Jim Dodson, writing in the North Carolina Pilot, has a ten step plan for saving golf.
I like a lot of his points, but a couple particularly intrigue me:
1) Make golf a 12 hole game.
I whole-heartedly agree with this one. But I think it should be 14. Nine is not enough to satisfy me. And 18 is often way too much. But 14 is a perfect number. I’ll often play 14 at my club. I play one through 13, then jump over a fairway and take 18 back in to the clubhouse.
3) Kids play free.
Absolutely. And golf course owner who are thinking about their long-term viability instead of short term profits should at least start offering major kids discounts.
6) The Augusta National Lottery.
Dodson says that August should institute a national lottery where a lucky few would be able to play the famed course. The money would go to charity and would improve Augusta’s image. I know that I’d shell out $25 bucks a year for a chance.
10) Update the rules.
You get another agreement on this one. The time it takes to play a round is a major issue, and a few rules changes would speed things up enormously.
Most of the things that Dodson suggests are things that the average golfer does anyway, such as eliminating the distance in out of bounds and lost ball penalties. Just drop it where you think it went out and play on.
Dodson also suggests allowing the flag to be kept in the hole while putting. Amen. That’s what the rule used to be. When playing alone, I never take the flag out, and often don’t when playing with friends. An enormous amount of time is wasted on flag ettique.
I have yet another suggestion for speeding things up. Convince people that it’s ok to step on the line of a putt. The days of metal spikes tearing up a green are over. Unless you’re grossly overweight, the indentation made by your soft spikes are not likely to affect anything. And if it does, it’s just as likely to bump you on line as it is to bump you off line.
By keeping people from contorting themselves as they hop and skip over lines and take the long way around to get to their ball or the flag, I think you’d save fifteen minutes a round just with this one.