Here comes the… 15-inch hole?

"If we don't do something as an industry, we're going to wake up one day and be falling off a cliff."

Those words came out of the mouth of Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade, earlier this year when talking to a FORE magazine writer. He was commenting on the state of the golf industry, which is rapidly losing golfers and struggling to bring new people into the game. King, who's worked in golf for decades, swears something drastic has to be done.

Thanks to a creative idea from King himself, TaylorMade is giving "drastic" a try, last weekend hosting the first-ever 15-inch hole golf tournament. No changes to the Rules of Golf were made, except for this. Instead of using regulation-sized holes on the greens, 15-inch ones were used. And yes, a 15-inch hole is more than three times the size of a regular 4 ¼-inch cup.

"Golf is supposed to be fun. I would dare anyone to play golf this way and not have fun," said King.

He seemed to be right Saturday, as dozens of people headed to Pauma Valley CC for this inaugural tournament, hosted by TaylorMade. A putting contest prior to the round got people comfortable with the new hole. Well, sort of.

"It's a lot harder than it looks!"

"You'd think you could make everything, but that's certainly not the case!"

That's what you heard around the practice putting green before the round, as people took their first shots putting into the larger hole. As people missed putts by a couple of inches and had some rim out, it was clear the painful, essence of golf still existed. It was just slightly more rare.

King first played on a 15-inch hole years ago, at a tournament hosted by Golf Digest. The company set up a 15-inch hole on one hole at the event. Saturday at Pauma Valley, however, was the first time anyone, including King, played a full 18 holes this way. The rounds took a little more than three hours. And the one thing that was clear? Everyone playing had a blast.

Sure, the game was easier, but that's King's point. The probability to chip the ball into the hole from off the green rose significantly, King himself holing a lovely chip in from about 50 yards away, but who doesn't want to see the ball go in the hole after hitting a great shot?

And King isn't suggesting changing the Rules of Golf, but instead having an entry point for people interested in coming into the game. This bifurcation of the rules would allow newbies not to have to play by the same standards as TOUR pros.

“Nobody is saying that the game as it is now should go away. They’re just saying let’s have a bunny slope so that we can get people excited again.”

For more on the future of the 15-inch hole, stay tuned to scga.org.


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LeaderboardDoug

Handicap Index: 14.0
Saturday, April 26, 2014

Instead of cutting a 15 inch hole in the green, It would appear a much simpler approach would be to draw a 15 inch circle around the existing hole.  Then the course would be setup for players of all skills and provide the higher handicapper the option.  Since a strong putt could roll well past, perhaps even a much larger circle or even two circles could be drawn.

tizman1

Handicap Index: 35.6
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

This looks like it would be fun and would be a blast to have charity or fundraiser tournaments. BUT, THE REASON THE GOLF INDUSTRY IS LOSING SO MANY GOLFERS IS STRICTLY ECONOMICS! COURSES MUST LOWER THEIR GREEN FEES SO THE AVERAGE GUY OR GAL CAN AFFORD TO PLAY! THE COURSES WITH LOWER FEES ARE ALMOST ALWAYS BUSY! LOWER YOUR FEES AND THEY WILL COME!!!!!

acsr022

Handicap Index: NH
Tuesday, April 08, 2014

This seems a little a extreme to even be even taken seriously.  If you are losing market share I am sure there are better ways to promote the game then changing the dynamics of the game.  Tiger, in his height, opened the game to kids and minorities, that didn’t required a marketing gimmick.  You want the game to gain market share then design a strategic plan that address your lost market. The DRIVE, CHIP, and PUTT competition is a start, and that program is growing. Encourage or mandate courses lower their greens fees for a month to invite new players to come or take lessons. Offer free lessons to new players. I could go on and on, but nowhere would I suggest something this ridiculous.  Taylormade’s CEO may be under the microscope from his board shortly.

BobF

Handicap Index: 5.2
Monday, April 07, 2014

This is quite possibly the dumbest idea I have ever seen.

