Is golf dying? And is this the way to save it?

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Does golf need a radical overhaul?

This isn't necessarily a new question, but it's one being debated more -- and more seriously -- coming off the recent PGA Merchandise Show.

Adding fuel to the fire is a group of well-known, influential, and highly skilled players whose recently launched idea is likely making the blue coats at the USGA turn green.

Some think it could save golf from dying a slow death.

One thing's for sure --  you'll probably think it's one of the best or worst ideas you've ever heard of.

First, most everyone agrees that golf is hurting. The number of players, rounds, and courses is declining.

At the core of the debate is whether the game of golf is just too darn hard, at least for the casual player.

One factor at play is that golf courses have become so much tougher over time.

Our most recent building boom was somewhat of an arms race to see who could build the biggest, baddest and longest layouts – a problem further complicated by many players who insist on playing from tee boxes too long for their game.

I couldn’t help but notice during last weekend’s Match Play Championship event that the pros were routinely hitting wedges through 8 irons on their approach shots.  Too often I see amateurs holding 4 irons and hybrids, even after “ripping” a drive.

As discussed in a recent Wall Street Journal article, a group of Silicon valley executives have even gone as far as to propose an alternative set of rules called Flogton ("not golf" spelled backwards) where players could match rules that suit their skill levels.

For example, taking one mulligan per hole and getting free relief from trees and other obstacles.  (Little did I know, I have friends who have been playing Flogton for years!)  Among the proponents are longtime Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy, John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay, and Bill Campbell, chairman and former CEO of Intuit…all low handicappers.

I even found a product at the PGA Show looking to ride this trend.  And while I support the effort, it definitely deserves at least an honorable mention in my unofficial list of goofiest golf items of all time (joining such doozies as Windage, a spray bottle that emits a puff of powder so you can judge the direction of the wind – this comes in very handy if you ever play on a course without grass).

The name of this year’s brainchild is Kangarila. To play it, you use only six clubs and play with special Kangarila balls.  The balls have special markings, and whichever section comes to rest facing up determines which club you need to use to hit your next shot.  For example, a wood, long iron, wedge, or “player’s choice."  Kind of like golf meets Magic 8-ball.

Frankly, I have had some memorable times playing 3-club matches, so to some extent, I applaud the inventors of Kangarila.  However, if you want to play like this, wouldn’t it be much easier (and cheaper) to simply mark up a ball with a Sharpie?

What do you think?  Does golf need to be easier to survive?  If so, is the answer a separate set of rules (and perhaps equipment) for pros and amateurs? Are ideas like Flogton and Kangarila the best -- or worst -- ideas you've ever heard of? Please share your comments below.

Mar 08, 2011

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Duane's avatar
Duane wrote at 2016-08-27 14:32:41+00:00:

The traditional game is definitely on the skids, losing millions of followers. With fewer avid golfers to support golf, a millenial generation not playing at all and more golf related business closing, look for a big changes coming to the overall format.

V's avatar
V wrote at 2016-07-11 10:51:19+00:00:

This year, I am quitting golf, after 20+ years of playing the game, citing:

1. Cost of green fees & additional expenses.

2. Difficulty of the game (most years my average score was 102).

3. Golf snobbery and elitist attitudes. (I'm not going to waste my $50 to be around these people).

4. Lack of partners (When I first started in 1994, I had no problem finding golf partners, nowadays, nobody really golfs anymore).

Pete's avatar
Pete wrote at 2016-02-05 11:33:24+00:00:

Golf is supposed to take a long time to play, be expensive and really difficult to learn and frustrating at best...that was the allure of the game in our fathers & grandfathers era. Not today...the world has moved on & changed thanks to the computer age and the economy! Today's world demands quick, affordable, economic, enjoyment, convenience, satisfaction, efficiency, enviro-responsibility, which the old golf game can't provide and needs evolve & adapt to the modern culture, just like any other thriving industry. Change is the only constant.

Anthony S's avatar
Anthony S wrote at 2015-09-17 10:07:53+00:00:

So I have read a lot of the comments in here and I cant believe what some of you people have had to say .... change the amount of holes .... change the rules.... limited flight balls ect. WTF are you kidding??

I look at it like this ... people here are complaining that the prices of clubs are too expensive and that they can not play well because they cant afford the latest and greatest clubs. lol I was once told that it is the Indian not the arrow and with that being said. You don't have to have the best clubs on the market to have a great time or even shoot a decent score. Golf is a sport that could be considered a journey. It tests your patients, your resolve, your character, and determination. This is not a sport that you master over night and it takes time and dedication to get better.

For all the people complaining that the courses should be designed for people that are not the best golfers and that the rounds are too expensive. Try golfing at a course that is easier for the amateur player with cheaper greens fees. Trust me there are a lot of courses out there that are built for less skilled players. Also maybe try going to a driving range and learning how to swing a club and get in a little practice before heading blindly out to a course. Check out some how to youtube videos. When you first started driving did some one just give you a licence and a car and say good luck .... no you take the time to learn first before heading out to the nearest highway.

Maybe instead of trying to change this great game to make it easier for people who are too lazy to take the time to learn how play or even attempt to learn basic etiquette on the course. These people should dedicate their time to something cheaper and and easier to master. I hear paper and pencils are pretty inexpressive now days take up tic tac toe. It doesn't take all day to play and you will still have time to go out and make comments on subjects like this that you have no idea what your talking about !!!

Steven James's avatar
Steven James wrote at 2015-09-08 12:44:55+00:00:

What golf really needs are well designed courses. Most difficult courses are too long with no options. The lowest form of golf design is substituting length for difficulty. It's the easiest thing in the world to build a tee and walk 400 yards (usually uphill) and say there's a tough hole! The other problem is forced carries and greens that reject shots. People work all week then go out to have FUN! It's no fun standing on a tee knowing it's going to take your career drive and a career second shot just to get on the green. Every course I play has at least two holes like this. The tee it forward campaign is a joke as most local pros still put the regular tee too far back. And if you read an article online by Lee Trevino he states that most golfers will not move up to the forward tees anyway as it's a macho thing with them. I also get a kick out of putting hazards right off the end of the tee boxes, wonder who is punished by those hazards. I just don't think golf is run by people who understand (or care) about the average golfer. Until this changes this game is in trouble.

Vince's avatar
Vince wrote at 2015-04-21 13:29:29+00:00:

Toooooo many golf courses,toooooo much ego and

expectation of ones self, fairly expensive and time consuming,lessons are even more time and money.

Best for the average golfer to be satisfied with a 15-25

Handicap. Remember : the better u get the more upset

one will likely be with poor shots and poor rounds. It is a game conducive to unsatisfying moments or annoying

moments. I am the happiest +20 golfer you encounter on a golf course because I keep my expectations low and just try to enjoy the scenery and nice folks one meets.

Anonymous's avatar
Anonymous wrote at 2015-01-18 17:55:05+00:00:

I believe where you need to start is addressing the junior golf issues as many kids these days are not given fair rates and or feel like the game is much too difficult. Golf courses need to include kids 1-14 for free when an adult round is purchased. Also each course should create a score based off of skill levels. When my oldest boy started, we made pars based on the rating and length of each hole. This allowed him to feel good about making a 6 (it was a birdie!!). Once he was able to get the joy of the game he wanted to go back everyday! Today he is 12 and is a 5 handicap playing from the men's tees. It's all about following the rules, but making the game evenly matched so that everyone feels success. Handicaps work once you have learned the game but learning the game can be very discouraging. Tee it from the right tee, play the rules, keep pace, be realistic as to what score you should take on any hole..... 700 yard par 5........... how about par 7 or 8.

