Is this flaky? Blasphemous? A disaster waiting to happen? Or something that might help grow the game?
Golf course architect Bill Amick has drawn up something he calls “Pain Relief for Golfers on Par-3 Holes When the Pace of Play is Slow, Slow, Slow.”
Amick certainly has the credentials to weigh in with an idea on how to try to fix what remains one of the biggest impediments to growing golf. He started his Daytona Beach, Fla., firm in 1959, making it the oldest in that golf-centric state. He’s designed more than 75 courses, been President of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, and received its Distinguished Service Award in 2011.
But even with those achievements, there’s one more thing he’d like to accomplish in his career. “One of the next most frustrating things to any golfer is waiting on the tee of par-3 holes,” he says. “An easy and inexpensive way courses could provide brief entertainment to ease a bit of that strain would be by creating a target short of the green on those holes [see diagram below].
“Rings forming a target could be mowed at a slightly lower height of cut than the surrounding grass,” Amick explains. “The result is a bullseye with a center circle and three surrounding scoring zones. These give a score from zero to four, depending on where a waiting golfer’s ball stops on or outside the target.
“Once the group ahead is on the green, waiting golfers could hit a shot from the tee to the target,” he continues. “The shot would not be part of their regular round and would not count in a golfer’s total score. It’s merely a diversion while they are stalled from hitting.
“Once golfers can and do hit their regular tee shots to the green, they go by the target, to note where their ‘non-counting shot’ stopped and obtain a score. That ball is picked up, and golfers proceed to play the par-3 in a conventional way with their regular tee shot. High score to the target could win a side bet.
“The main purpose is to occupy golfers’ attention for a short time, instead of them stewing impatiently on the tee, and to provide a little welcome distraction while the group ahead seems to take forever to putt out and clear the green.”
Now let’s back up and review some of the terms that Amick used as he described the concept: Entertainment…a shot that doesn’t count…diversion…a ball that’s picked up…welcome distraction.
Is this flaky? Blasphemous? A disaster waiting to happen? Or might it actually help grow the game, as another fresh approach like others highlighted in our cover story this month?
Amick says as he’s shopped the idea so far, one club in the Midwest has expressed interest in trying it. As the new season warms up, he hopes he might hear from others.
I hope he does, if for no other reason than to give him credit for trying, at a time when no idea can really be off target.