23 April 2014

"Big-hole golf" explained

The embedded image isn't an optical illusion.  That's Sergio Garcia retrieving his ball from a 15-inch-diameter cup on the putting green.
Mention 15-inch cups to a self-proclaimed golf purist, and their upper lip will quiver as their knickers bunch. “My forebears aimed at four-and-a-quarter-inch holes,” they’ll harrumph. “So it was, and so it shall ever be!”

Which, of course, is pretty much King’s point. With all due respect to golf’s timeworn traditions, the game remains so wedded to its established views that its guardians are blinded to the need for change. As a consequence, golf has become like the prostates of many of those who play it: it has a growing problem.

Participation is dwindling, down nearly 20 percent in this country over the last 10 years alone. While others have noted this troubling trend, King has taken outsize steps to reverse it...

...the enlarged hole isn’t meant for elite players. It’s aimed at juniors, newbies and assorted would-be golfers, those untold legions who steer clear of the game because they think that it’s too stuffy, too difficult, too boring, and the many more who have given up playing out of sheer frustration. Advocates of the 15-inch cup say that because it speeds up play and lowers scores (test-runs show that it shaves 10 strokes from the average golfer’s tally) it also has a place at easy-going tournaments and company outings. Behold the jumbo hole: a cure for the three-putt, an antidote to the five-hour round. 
There is big money behind this trend.  The "King" referred to above is Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade, a premium equipment manufacturer.

There is an explanatory video interview with King at Golf.com and more information at the Wall Street Journal and at Hack Golf.  The industry is suffering - there are fewer players, and golf courses around the country are being repurposed.  Changes are imminent and this appears to be one of the more interesting ones.  I'll report later on kickball golf and on the new "party hearty" driving ranges.


  1. Golf is perceived as a rich man's game because it is pretty damn expensive - and it isn't just because the green fees, cart requirements, and tips to the caddy add up. Country clubs host most PGA events, and are, of course, way out of reach for most people. But the municipal courses which survived the budget cuts are set up for success by people with the best equipment - hybrid clubs, loft wedges, graphite shafts, golf balls that can go for $5 a pop, etc - which means people with entry-level clubs can't compete on a quality course (amazing how many courses decided they needed to "Tiger-proof" their landscape...). A round at the local par three is not the same as a round which gives the player a chance to test their skill from the rough or the sand. No one wants to play a game they have no hope of competing in.

    Until they can make the game more affordable and accessible, it will continue to shrink.

  2. I have a real love-hate relationship with golf. I really got into it for a while, but found it frustrating at least as much as it was fun. Add to that the cost in $$$ and time away from my family and it just didn't make sense anymore. I still play occassional charity events, but that's it.

    Personally, the hardest part is NOT putting. Sure you accumulate a lot of strokes putting. But striking the ball with any accuracy is what really causes scores to skyrocket and round times to increase. And that's much harder to fix.

    1. What you say about putting is quite true, but the impetus for the big hole is not to overcome difficulty, but to decrease playing time. A significant portion of each round is spent aligning putts, marking and remarking, pulling and replacing the pin etc. The big holes really cut the time of a round, which allows more rounds to be played in a day, which generates increased revenue.

    2. Why not compromise? Surely something between 4.5 inches and 15 inches would placate the purists a bit more, but at the same time would help decrease playing time. Maybe something in the 7 to 9 inch range seems reasonable to me.

  3. I quit golf decades ago and time was the issue. A round of golf was taking 5 to 6 hours plus travel. Even that could have been managed but over half of every game was "waiting on someone else".

  4. I am still trying to work out what 15 or 4 and a quarter inches looks like.
    Most people in the world, and by that I mean the 6 and a half billion that do not live in the USA or great Britain, think, work and understand the decimal system, call it metric if you will, 10 tens in a hundred, 10 hundreds in a thousand and so on and so on, you just can't go wrong. Using a system that is based on 12 and 3 and 1075 (?) echoes the game of golf, it is from a bygone era when humans counted the number of dragons they had to kill to get laid by using their fingers. I mean the dragons, not the times they would get laid, nor do I mean they used their fingers to get their rocks off.
    Talking of rocks, trying to convince me that a country that relies upon the aforementioned 12/3/1075 counting system, that in 1969 had the computing power as advanced as my mobile phone from 1999, actually landed a spacecraft on our moon, is as impossible as teaching someone the USA how to pronounce the word herb. If you pronounce it erb, as the French do, then you really need to pronounce hospital as ospital. And hotel as otel, hello as ello etc etal.
    (when the lunar so called landing module went down, it must have had rockets that stopped it crashing into the ground, rockets that were so evenly balanced that it didn't fall to one side, but those rockets didn't blow away any dust, which was lucky, because when Neil got out he was able to take a movie of his boot leaving a footprint in the seemingly thick moondust.
    Loved the way they were able to film the landing module landing, wonder who was there before to do the actual filming. Magic ! Moon Magic !
    And if you ARE going to pronounce French words the French way, could you please spell them the French way too ? It's theatre, centre, metre.
    Watching American movies (by American I actually mean only the USA, American in reality means those countries in the Americas- Canada, The USA, Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rico, Panama ...oh, and so many more, who knew ? - I did) has led me to believe that every car accident causes a massive explosion, with the car being tossed in the air, end over end, many many times, and as it crashes onto it's roof a helicopter chukchuks by. Hire a French movie, learn to read the subtitles, you may be surprised. Most of the TV programmes we get to see are American -again, I mean USAian, and so our young people are starting to talk like USAians, like, totally.
    Whatever. I reckon 15/12ths of a feet is about 15/12ths of 300mm (300 millimetres is exactly one tenth of 300 centimetres, (you can probably see the French word for a thousand in millimetre, and the French word for a hundred in centimetre). A centimetre is one tenth of a metre ! See how easy it is ! You could learn it so easy ! A millimetre (remember mille means a thousand small things) is a thousandth of a metre, a centimetre is a hundredth of a metre. There are a thousand metres in a kilometre, yes, kilo means a thousand big things. Got side tracked....15/12ths of a feet must be the same as 15/12ths of 300mm.
    So the golf holes are 375mms, wow, a child could fall down in one !
    Dangerous !

    1. "The downward traveling exhaust stream would impact the ground and rebound mostly outward and away from the surface. Since there is no atmosphere to interact with, the gas molecules would simply fly off and disperse (see note below). The only dust particles that would be displaced would be those directly impacted by the exhaust gas. Since the exhaust stream was concentrated mostly in the area directly beneath the Lunar Module, this zone would experience the greatest disturbance. The area adjacent to the LM would be largely unaffected by the exhaust stream.

      NOTE: On Earth, the exhaust gas would impact and displace air molecules that would, in turn, displace other air molecules and so on. This phenomenon would create a large area of disturbance. Since the Moon has no atmosphere this type of widespread disturbance would be nonexistent. "


    2. "Loved the way they were able to film the landing module landing, wonder who was there before to do the actual filming. Magic ! Moon Magic !"

      Can we see that film?

    3. This is actually the most amusing (and nonsensical) comment I've seen in this blog in all times. Thank you!

    4. Vous êtes allés à la lune, monsieur.


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