None's avatar
None wrote at 2014-07-15 19:48:47+00:00:

I think is dying more today because people who love golf do not want to watch it on TV any more,they are tired of seeing two minutes of golf and ten minutes of adds,years ago it was a pleasure to watch golf,,not any more,now you get tired watching the adds,

Joyce's avatar
Joyce wrote at 2013-10-03 17:10:36+00:00:

I live in a golf community where unlimited golf is included in our monthly HOA dues so cost has not been an issue for us. I have lived here for 13 years and played golf only a handful of times. The rabid attitudes of the serious golfers made it more pleasant to stay home. Now, just recently, a new group has started up who have decided it would be fun to play, get this, FOR FUN! Members have to be 70+ years old, keeping score is considered a personal decision (nobody cares what you got). If you want to pick your ball up and throw it out of the sand trap, do so. If the rules of golf conflict with the rules of having fun, having fun wins. The group is encouraged to gather at the 19th hole for even more fun. Over 50 people signed up the first day which goes to show there is a need for this kind of "golf," We pay the same dues as anyone else and if our game doesn't include keeping score, why should anyone care?

LT's avatar
LT wrote at 2013-05-21 18:54:37+00:00:

Two things - well, maybe 1. Maybe more 9-12 hole courses which should also address the cost factor (#2). I don't always have time to play 18 and with the slow play going on, who can stand it? So do shorter tracks for less cash. No brainer.

Aussie Lady Player's avatar
Aussie Lady Player wrote at 2012-08-06 04:39:16+00:00:

I play with a 30 handicap and always play by the rules, as does everyone at my club. I've been playing competition for almost a year and have dropped my handicap from 40 to 26 (now back to 30) in that time. I simply can not believe the amount of commentators posting on this article admitting that they regularly break the rules of golf, seemingly in competition play! What about those people who are playing against you in the field who are sticking to the rules? And how does that make you feel when you look at your handicap?

The rules are the rules. The most satisfaction that one can get from golf is nailing a tricky punch or curve shot off a bad lie through a gap in the trees to within a little chip to the green! Suggesting that people pick appropriate tees is not a valid solution except in social play. It would be more appropriate to say to social players that if they hit more than eight balls (or 6 on a par 3), then they should pick their ball up and walk to the next tee. Scheduling Stableford or Par games as the norm, except for a once-monthly Stroke, is also an option.

The main issue that golf faces is that it is a misogynist sport. All private courses here in Australia either have women playing in their own tee times on a Saturday, or not at all! Many public courses are still stuck in the dark ages as well, only letting women play in Saturday competition in their own (usually later) tee times - and the battle continues for many courses to even have ladies playing at all. To further insult their lady players, while male members play their club championships on the weekends, lady players are forced to play their championship during the weekday. With so many ladies working now, this is discrimination at its best - why should I need to take a week's worth of annual leave and associated pay cut to play in the club championship when my male counterpart, paying the same membership fees, gets to play his championship on the weekend? It's issues like these that turn off potential female members, annihilating half of the game's potential players (and payers).

The second problem with golf today is pace of play. Too many clubs do not enforce a suitable pace of play, and they lose membership and potential members as they are turned off by overly slow rounds. If clubs enforced the pace of play rule, they would generate more revenue by being able to fit more players on the course for the day. Yesterday I played a course that had a recommended time posted up on a board on around the 13th hole. We were about 25 minutes past this time (not our fault, we were waiting on EVERY hole). Yet there was absolutely nobody enforcing this, and no bundy clock either. This was a course that is always full on a Sunday, and they could have fit a substantially greater amount of players, thus largely increasing their green fee revenue, if they enforced pace of play.

Harv's avatar
Harv wrote at 2011-08-30 20:58:05+00:00:

Golf Courses need to be more friendly to the Duffer. It is the Duffer who represents the vast majority of players. Those who are reasonably skilled at driving, pitching, hitting from the fairway and rough, are in the top 10% of athletic people. Pace of play is critical: The Duffer takes much longer and is out on the course to enjoy the environment as much as to make a lower score. I think that after 3pm or on certain days, the course rules regarding pace of play should be relaxed. The staff and the course managers need to be more Duffer friendly during these periods. Also, there needs to be a better kids program, and more emphasis on parents taking kids on the course. This really will slow the pace of play. So this needs to be done in certain time periods. But it is the pace of play people who push the Duffers and family players, who make the Duffer feel guilty and ashamed, that discourages the vast majority of people from staying with the game after learning the basic skills. The posts above often discuss how the pace of play is too slow! Well, that is true for the skilled athlete, but for the average joe and jane, the pace of play is too fast and too stressful. Thus, I think that certain times of the day and certain days need to be made "Duffer Friendly" and fast paced people should be discouraged from playing in those time slots.

Super "D"'s avatar
Super "D" wrote at 2011-08-26 16:22:44+00:00:

My biggest concern about slow play is the number of casual golfers who don't respect or even realize that time is an issue. Over and over again I see a foursome with everyone waiting for the first guy to hit out of the fairway, then ride or walk to the next ball and wait for the second guy to hit, etc. In my group we all get to our own ball as soon as possible and play ready golf. Same with putting. If I am on the green, my buddies are in sand or rough, trying to find their ball, I go ahead and putt. Also, I see a lot of players out in the fairway walk to their ball without a club in their hand. Wasted time. I think the courses should educate with a hand out explaining pace of play and how to play a little faster.

rvb's avatar
rvb wrote at 2011-07-18 14:57:59+00:00:

how about limiting the flight of the golf ball like we do in softball (restricted flight). What if the ball only went 250 yards off the tee with swing speeds from 85 MPH to 120 MPH? We could eliminate these 7200 yard courses and get back to a managble game and allow the majority of mid to low handicaps to really compete. Where does golf wind up, with 500 yard drives? Is a 1000 yard par 5 in our future?

Its insane!

gerhard's avatar
gerhard wrote at 2011-04-27 12:40:19+00:00:

The game is difficult

1. There is no logical, effective ball orientate teching aid

2. Golfer hits poor golf shot

3. Realises its costing him money

4. Gets frustrated

5. Uses cost, time wasting, golf course, economy as excuses and.

6. Quits.


Alex's avatar
Alex wrote at 2011-04-06 02:42:59+00:00:

The issue is partly cost, partly duration of a round, and partly little sense of golf etiquette by players. Older guys can't step up to the forward tees, young/new players want to hit from the back tees. Golfers want to play courses that are not suited to their skill level, no matter the tees. Foursomes made up of mismatched players slow a round and frustrate everyone. I thought 4 1/2 hours was too long, now its 5-6 hours for a round. Fortunately our golf is still reasonably priced!

john f gipson's avatar
john f gipson wrote at 2011-03-24 14:23:04+00:00:

What a conversation. I'm in my 61st year with the game and have enjoyed reading the comments and agree with most. I say leave the official rules alone, since they define the game. We can still play our preferred variations to be sociable and have fun without having multiple sets of rules in writing.

Growth of golf in the U.S. has been in a "bubble" phase for several years, so it's no surprise that the recent real estate and economic crunch is producing a decline. Costs of operating and maintaining a nice course increased dramatically. The number of people playing or wanting to play has increased, while the available or affordable opportunities have diminished. Looks like a bubble in equipment technology also.

Enlarging the hole will cause some unnecessary problems: How many millions of cup liners will need replacement? I think there would also be less stability of the edge at a larger size. I do agree that reducing time on the putting green will help. Longer "gimmes" at times, plus an agreed-upon maximum strokes rule per hole helps us move along better.