I saw the main problem starting years ago when it came to golf.  The courses that are built today are way too tough for the average player and the green fees are way too high.

The county courses are the perfect example of how golf works.  They are all decent courses at a reasonable rate and if you hit a bad shot, your ball isn’t gone.  I am a 5 and live in Yorba Linda and played Black Gold the other day and I have no clue how a player higher than a 12 could enjoy the course.

Also, the fact that there are not many Par 3 courses is a huge problem.  I grew up in Arcadia and we had the Arcadia Par 3 and my buddies and I played there all the time when we weren’t long enough to play Santa Anita.  Then, we eventually transitioned to Santa Anita and have been there for over 20 years.

Then in Brea, they closed the executive course Birch Hills and removed half the holes for an apartment complex and it still hasn’t re-opened and who knows if it will. 

But, to think that a 15 inch hole is the answer?  This is a joke and even somebody who wants to learn how to play golf would think it is stupid.

A beginner just wants to play a shorter course.  But, there aren’t enough of them and unless that changes I don’t care what you do.

One more note to the SCGA, you want to get more participation? Have your qualifiers on the weekend.

addedit

Handicap Index: 9.1
Monday, April 07, 2014

Dumb idea. This is the kind of idea that should cross your mind in a bar and never make it home with you. No serious sportsman or woman would play a course with these manholes. When I make a 40’ putt ,or a hole-in-one (I have 17), I want to know I made it the same way a pro would have to make it. No one who carries a handicap would play these either. Using this logic, why don’t we also make every hole 120 yards long and call them a par-5 so we can all have fun making eagles.

biveneu

Handicap Index: 23.0
Monday, April 07, 2014

I had this idea over a decade ago.  I was thinking of getting a patent on this concept and was trying to decide the size of the hole - 8 inch, 12 inch, etc.  Then there was the problem of the ball bouncing out and the big plug of an older hole.  Talked to friends about this but never followed through.  Yes, I think higher handicappers would enjoy it and it would speed up the game.  If a club would make it permanent, they could lower the price and still make money.

larrydeck

Handicap Index: 16.0
Monday, April 07, 2014

I don’t like it.  This would go to the essence of the game, like making a basketball hoop three times bigger.  What needs to happen is to adopt a relaxed set of rules for amateur golfers.  Rules could allow balls to be dropped for OB and lost balls, for example, and maybe more than the one or two club-lengths allowed for hazards, unplayable lies,etc.  Instead of a larger hole, just allow for gimmee puts in the rules.  That would accomplish the same thing.  I think somebody is just trying to make money on installing these larger holes.  High handicappers can have more fun playing off the forward tees, but I don’t see much of that being done.  Perhaps courses should require specific tees for certain handicaps.

9462708

Handicap Index: 9.3
Monday, April 07, 2014

I think this is a BAD idea.  The rules of golf has been stable for a very long time.  Dead golfers would turn over in their graves if they saw this!!  Stop destroying the game and play it right.  Find ANOTHER way to bring in new players.

TrojanHorse

Handicap Index: 20.6
Monday, April 07, 2014

There are a number of facilities in So Cal that have room for a full 18 regulation course and a shorter beginner/family set of holes.  Keeping beginners on their own, easier set of holes without the pressure of low handicap golfers stacking up behind them will make it more fun for them to come out and learn the game. Green River is a prime example.  They have the extra space now—do something useful with it.

acsr022

Handicap Index: NH
Monday, April 07, 2014

This seems a little a extreme to even be even taken seriously.  If you losing market share I am sure there are better ways to promote the game then changing the dynamics of the game.  Tiger, in his height opened the game to kids and minorities, that didn’t required a marketing gimmick.  You want to game gain market share design a strategic plan that address your lost market. The DRIVE, CHIP, and PUTT competition is a start, and that program is growing. Encourage or mandate courses lower their greens fees for a month to invite new players to come or take lessons. Offer free lessons to new players. I could go on and on, but nowhere would I suggest something this ridiculous.  Taylormade’s CEO may be under the microscope from his board shortly.