So young, impatient idiots will want to play it.
Or something like that.
My feelings on the game of golf are simple: it’s the greatest game every invented. It’s the game of a lifetime. It’s the game of constant fascination, frustration, revelation, and human exploration.
No game can take you to more corners of the earth. No game but golf can be shared by little kids, old geezers, and athletes in their prime.
It’s hard. It has odd rules. It requires etiquette.
And all of that is the point.
But apparently, the people who sell $500 drivers and the courses who want to charge $200 a round, are freaking out about a decline in participation that shows no signs of letting up.
Other explanations for golf’s dwindling supply of players include increasing time pressure, two-earner families and the poor economy. Whatever the cause, golf in the last five years has lost 25% of its core players, defined as those who chalk up eight or more rounds annually, and 30% of those in the treasured 18- to 34-year-old demographic.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Hack Golf initiative is its unsparing criticism of previous efforts. At a media breakfast Wednesday, Mark King, TaylorMade’s chief executive, characterized one panel he served on as “the most wasteful hour of useless conversation ever.” Leadership stalls, he said, “when you get the same guys looking at the same problem through the same lens year after year.”
TaylorMade has pledged $5 million over the next five years to fund experiments. The first will be King’s personal hobbyhorse: 15-inch cups. The company has already signed up a dozen courses to host tournaments with the gigantic holes. The object is to speed up putting and reduce the frustration for beginners. Players will also be able to use a set of four super-forgiving, and super-illegal, clubs that the company has manufactured in limited quantity, and balls nearly twice the normal size. “If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, we’ll move on to something else,” King said.
Of course, I want my friends in the “golf business” to thrive. I want courses to stay open, and I do want that cool new driver every few years. But the only thing I believe will help “save” the game (an absurd and overly dramatic term, “save” by the way) is an utterly militant effort to enforce speed of play.
If you can move people around 18 holes in 4 hours or less, people who love golf, will play more of it. It’s not any more complicated than that.