Course designs can be more sensible and still be highly aesthetic. My peeve is the excessive numbers and sizes of the bunkers. Unnecessary, too costly to maintain, too much time to rake it. Fewer, smaller, and well positioned bunkers would be an improvement.

ted b's avatar
ted b wrote at 2011-03-22 16:45:56+00:00:

I like the idea of "formalizing" the non-golf rules that many play by. I am about a 10, and have played for most of my life. As such I like to play truly by the rules of golf, so that I know what I shoot. I am also the father to two young girls and plan on getting them interested in golf the same way my Dad did for me - let them hack at that sucker as long as they want; don't let them get frustrated by the sand or water carries; and make sure there is a big bag of candy in the cart (that they get to drive).

Etiquette will also be paramount. They can learn the "rules" later.

As to the problems with the game, I have to agree that expectation management is to blame. Whether it be hoping to get a four hour round in on Saturday morning in a major city (NOT going to happen - they load those suckers UP!), hitting from the tips when your average (non-golf) round is 120, or losing your cool when you miss a ten footer for par (seen it more than once) - you hurt your own enjoyment of the game when you don't have any sense of reality about it.

Steve's avatar
Steve wrote at 2011-03-22 14:17:16+00:00:

As a long-time player of decent skill, I love the game and know its rules. I also enjoy having fun with the game and laughing with ny friends as we play. I agree many players play a course that may be "too long" for them (I still do), which adds to the difficulty, and I have no real problem with "your group" having its own special rules to make the game more enjoyable. But I'm wondering what comments you all may have on making the hole a little bigger...It's been 4.25 inches since 1891 (which happened to be the size of the cutter they had in Scotland then) and it's never changed. Putting is certainly frustrating, adds time to a round when players keep missing and marking and lining up, and adds up to roughly half the score. So make it a 5 inch hole, make more putts, lower scores, have more fun, and no big deal...What do you think????

Dennis L's avatar
Dennis L wrote at 2011-03-22 14:01:52+00:00:

The difficulty of courses is ridiculus. Play from a shorter tee or a different course, there are plenty. The one issue I have most players do not experience pro tour conditions as a result the ball typically is down and not a great lie. This effects quality of shots. When our groups go on a fall golf vacation we bump the ball, so everyone can play at least at a chance ofhitting a decent shot. This helps to level the playing field and as a result more enjoyment.

Second issue, courses are too expensive when they go over $75/round. $400 to play Whistling Straits ridiculous.

michael forrest's avatar
michael forrest wrote at 2011-03-15 19:14:02+00:00:

I have been a player since adolescence..... some 50 years. I would suggest two areas of concern regarding the participation in the sport and another regarding what I refer to as golf infrastructure.

The easiest first; infrastructure. It's no secret that golf has become increasingly expensive. The sport calls for expansive use of costly real estate located in close proximity to population centers. Efforts to include growth among younger participants have not been as successful as hoped. Higher costs combined with a declining market is a recipe for failure.

A principle motivator in golf comes from the display of professional golf as a spectator sport. Increasing skill levels encourage larger and longer, even more costly courses and further expand the gap between the journeyman participant and the professional he/she emulates.

To me, the evident solution to this obstacle lies in the ranges and areas demanded of the playing field (the golf course). Adjustments to equipment would be the most logical solution. As I recall; Jack Nicklaus proposed such a change years ago. A lower compression ball that travels less far, yet responds in a similar manner, in spin, feel and audibly seems an achievable goal. If correctly engineered, such a change would have the added impact of narrowing the gap between professional and amateur.

With regard to player participation levels, the two principle obstacles are expense and time. The matters related to expense may be partially addressed by the equipment changes noted above. Interestingly similar favorable impacts are to be realized on the time front. Shorter hitting distances translate into less time per round, or in looking for lost or misplaced shots and walking distances.

However, the most favorable and impactful advances might be realized by changing the cultural norms of typical play. Both time and expense issues may be addressed by altering the definition of 'typical' competition. Replace the 18-hole round with a 9 or 6 or even a three hole competition, reducing a "quick round of play" to as little as an hour or less.

As in any economically driven issue, a variety of paths may be taken toward solution(s). The paths identified do not exhaust the exploration of the subject, however, I think they represent an initial framework for the examination.

Mark's avatar
Mark wrote at 2011-03-15 16:22:39+00:00:

The economy hits everyone, and with $100 green fees, fewer people have the funds to play many rounds. Country Clubs are hurting. Some practically give away memberships: no initiatian fee, and $100 dollars off monthly dues. The public courses that charge $70-100 will have trouble attracting too many golfers. For a family of four to the math.

TN Duffer's avatar
TN Duffer wrote at 2011-03-15 16:14:16+00:00:

I have long felt that the cure to too much time and too expensive is to make a regulation round be 12 holes instead of 18. I enjoy playing; 9 is not quite enough and 18 takes pretty much all day. You could easily knock out 12 holes in 2 1/2 to 3 hours, reduce fees accordingly, and have 3 tracks at a 18 hole course

Splendid's avatar
Splendid wrote at 2011-03-13 17:04:29+00:00:

Disc golf: Takes less time, takes much less money, is more fun, and is environmentally benign. Nearly 4,000 courses in the US. Out of every 100 rounds of golf in 2011, 25 will be disc golf rounds.

Paul's avatar
Paul wrote at 2011-03-11 05:14:28+00:00:

I think we first must be clear about how we define golf as a "dying" sport. Most of the recent press referencing this topic relates to equipment manufacturers, golf course designers, and some golf course owners experiencing lower revenues due to lower golfer participation rates and fewer rounds. If you look at it this way, it's all about the marginal golfer, the person who maybe plays a few times per year and can quit for a few years (or forever) and maybe come back. During the "tiger" era this golfer was a huge boon to the bottom line of countless golf industry folks who wouldn't be around otherwise. This golfer is the one the industry is losing and saying that golf is dying. This is the golfer the industry is perplexed about retaining/attracting so they can sell more stuff (they don't care much about the "core" golfer since they know they have those sales in the bag). I think it's just a healthy contraction in golfer numbers that was probably unsustainably high. Close the golf courses nobody wants to play, get rid of a few manufacturers nobody buys from, etc. and the industry will be better off for all remaining business participants. The "core" golfer numbers are solid and support a very robust industry. As most of us know, if you are a certain type of person mentally, the difficulty and subtle beauty of this game will keep you around forever no matter how badly you want to quit!

jon's avatar
jon wrote at 2011-03-10 23:48:09+00:00:

Price per round is to high $$$$$$

RR's avatar
RR wrote at 2011-03-10 16:25:32+00:00:

Hate the idea of flogton; why dumb-down a sport that's hundreds of years old, especially given the technology available to players these days? I think the biggest problem might just be the way a lot of courses just take your money and throw you out there without any regard to the pace or quality of play. What happened to having marshalls? They used to be ambassadors to the game, helping to keep play moving and providing local knowledge of the course. Now, "resort" courses and the like act like greedy bastards who are only interested in inflated green fees while maintaining marginal conditions at best. The end result is an expensive, under-whelming experience for a 10 handicap such as myself.

Tom Schmidt's avatar
Tom Schmidt wrote at 2011-03-10 01:09:44+00:00:

Just got back from Cancun where it is 80 degrees and no humidity. Drove past three top designer golf courses in the area at 9 AM and did not see one foursome at any of them!!! Couldn't believe my eyes. The problem was each one was over $150 to play. Did not see anyone in my hotel with golf clubs. Gimmicks won't do anything. Cost will. I live near Bethpage and it is the best because of value.

