it would seem like there would be ample room to get managers and all levels of players together to create workable policies and fashion a comprehensive approach to a golf program that could keep everyone happy, without resorting to extremes about equipment or course design (neither of which seem to be very practical, in terms of how they could be applied or enforced).

Nicklaus’ main point in pushing for a return to low-tech golf balls and shorter courses is that “People don’t have the time to spend five hours to play golf. A lot of people don’t have the money to be able to do that, and they find the game very frustrating and very difficult.

“I think you need to change with the times,” he adds.

But from what I’ve been seeing, I think we already are.

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