If I Ruled Golf
A bunch of us got into a heated discussion about golf yesterday … it reminded me of a column I wrote for a golf magazine 10 years ago … thought you’d get a kick out of it:
IF I RULED GOLF
Years ago, the band TEARS FOR FEARS had a hit song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”. Well, I don’t want to rule the world, but I do have some thoughts on how I would rule the world of golf.
Most of you know that golf has been flat for many years – maybe even shrinking. I sure don’t want golf to go the way of tennis (and I don’t think it will), but it could, and golf has to take a good look in the mirror.
The problem is pretty obvious: for a lot of people, golf isn’t any fun. Though golf looks easy, it’s a very difficult game and most people never play it very well.
So if golf is so hard, why do people play the game? Well, people need recreation, they love to be outside, and they’re looking for ways to spend time with friends and/or family. Fortunately, golf is a good vehicle for all of those preferences.
Ok, we’ve established that golf is difficult and that people are still willing to spend a lot of time and money at it because of recreational/social reasons … so, why do the powers that be make golf even more difficult and frustrating?
Don’t forget, golf was originally a game played by Scottish shepherds to pass the time while tending to their flock. They basically said ” I can hit this rock with a stick to that spot in fewer swings than you can”.
Their rules were few: don’t touch the rock with anything other than your stick, play the rock as it lies – unless you can’t because it’s lost or in water, etc. What a great game and what simple rules!
But in our modern quest to be “fair” we’ve ruined the integrity and basic simple beauty of golf by developing the USGA Rule book. If you love our modern world that’s full of countless rules and regulations, you’ll love the USGA rule book.
What about the golf swing and modern instruction? That’s as goofy as the rule book. Most of the stuff the average golfer worries about is nonsense. Golf is fundamentally hitting a ball with a stick – people need to train their hands and understand impact. That’s it. Stop the insanity. Minnesota has great golfers because we have so many hockey players. Obviously hockey players have trained hands … and they learn how to stick-handle without looking at the puck.
Golf course design. Are you kidding me? Who can or wants to play 7,000 yards? How about fairways guarded by hazards on both sides? How about severe undulating greens that stimp at 12? And, how about a constant diet of greens with no area in front to run the ball up on? Average golfers are not tour players – they can’t play those courses … not even most low-handicappers. Do you think that they have fun losing a dozen balls, shooting a million, being humiliated, and playing in a 5-6 hour death march?
One of golf’s beauties is that players of different abilities can play against each other due to the handicap system. This shouldn’t be rocket science. A player’s scores should be averaged and a handicap established. It can never be a perfect science, it’s just a reasonable way to try to provide a level playing field. Worried about sand-baggers? Why penalize everyone with a complicated handicap system? Just nail the cheaters. And don’t play with them.
Golf is a fabulous game. It doesn’t need people trying to make it cute … that’s the last thing it needs. It needs to go back to it’s roots of being a pure, simple game. But the rules, instruction, course design, and handicap system need some common sense.
GM and Head Golf Professional