Bernie's avatar
Bernie wrote at 2011-03-09 12:42:03+00:00:

Expense is a major problem for most people I know. However, in order for golf to remain healthy you must encourage young people to golf. I suggest that every course offer free group lessons for beginners . The basics of grip,ball position,swing and putting should be available for free for all golfers. Those who are interested will desire more individual attention and will pay for it.

In addition, drastically reduce the cost for very young golfers to play (with an adult) with the caveat that pace of play not be slowed. So pick up the ball, only putt and/or chip on some holes and if you can't find your ball drop another immediately and play. BTW use cheap or used golf balls.

I agree that golfers need to select the correct tees but many, if not most ,don't know which tees to choose. A simple guide on the first tee would help or a strong suggestion by the ranger based on handicap. Golfers who don't have a handicap should be ushered to the forward tees. Drop the title Ladies tees ! ( many young ladies out drive us geezers) Mostly, the goal of any kind of play is to have fun. So within your group make rules that allow you to have fun. If a round starts to go sour turn it into a scramble and don't let a number ruin your day.

There is a time and place for all styles of golf to be played. If you are not serious about golf stay away from the expensive courses. If you are driven to perfection stay away from the munis. There is room for us all and it needn't be a good walk spoiled.

Tom's avatar
Tom wrote at 2011-03-09 01:43:53+00:00:

It's a well known fact of golf that most golfers - at least higher handicaps - take mulligans anyway. So why not accept it and build it into the rules. It would speed up play, for one. Also, even though we play handicaps, the end score is the end score - and no one wants to be over 100, So instead of "cheating", allow mulligans based on your handicap. I would also treat all out-of-bounds as you would a water hazzard, that is, take a penalty stroke and play a drop from the point of entry, no closer to the hole. That would really speed up play.

Tucker's avatar
Tucker wrote at 2011-03-09 01:09:26+00:00:

Two problems: The ball and Developers

Simply make the pros use a different regulation ball in tournaments. This would stop the trend to longer and longer courses that none of us can enjoy.

Developers should focus on the majority of golfers who want to enjoy the game and not have an impossible task ahead of them. This would make the cost of developing cheaper and the cost of rounds more reasonable.

As a 60 year old with a 10 index, I typicaly play 6200 yds to 6800 yds. How much longer is necessary?

CME's avatar
CME wrote at 2011-03-09 00:44:48+00:00:

The answer is not to make the game easier. When you have a handi-cap it makes it fair! If you don't play enough to get a handi-cap, just hit the best you can and try to enjoy it. The game has become very expensive for most to play and with the coming economic collapse of our country no one will be able to play anyway. Unfortunately, using your extra money to store food for your family will be of a much better use, than spending $75.00+ for a round of golf. Is anyone paying attention to what is happening around us! BUY FOOD - NOT GOLF BALLS! The questions should be not "Is Golf Dying", but is our way of life dying!

GWG's avatar
GWG wrote at 2011-03-08 23:58:24+00:00:

I am a 66 year old golf "junkie". Been playing since I was 41, play 100 rounds per year, been down to a 4, won my Men's Club Championship at 57, shot 72 for the first time in my life at the highest rated course in my state(private), and have been a course marshal for 5 years at two of the highest rated and most played courses in the state-just to give some perspective. I am now a 12 after being readened three years ago, and often play twilite golf, 9 hole rounds, and get out to chip and putt regularly. I have finally moved back to the regular tees, usually white men's tees beacuse of my length-short, I did he my last 300 yard dirve at 60-now it's about 200.

What I see out there is Big Egos(want to play back) lack of consideration(poorly educated in the ediquite of the game), and unreasonable expectations(given the amout of time people should be practicing). The game is difficult, so is life-good lessons to be learned-builds character, keeps one humble, etc. Players need to play the appropreiate tees(if you can shoot near parr, then move back, if not keep working on your game). Learn to be considerate of others, your playing partners, other groups,especialy the gorup behind you, keep up with the group in front and so on. If you don't have the time or money to play more often on the expensive courses then adjust your routine. The goal is to become the best golfer you can be without stressing about it. You can improve your game on any course, under any conditions, with less time and money. If your Ego says I only want to play the best/most expensive courses all the time, you may be hurting your chances of becoming a better play. The short game is "WHERE IT'S AT"-PRACTICE!! You can work on your swing on a nice $15 muni,just as you can on that $100 course-save that for special times. As far as the relative financial thing goes the people working at golf courses don't make any more than those in the fast food industry, but have much higher levels of education and training in what they are doing for the customer-players should be grateful that these high quality people are out there trying to make the game more enjoyable for you. So, STOP WINENING, you don't a new driver ever six months/or every year for that matter-what we need are better people, with better attitudes-which is true of life itself.

Holly's avatar
Holly wrote at 2011-03-08 22:56:13+00:00:

There is not much that's inherently fun about hitting a golf ball. The fun comes from dealing with all the challenges. If you want to get rid of the challenges, in my opinion, you're wasting your time and money pretending to play the game of golf.

As for playing the correct tees, I'm 78 and play from around 6,000 yards when I can. My quarrel is with architects and/or course operators who set up a course with the forward tees around 6,000 yards, but include several unreachable par four holes and then throw in a few very short holes. I see courses with up to 430 yard par fours from the forward tees.

As for cost, it seems to me there is a remarkable amount of whining going on here. Some of it seems to be from ignorance of what it costs to build, maintain and operate a golf course. Generally, there is a pretty good correlation between greens fees and golf course quality, including maintenance, design, location and service. Golf clubs can cost as much or as little as you care to pay and pretty much last as long as you want them to last, with occasional regripping.

In my experience, most people find a way to afford what they want to afford, even if it means cutting back somewhere else. Golf (not some stupid imitation thereof) is really important to me. At times I've spent money on it I probably shouldn't have done, a trip or two and a few impulsive club purchases. But my wife supports my golf passion 100%. She knows if I'm happy her life will probably be a little more pleasant. And I in turn support the things she likes to do.

What can I say about slow play other than I recognize a lot of type A personalities are really upset about it and there are some inconsiderate players out there. Most course rangers, where they exist, don't seem to have either the authority or the inclination to offend paying customers by telling them to speed things up. Or they finger the wrong group because they haven't been consistently observing what's going on.

As for me, I would rather suffer a bit of slow play than be stuck with a player who acts like his main objective is to get the round over with.

George's avatar
George wrote at 2011-03-08 21:28:41+00:00:

Golf is golf for a reason. Equiptment the venue and ability of the player. I'm a 5 hdcp and play with my 20+ hdcp friends sometimes and it's still fun for them. Bottom line cost is an issue in the green fees. For those courses that charge over $50, nice to know they exist, $100+ never. I will play my municipal courses for under $30 and some for as little as $11, yes $11 and it a great course. The Pacific NW has some of the best and inexpensive golf in the country. Yesterday we played a round in 3 hours 45 minutes, Rating 71.2, slope 128, Yardage 6571, made my 20+ hdcprs play the whites 6068 yds, cost $26 each. So don't tell me cost of fetilizer, and gas (BS) the couse was in great shape and almost full. Yes it was Monday mostly retired or had the day off. And yes in Europe they DO Not allow people on the course without proof that they have a minimum 25 hdcp and had lessons to back it up. Enjoy life, Golf for life, get better take lessons so you know what you are doing and last but not least know the rules. My grand kids wanted to go out and play golf, I said I'll pay for your lessons, they said No. I bought them a basketball.

