SBD/April 22, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Noonan! Golf Industry Leaders Experimenting With 15-Inch Holes To Drive Interest

Fifteen-inch holes will be installed at about 100 courses in the U.S.
An "internal rebellion" in golf has led to alternative forms of the game with "new equipment, new rules and radical changes to courses," according to Bill Pennington of the N.Y. TIMES. The goal is to "alter the game’s reputation in order to recruit lapsed golfers and a younger demographic." Among the unconventional types of golf is an "entry-level version in which the holes are 15 inches wide, about four times the width of a standard hole." Another alternative is "foot golf, in which players kick a soccer ball from the tee to an oversize hole, counting their kicks." Meanwhile, golf courses in recent years have "encouraged people to think of golf in six-hole or nine-hole increments." TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King created the website HackGolf.org to "generate more ideas about how to make golf more fun," and the brand in the next month will "subsidize the installation of 15-inch holes at about 100 golf courses so the results can be assessed." The bigger holes "might be especially appropriate for corporate and charity golf outings, which often attract novice golfers" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/19). TaylorMade-adidas Golf and the PGA of America last week hosted a nine-hole event featuring the 15-inch holes for media and pro golfers. The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jon Paul Newport attended the event and wrote, "I played a round in which our time on the greens was slashed in half." Newport: "I'm a golf purist, and I can't wait to play with 15-inch holes again. Would I want to play every round that way? Not at all." King projects that "hundreds more courses will buy into 15-inch golf by the end of the year." Bishop said, "Call it whatever you want, but we've got to get past this notion that unless you're playing nine or 18 holes, with 4 1/4-inch holes, it's not golf. This is a form of the sport, just like playing H-O-R-S-E on the backyard hoop is a form of basketball" (WSJ.com, 4/18).
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