The Dirt Blogs
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What did it feel like the first time you broke 90? What about when you broke 80? I’m sure you felt accomplished, full of potential, on top of the world. It felt as if everything came together, everything was clicking, in sync and easier than before. Your work on the range has finally paid off. There was a barrier set by the game of golf. You smashed it.
Now it’s on to the next level. You commit yourself to new goals; you strive to be better at the game. You buy instructional videos, practice aids and upgrade your equipment. It’s back to the range, back to the drawing board. You swing in the mirror and video-tape yourself. Your wife and non-golfing friends call you obsessed, maybe insane. They say you should relax, that it’s just a game.
You keep going anyway, you know that they just don’t get it – they are the crazy ones. You put in countless hours to shave just a few strokes off your handicap. You have to improve.
THAT is what this game is all about. Golf is an incredibly hard game to play, especially to play well at it with any consistency. At times the game doesn’t seem fair. The bounces don’t go your way, your ball hits a sprinkler head, you land in a divot, penalties and rules created years ago continuously cost you strokes.
But, maybe it’s too hard. What if you could make it easier? Would you do it?
Several, very influential people in the golfing community are lobbying to make the game much easier for the amateur golfer. A move that, I fear, will diminish the appeal and the very root of what makes golf great. It will destroy the history and the soul of what the game is all about. Golf is a game that offers rewards for hard work, diligence, honesty, practice, discipline and commitment.
Earlier, I asked you what it felt like when you broke through a scoring barrier for the first time. Now, what if you were no longer given the opportunity to have that feeling again? What if your children or grandchildren were never given the chance of having that extremely rewarding experience?
The game is changing. Kings and queens on the chess board of golf regulation are making their moves. They are going to make it easier.
At the head of the movement seems to be Barney Adams, manufacturer of Adams Golf. In late May, along with the help of the USGA and PGA of America, Adams will launch the, “Play it Forward,” campaign.
The essence of the campaign is to urge amateur golfers to play the game from closer tee boxes, 500 yards closer in most cases. Ads will run on-air at several of the major championships this year, including the U.S. Open. Also, for two weeks, starting on July 5th, course operators will be asked to make playing from closer tee boxes mandatory.
I’m an amateur golfer. I don’t want to play closer to the green. I know that I am not good enough to play from the lengths that PGA professionals play from. But, now you’re telling me that I’m not good enough to play from the men’s tees? They are already about 500 yards closer than the professional tee’s. So, let me get this straight. You’re proposing that there should be at least a 1,000 yard gap between where I play from and where the pro’s play from? No thanks, I’d rather stay where I’m at.
Taylor Made-Adidas Golf president and CEO, Mark King, has suggested even more radical changes. Among his suggestions are things like having 15” cups and having beginners throw, instead of hit, out of sand traps.
Even knowing the possibility of changes like this are out there, is insulting to me. I don’t want my kids playing with 15” cups, or anything close to it. How are they going to learn a proper putting stroke? How many hole-in-ones and eagles do you want people to have? You just want them to have the illusion of being good?
I feel good after I make a birdie, really good. How much will that feeling dissipate by knowing that it wasn’t a regulation size cup that I sunk my ball into, by knowing that I played from tee boxes that allowed me to hit a wedge into the green instead of a six iron?
The challenge will be gone. Therefore, the reward that this game gives us will be gone.
Adam’s was quoted in Golf Digest last year as saying this about his campaign, “This has to be a movement, so that in essence it becomes the new golf…”
I don’t want a new golf. You and I appreciate golf as it is, and as it should be, a ridiculously hard game to improve at. That is why we play the game. That is why it consumes us. That is why we put so much work into our game. Because the payoff, the reward that the game gives us for our efforts, feels so damn good. Don’t take that from us. Don’t widen the gap between professionals and amateurs any more than it already is.
Mark King was quoted as saying, “Even when we do attract new golfers, they leave within a year. Do you know why? It’s not because it takes too much time. It’s not because it’s too expensive. It’s because it’s no fun. It’s really hard.”
In a corporation dominated world, it’s a numbers game. It’s about money. It’s about attracting anyone and everyone to a product, to a game.
In my opinion, the people that quit the game within a year, they aren’t golfers. They never will be a golfer. They don’t have what it takes. This game isn’t for everyone and should never be tailored to fit everyone.
I’m glad they quit the game. It leaves more open tee times for us true golfers. Golfer’s that know this game is hard. Golfer’s that love the feeling of eventually succeeding at such a difficult game. I ask you again, please don’t take that from us.