DKSKR's avatar
DKSKR wrote at 2011-03-08 21:01:17+00:00:

I would agree that golf is simply too expensive for most. In addition the newer courses that are being built are harder and longer. Even municipal courses which used to be short and easy are now being made harder and longer. It is difficult for the beginner to enjoy a round of golf on a course like that. I believe the answer may be to start more simply. Instead of teaching beginners how to hit a driver, they should begin learning how to putt. Once they have mastered that they can then begin learning how to chip. It is inexpensive 2 maintain a chipping and putting green at a range One can build a pitch and putt course which would be fast and inexpensive to play. Once the beginner masters this, he can then move to learning to hit irons and play a part three-course. Once again this would be much less expensive to maintain and play. Clubs can be rented as one would only need a few irons and a putter. As the player progress as he can then learn to hit longer irons and woods and progress to a regulation course. By that time he could have purchased a putter when he was learning to putt. Wedges when he was learning to chip. irons when he was playing the part 3 course. And then finally woods when he moved to the regulation course. This was spread out the cost of the clubs over a longer period and allow the beginner to progress to a regulation course as his skill improves. As we have at present plenty of regulation courses this would mean that new construction would be much less expensive as it would involve putting greens, pitch and Putt courses, and part 3 courses.

Bruce's avatar
Bruce wrote at 2011-03-08 20:30:00+00:00:

I agree with fishman's assertions. However, it isn't the $40 greens fee that is the problem. It is the $75 greens fee and up that is the problem. And we still pay them. Stop playing those courses, and maybe fees would drop. These courses that charge $100 to $500 a round are ridiculous. This game in the US is for the wealthy. There aren't many carpenters or teachers, etc., paying that much for a round of golf. The game is too expensive, as stated by many above. Until that changes, golf is in trouble. The other thing mentioned is pace of play. I can't tell you how many times I have heard people say they have given up golf as they don't want to spend a whole day. If you are playing from the correct tees, it should take you at the outside, 3:45 to play 18 holes. But, the courses are content to call 4:15 to 4:30 standard. That is insane. Add to that rangers that won't or are afraid to do their jobs, and you have a problem. It is time for people to put their egos in the trash, and play from the tees they should. Most people think they are a lot better than they are. The normal person cannot afford to play this game on a regular basis. Equipment is ridiculous. If you only need 3 irons because you have hybrids, and want to keep them, you have to buy a whole new set of irons. And if you decide you are only going to buy three, you get raped on the price. The game itself doesn't need changing. Until you change the golf course owner's mentality, and the golfers that play the games egos, nothing will change. I don't see that coming soon!

JOE CACIOPPO wrote at 2011-03-08 19:35:48+00:00:

I put the responsibility on the courses. They first of are not realistic in there prices-then when gas goes crazy they stop cutting certain areas or leave them longer. These certain areas are always where errant shots go--so if your golf ball cost $3 a piece are you going to look for it? Hell yes! First of all cut all these areas down in the winter and try to keep them clear-someway(plastic barriers-weed killers). Then start making players play from the right tee boxes according to their skill levels--ENFORCE it! If I can go play nine holes in 1 to 1 1/2 hrs--- I am a happy golfer-- I will play more and enjoy it! Courses do not listen to their customers--they think the hell with them there is more golfers starting everyday--well for me if my course doesn't realize their flaws --I am off to another course who listens.

Guy's avatar
Guy wrote at 2011-03-08 19:34:50+00:00:

You can always play the right tees for your game, but lets face most people think sooner or later they'll hit it as far as bubba and have a short game tiger will envy but the problem with golf right now is greed. The prices for anything golf is ridiculous greens fees through the roof we have courses here in michigan that are terribly expensive and the courses are not even close to being worth the price. I can get good rates during the week being over 50, but the prices for greens fees, clubs, etc. are just out tof this world. The people in golf have to start bringing the price down or it's just going to get worse

fishman's avatar
fishman wrote at 2011-03-08 19:28:19+00:00:

How are courses supposed to make golf less expensive? Have fuel prices gone down? Fertilizer? Labor? A bare-bones maintenance budget is $500,000 a year for a 18 hole course. Devide that by 35,000 rounds and you get $14.28 a round for a seasonal course. Add in equipment, clubhouse, carts, customer service, utlities, interest, land costs, property taxes, and all the rest and there is not much left over from a $40 green fee. I'm all for golf losing some flab where it can, but golfers have to realistic about what it costs run a 150 acre facility.

John's avatar
John wrote at 2011-03-08 19:26:58+00:00:

Is golf dying? Golf and everthing golf, from courses, resorts, golf communities, to TV channels has built it's manison on the foundation of wealthy, white, and old guys. Some might think that is a stong foundation, probably wealthy , white, old guys. I think it's a foundation without much shelf life. Most of us who play golf don't wearing $500,000 watches when we play on a $30 a round muni course on Sunday mornings. But thats just me


Ed's avatar
Ed wrote at 2011-03-08 18:37:30+00:00:

Golf today is a game of "too's". It's too expensive, too long to play, too hard and too many rules. It all starts with the USGA, who is more concerned about 150 tour players than the millions of golfers who pay their wages. Make the game easier for the average player by allowing oversized drivers, balls that go further and grooves that stop the ball.

I don't know anybody who goes back to the tee for a ball out of bounds or lost ball. We all drop a ball and add a stroke. We all give putts within the leather. Have rules for pros and one for weekend golfers.

Make the hole 1 inch larger and you would solve the too hard and too long aspect of the game.

Stop paying name course designers millions of dollars to design courses and stop maintaining courses in pristine condition. Course owners are gouging the public with high green fees just because they could. How can anyone justify $250 for golf in Mexico where land and labour is cheap?

Brian's avatar
Brian wrote at 2011-03-08 18:25:56+00:00:

I am honestly getting sick of hearing how the game of golf is dying! The game is not dying at all. With less golfers, the game is getting better for true lovers of the game.

We as lovers of the game, expect appropriate golf etiquette. This includes pace of play. The more we try to expand the game, the more impossible it becomes to get a round that takes less than 5 hours to play. This is due to inexperience and or lack of respect for etiquette by newbs.

So my answer to you regarding "Does golf need a radical overhaul" is absolutely not. Golf has been played for hundreds of years and there is a steep tradition involved here. Is anything sacred anymore? Why not just make every golfcourse into big teds wacky golf and amusement. No, just leave the game, and 'happy the way it is' golfers alone.

Alan Van Arsdale's avatar
Alan Van Arsdale wrote at 2011-03-08 17:55:58+00:00:

It is my opinion that the game should be played as the game. What is proposed (Flogton or Kangarila) is not the game of golf, just as putt putt golf is not the game of golf. It is wiffleball and not baseball with different epuipment and different rules.

I do not think the game of golf is in trouble and it does not need to be made easier. The equipment has technically evolved, but the mental and physical skills/coordination, and rules remain.

The game of golf is not supposed to be easy. (It is a wonderful training tool to stay in the moment.) One can endeavor to do better (no one will ever shoot an 18!), but perfection is unattainable.

I do not think playing on a golf course, using different equipment and different rules is the game of golf. At the same time I do not think that playing some other game, with different sets of equiptment and different rules is bad. I just do not think it is the game of golf.

PS As many players do, I occasionally play on a course with only one club (7 iron), just to see how I might craft various shots using limited resources. When I do this, I do not think that I am playing a round/game of golf, although I follow the rules of golf.



Tom Yuschak's avatar
Tom Yuschak wrote at 2011-03-08 17:55:14+00:00:

I agree that the golf courses have become too tough for the average player. But I also believe that the game has to get back to its roots. Courses need to be walkable, not be part of housing developments and get rid of "the good old boy club". Golf needs to be made accessible to families; beginner friendly tee boxes, nine hole rates, parents and children playing together, teaching players the pace of play etiquette, make the game so it is not an all day affair, to name a few.

And yes the game needs to be made fun, not every round has to be a tournament round. The rules are designed for tournament players, not the average Joe. There needs to be a different set of rules for paid professionals and tournament amateurs. Games like Kangarila, string, one person scrambles all need to be incorporated into a courses/clubs social makeup.

In order for the game to survive the next generation of player needs to be introduced to the game. That is our children and grand children. Facilities need to be designed to allow the next generation to come out with there mom or dad and spend an hour or two before or after the next sporting event the child is playing in. Courses or facilities need to be designed into 3, 4 or 5 hole sections so a player can come out play a few holes and leave without impacting the rest of the course.

The Popester's avatar
The Popester wrote at 2011-03-08 17:36:05+00:00:

Dum and DUMMER and Dumbest Idea ever? I think I'll go get you some cheese an crackers to go with that big bottle of WINNING you've been drinking. JIM

Wayne's avatar
Wayne wrote at 2011-03-08 17:35:48+00:00:

While I appreciate the effort, I think flogton is the worst idea I have ever heard of. I am a 4 handicap, and while I would love the odd mulligan and getting relief, this does not promote the idea of maybe practicing to get better so you don't need this relief rather than taking the easy way out. Golf is a very difficult game to master (which we never will) and that is what attracts so many people to this great game. Make it easy, and more people will quit playing.

As for the game of Kangarila, its a game and thats it. I love golf for the challenge of making that great shot you dream of every once in awhile, that's what brings me back, and that is what drives me to improve.

I do agree most players play from the tee blocks that are to far for their game or skill level. The tee blocks should be marked i.e. back tee = 0-4 handicap, middle tee = 4-10, fowward tee = 10-20, or something like that.

Jim Baxter's avatar
Jim Baxter wrote at 2011-03-08 17:31:35+00:00:

Although, the toughness of a golf course comes into play, I still believe that the price to play golf is the big cause of the decline in golfing. I live in Ontario, Canada and have choices and thank goodness I do.

Some of our better courses are suffering because of the prices they are charging. When I go to the Carolinas, Michigan or New York State, their prices are affordable to golf every day I am there. At home, it is more expensive without a cart to play then the courses in those States with a cart on similar challenging courses.

So, say what you like about toughness of courses but understand the real reason is the price of golf. Like hockey, the expense to play is ridiculous and around here indoor soccer in the winter is booming and soon kids are just going to play outdoor games cheaper than they can play golf.

Pacman's avatar
Pacman wrote at 2011-03-08 17:17:46+00:00:

I suggest the CEO's all ready play with those rules which lends to their low-handicaps. Anyway, I don't believe golf is dying because courses are to difficult. In fact, golf has had it's boon the last 10 years and everyone has cashed in from the developers, to the manufactures. I think what we are seeing is an over abundance of quality golf courses in an economy that doesn't support the inflated green fees so these courses can pay their inflated mortgages.

Bill Brown's avatar
Bill Brown wrote at 2011-03-08 17:16:21+00:00:

You left out what I think is the most important factor killing golf - it's too damned expensive!!!!! A decent set of clubs costs around a thousand dollars. A round of golf at a decent course, even a muni, costs at least $35, and you have to wear a shirt with a collar and can't wear denim. I won't even mention the cost of a club membership. The same shirt that you can buy at J. C. Penny or Kohls for $20 costs $60 in a golf pro shop. A pair of golf shoes costs upward of $100 and usually falls apart after the second time you wear tham on wet turf. Lessons cost anywhere from $60 to $150 (or more) per hour, and there is always something new to learn. I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift. The average income individual just can't afford tha game anymore.

richard franklin's avatar
richard franklin wrote at 2011-03-08 17:09:40+00:00:

Pace of play is suffering due to players playing from tees not suited to their handicap level. Simple rule if you can't hit your drive to the 150 marker then move up to the next set of tees. Your scores and enjoyment will go up. Courses will not touch this issue because they do not want to offend anyone.

Joe Sutton's avatar
Joe Sutton wrote at 2011-03-08 17:05:10+00:00:

I live in Las Vegas, which was essentially ground zero for the building boom for nearly two decades. Many of the housing projects here were centered around a golf course, sometimes two courses, that ran through the development, and as stated in the article, they always had at least one set of tees that were nearly impossible for an average golfer to play from. Additionally, some of the higher-end courses' greens had such speed and contouring as to make them unputtable for any but the best players. Unfortunately, those courses that tended to be a bit easier around here also tended to be less well-maintained, leading to poor lies in the fairways and unpredictable lines on putts, making the game frustrating for players who knew what to do, but had been penalized by the poor conditions.

I've found that the more likely reason for declining golf revenue and participation here in Las Vegas has more to do with the courses' elevated expectations of how much revenue they should be generating. Green fees have been absolutely unreasonable on some of the courses as they apparently try to recoup their construction costs as rapidly as possible. It's only been recently that some of those more exclusive tracts have had the revelation that maybe they should drop the rates a bit to get somebody out there.

I realize this doesn't answer the subject question, but I think the difficulty of play is not so much the issue. If you want an easier game, you can always move to the shorter tees, or look for courses with a lower rating & slope. Maybe that's easy for me to say, with the preponderance of courses here in my area. Locally, what makes me decide where to play is dollars, not difficulty.

I do like that Kangarilla concept for use in a tournament or something, but only there. I don't think it's a good idea for every game a golfer plays, because I think it would lead to very long rounds while players tried to use a fairway wood where a lob wedge is called for. I see scores ballooning and frustration rising not only for the player but for anybody following him/her on the course.

Chris K's avatar
Chris K wrote at 2011-03-08 17:00:48+00:00:

A major part of Golf's appeal is its foundation of history and we shouldn't toy with the basic rules, or have different rules ("games") for pros and amateurs. However, in their quest for ever more beautiful and challenging couses, golf's architects have made most of their new masterpieces 'ballbusters' for the average player. I also think the golf press has to take some of the blame here, as most reviews of the "Greatest" and "Best New" courses don't grade theses courses for "playability by the average player". If a 12-20 handicapper, playing the appropriate tees, gets his brains beat out by a course, it's not really a "Great" course, and is doing harm to the game's popularity.

Frank's avatar
Frank wrote at 2011-03-08 16:59:38+00:00:

The concept of glow bowling attracted a new crowd of bowlers not otherwise interested in bowling, but did not replace conventional bowling. Kangarila might have a similar result.

Todd V's avatar
Todd V wrote at 2011-03-08 16:55:31+00:00:

90+ shooters might enjoy the game much more playing Flogton rules and the game is supposed to be fun and relaxing. As a single digit handicap, I am not going to play by those rules but I wouldn't mind playing with a group where some of the players used Flogton rules. They do anyway, as you mentioned, but with a level of shame that keeps them from enjoying it and if it was a given on the first tee that they would play that way, I think they would enjoy the game more.

Barbara Godwin's avatar
Barbara Godwin wrote at 2011-03-08 16:54:55+00:00:

I think this is a terrible idea. I'm over 65 and play in women's league play three times a week, and WE PLAY BY THE RULES! Most of us even know the rules. We do have a number of people who want to always have preferred lies and free drops out of the rough, and that is considered "old lady golf". I have played casual golf with various people but find I don't really enjoy myself when the rules are ignored - then its just a practice round.

John Salemi's avatar
John Salemi wrote at 2011-03-08 16:51:02+00:00:

I think this is a GREAT idea for supplemental golf games. The "purists" will always want to play the game by the rules. However, what a fun way to experience the game without being so formal. i can see the possibility of Clubs having an initial tournament and maybe expanding into a league. The game moves faster and leaves time to enjoy the 19th hole. Late starts on weekdays and weekends at reduced prices could generate a lot of income.

John's avatar
John wrote at 2011-03-08 16:49:51+00:00:

Yes and No. As a low handicap player I want to endure the same challenges that the pros do and I choose the most challenging courses. How else can I feel good about a birdie? But a group of 20+ hadicappers playing from the back tees will cause a 5-6 hour round. In Germany you need a liscense to golf (just saying). I think that a ranger should have the power to insist that a group move up a tee based on his/her observations. Also, without a verifiable HC the golf course can tell the golfer what tee to use (especially on a busy day).

Marty Javors's avatar
Marty Javors wrote at 2011-03-08 16:38:11+00:00:

We don't need a new set of Rules to play these games. Just go outside in a beautiful setting (on the golf course) and do it. Who would administer the multiple sets of Rules anyway? Nobody. The USGA has enough responsibility administering the Rules for the championships they provide. I think encouraging golfers to play with a 6 club set in a carry bag and walking would help the players and the golf courses; better health for the players and nicer fairways once we get rid of at least some of those golf carts. The course designers who place tees long distances from the previous green don't deserve to have their courses survive anyway. That's where the decrease in play is probably occurring. Those of us who enjoy the traditional game will always be here.

MM's avatar
MM wrote at 2011-03-08 16:37:58+00:00:

Worst ideas, ever.

I have no problem with thinning the ranks of both golf courses and golfers. The game isn't going to disappear from the face of the earth, and there's too many mediocre to poor golf courses anyway.

Quality, not quantity.

John's avatar
John wrote at 2011-03-08 16:31:30+00:00:

No argument here that golf may have overbuilt the 'demand side' of the market, and similar to housing, when bubbles burst there are problems. Even before that though, the difficulty issue you mention never seemed like the core issue to me. Rather, it was the "time" and "cost" elements that seemed to sour many of the golfers I knew. Including transport to/from the course and any reasonable time to warm up pre-round, you easily had 6+ hours invested...more if you socialized after the round with friends. With equipment, green fees and ancillary items all escalating as well, many friends I know found solace in spending 2 hours of dedicated time at the range working on all aspects of their game as an adequate alternative to a full day away from family and chores. Plus, they ended up with a lot more money in their pockets to entertain their families when they returned home. I think those are golf's 2 primary challenges going forward...available time and discretionary cash for the sport.

gk's avatar
gk wrote at 2011-03-08 16:23:26+00:00:

Let's dumb everything down. Go play an executive course.

allen's avatar
allen wrote at 2011-03-08 16:15:51+00:00:

golf does not need to be changed but it does have to be reconciled.

it is the only game in which the amatuer-weekend player does not play by the same rules and dimensions as a professional

e.g if you play tennis on the weekends the court, height of the net, etc is exactly what a pro would play

the rules of golf need to be reconciled so that it is understandable and equal for all players

don's avatar
don wrote at 2011-03-08 16:15:38+00:00:

Well, you could make bowling easier by getting a mulligan on each round.

You could shorten the sets to four on tennis

Golf is golf, but no one plays by all the rules unless you are a pro or have officials looking over your shoulder. Therefore, each casual round, or whatever type of golf game you are playing, if everyone plays by the same rules, then everyone has an equal chance of winning. So make up your own rules and have fun!!

You can't tell a long hitter not to hit the ball as far, so they will always have some advantage. So play within your class and hope that the handicap is fair.

I would bet that most golfers bet each hole anyway and make it so it evens out for each golfer.

In conclusion, if you are not going to turn pro, who cares.

Virgilio de Padua's avatar
Virgilio de Padua wrote at 2011-03-08 16:14:12+00:00:

Golf has survived just fine all these years. It has been affected by the same technology that has affected tennis. It is fine to have all these advantages for the amateur player. I believe that professional golfers, given their talent, should adhere to a stricter set of equipment guidelines, as their game is clearly set apart from the "average joes". Courses would no longer need to be superhuman. It flies in the face of all the profits the industry is making, but believe me, people will still lay out the money to improve their games. I play golf because of the challenge. I know it is a game I can play for life. If I need "Flogton or Kangarilla", I'll exhume Rodney Dangerfield & head for Bushwood.....Golf is undergoing the same economic contraction every industry is; it will survive this & Kangarilla...

None's avatar
None wrote at 2011-03-08 16:12:52+00:00:

Bad Idea .WAs this our congressman thinking of this?

marty errecart's avatar
marty errecart wrote at 2011-03-08 16:11:13+00:00:

Maybe a partial reason its dying is because institutions like the golf channel are turning the everyday municipal course player off. I don't get info or history of the game from the golf channel, because I don't care to see clowns like rush or donald (duck maybe) portrayed as the everyday duffer. I quit watching. Give me info on courses and products I can relate to. Showing me the priviledged turns my stomach.

werner retired's avatar
werner retired wrote at 2011-03-08 16:10:12+00:00:

Not easier but less costly in the answer to your problem . anything over $ 100 for 18 holes inclusive of a cart is to much. In bahia pricipe golf club { Riviera Maya Golf Club } the regular green fee is $ US 220 per player ! well not all of us are rich, sorry!

Daniel Ventura's avatar
Daniel Ventura wrote at 2011-03-08 16:09:25+00:00:

You may not want to hear my comments, but as an avid golfer I think the golf equipment manufacturers and golf course managers have lost touch with the rank and file players. In the present economic conditions golf has become too expensive, with a set of new clubs (woods and irons) costing $1.5K -$3.0K, green fees at courses featured on Golf Channel, CBS and NBC telecasts of $200 - $500/person per round, and some like Bay hill requiring that the players spend 2 nights at the resort to pay significant green fees for 1 round of golf. Perhaps the costs have reached the level of diminished returns. Have you looked at play at muni courses like Bethpage in NY where the green fees are not exorbitant. I'll bet the number of rounds at the Black course haven't declined. But these are just my comments.

Brad's avatar
Brad wrote at 2011-03-08 16:02:16+00:00:

I only took up the game of golf 8 yrs ago, at the age of 45, and I've gotten my handicap to a 12 over this time. It's respectable, but certainly not something to brag about. It's my goal to get it to a single digit. While this may be my own personal challenge, it needs to be set compared to other golfers playing by the same rules and on a similar general design of field. My Sunday morning group has always played loose with the PGA rules (we lift & clean, or place our ball from an unplayable lie, roll out of divots, etc), but nothing that would be sacrilegious to the game. I enjoy the challenge of measuring my game against other casual players. The difficulty of playing a challenging course is tempered by the idea that we are all playing the same course. We can't measure ourselves against the pro's, in much the same way that I would never measure my son's HS baseball team against the NY Yankee's, but the playing field and equipment are similar. If you love the game, whatever the game, you should enjoy the challenges, and enjoy watching the pro's play it better than anyone else.

Randy Cavanaugh's avatar
Randy Cavanaugh wrote at 2011-03-08 15:58:48+00:00:

Come on! its' the new courses that are too difficult?

The Game always has been "too difficult"...brutally so!

It is the expectations of un-skilled players that have changed and are in need a radical overhaul!

What once was a brisk walk by the sea, with momentary interruptions to advance a ball with a stick, has (particularly in the USA) evolved into a tortuously slow display of non-athletic over-achievers attempting to replicate medal play scores of highly-skilled tournament players.

C'mon folks, have a nice few hours (3.5 at the most) when on a course - even one you want to test yourself against the Pro's on! You'll lose - the only intrigue is by how many! Who cares? Certainly not me, especially when I am playing behind you!

1st - Forget stroke/medal play. Play a match against par (or bogey at worst).

2nd - Leave your errant shots wherever they came to rest after 60 seconds (not 5 or 6 minutes!)

3rd - Please limit practice of your 3 minute "pre-shot routine" to the range only.

4th - Just have a lash at it and move on, smiling...


Golf scores only matter on those reality shows on TV called PGA Tours! The rest of us should just have some fun, RELAX and enjoy a nice walk - the exercise is healthy! We don't need to change the Game so that everyone who plays is "good". We need to re-assess our expectations and get a grip on the reality that is inherent with Golf; it is harder than it looks... and those guys on TV are really good!

Rob Tyska's avatar
Rob Tyska wrote at 2011-03-08 15:55:42+00:00:

"Flogton" has existed for as long as I can remember. I have seen people forever playing something that is "not golf" which is fine as long as they are happy and aren't playing against me for money or in a competition. I'll stick to playing golf by the rules in tournaments and friendly competitions.

Ted's avatar
Ted wrote at 2011-03-08 15:54:05+00:00:

Forget about special games like Flogton and Kangarila. Accept the fact that golf is difficult - playing the same game as the pros lets you appreciate their skill, even when they mess up. Length of courses is not a problem - just encourage higher-handicap players to use forward tees. Narrow fairways, however, are the scourge of high handicappers; losing ball after ball takes all the fun out of the game. Finally, it comes down to price. There are too many $100 and up green fees. Give me a basic but nice course, green fees and a cart for under $40, and my wife and I can afford to play.

Michael Palmer's avatar
Michael Palmer wrote at 2011-03-08 15:46:19+00:00:

I think any creative idea of introducing the game of golf especially to our young is probably worth taking a closer look at.

I love the game and what it stands for. There are so many of life's lessons in a round if you think about it. One of the challenges is the time issue. You really need to invest the time if you are looking to improve your play.

Some things are too gimicky. I'd rather see more pitch n'putt courses (if they are in a climate where they can make a decent living/profit of course). It's much shorter in yardage and time invested. I have no problem with someone moving their balls or taking extra mulligans or fluffing up their lies if it makes it more enjoyable for them especially for beginners. Speeds up the game and they probably enjoy it more. Of course if you are playing in your club championships or playing someone for prizes - then golf should be played by the rules.

My wife started out by teeing up everyshot until she started making decent contact. She probably would of given up on the sport if it wasn't going to be fun. So, I like the new creative ideas (Kanga.. is probably like our children starting out with t-ball instead of baseball) provided it means these new players will move up and onto the the regular courses. The game has to be fun while still learning the proper ediquette...eventually....!


Michael Palmer

Steen's avatar
Steen wrote at 2011-03-08 15:45:33+00:00:

It's not that it's too difficult. It's that it takes too long to play 18 holes. Slow play is part of the problem. Most courses "suggest" 4 hours and 30 minutes, and then rarely enforce that. If my grade school kids can walk 9 holes in 2 hours, then why can't the adults? And they're in a cart! If you want to hit a half dozen range balls to warm up, roll a few on the putting green, play 18, have a beer're talking about 6 hours or more. Whenever I play as a single, it amazes me how little sense of urgency there is in a group. They never look behind, they never notice that we are a hole behind after 3. (And yes, I "help" them understand we are behind.) The answer is not more or better equipment (sorry golf manufacturers - the answer isn't another new driver), or different rules. No, the answer is EDUCATION. Education on what is expected in pace of play, how long to look for a lost ball, pay attention to your position on the course and knowledge of the rules that already exist-most of which address pace of play (please don't hit 'til your ecstatic on every tee box). Some of us have jobs, lives, wives, kids and grass to cut when (if) we get home.

Garth Harrington's avatar
Garth Harrington wrote at 2011-03-08 15:44:21+00:00:

Knock off the fiddling with the character of the game. Just play the correct tees, and put your ego in the unused ash tray in your cart. You DO ride a cart, correct?

By the correct tees, I refer to Robert Trent Jones "Golf by Design", in which he mentions that he builds his courses with multiple tees. If you've struck a solid, not spectacular drive on an average length par four, and you're not hitting a seven iron for your next shot....(Wait for it).....YOU'RE PLAYING THE WRONG TEES.

This would speed up play, produce an experience similar to the single handicapers and pros, and allow you to experience the course as it was designed to be played.

Garth Harrington

Medford, OR

Mike Vincent's avatar
Mike Vincent wrote at 2011-03-08 15:43:44+00:00:

You wonder why golf is hurting? Try paying for green fees in a poor economy! I did'nt see any golf course lowering their rates to attract more players! Most golf courses cater to the VERY WEALTHY who don't have any problem paying for green fees!

Jay's avatar
Jay wrote at 2011-03-08 15:37:03+00:00:

Doesn't sound like much of a solution. Want to get more people interested in golf? Make it more affordable.

Mike Jamison's avatar
Mike Jamison wrote at 2011-03-08 15:36:53+00:00:


The majority of weekend warriors are already playing some form of Flogton. I guess the question is, will the golf business be better off if it embraces these "not golf" rules and creates another sport for the weekend warriors. That is what is being suggested. It's not golf, but is it bad? Thanks for writing about it and creating discussion. It has possibilities.

The Kangarila? That's another story.

Rhonda Birdsong's avatar
Rhonda Birdsong wrote at 2011-03-08 15:32:10+00:00:

With today's economy, I think that one of the primary issues with participants dwindling at the courses are the greens fees! People don't have the 'extra cash' (or credit) to pay $50-100+) for a round of golf. I think it's a trend of the times, and until the economy shows a marked improvement, it will only get worse! That's my two cents worth!

GR's avatar
GR wrote at 2011-03-08 15:32:00+00:00:

Length/Difficulty is certainly a top consideration, along with costs of equipment, green fees and lessons. I also agree there should be seperate rules/regs for touring pros and your weekend handicap players. With all the expense of equipment and lessons, my handicap has dropped from a 13 to an 8. I don't think the blue bloods can say that I'm a threat to the integrity of the game, course or competition. I absolutely positively passionately L-O-V-E the game, but...

Epoluk's avatar
Epoluk wrote at 2011-03-08 15:31:28+00:00:

Are you serious??? Then I must be playing the wrong courses. It seems that more and more people are taking up the game and the school and youth programs are very strong in the sacramento area. I think most average players on every course play Flogton or should if they are honest about there skills and abilities. I don't see golf dieing I just see longer and longer rounds and more and more people taking up the game. Eileen

HDG's avatar
HDG wrote at 2011-03-08 15:17:06+00:00:

Golf needs to be cheaper to survive. The average cost of a decent set of clubs is $800-1000 and green fees are ticking up to the $80-120 range. This puts the price of golf out of the average persons grasp. I don't think changing the game to something else (Flogton) is really the answer. I want to play the game the way it was created and I would like to do it well. This requires good equipment and getting out to play. When you can't afford more than 1 or 2 rounds per month, and good clubs are way out of reach, your game will never improve. This creates frustration and people lose the love of the game.

Craig Better

Staff Writer

Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine,, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.