The Cut : The Cut - Autumn 2017
66 THE CUT barometer of a one handicap, which I have had for over three years now. As I play mostly from the white tees, at about 5,500m, due to my 200m tee shot, I consistently score an average of 73 per round, or one over par. Now, if I play the blue tees at around 6,000m, I would average 76 for a four handicap. Likewise, from the black tees, at 6,600m, I would average 79, giving me a handicap of seven. The reason for the higher scores will be obvious in that my 200m tee shot, plus the 195m second shot turns holes over 400m into three-shot par-5s. Therefore, the benchmark for handicaps should be relevant to the tee the golfer uses – red, white, blue, etc. My understanding of the handicap system with slope and standard scratch is limited, but it should be focused more on the individual player’s average distance off the tee. My crusade is to benefit the club golfer so he or she has fun while playing an 18-hole round in three and a half rather than four and a half hours. I believe longer golf courses designed to keep up with advances in technology have added an extra 30 to 40 minutes to the time it takes to play a round. Another way to speed up play is to modify the Royal and Ancient’s Rules of Golf, which in my opinion are too daunting for the golf beginner. Try reading The Decisions on the Rules of Golf, which is six inches thick and growing! My suggestion is to simplify the rules to create golf that is ‘Faster, Forgiving, Friendly and Fun’. Obviously, traditional serious competition will continue to play with stroke and distance, provisional balls, attending flag sticks, searching for five minutes, two-stroke penalties etc... all adding to a frustrating day off the back tees. For 250 years, successive rules committees have been arguing over stroke and distance. In 1915 the US Open was won by Jerome Travers, who in the final round drove out of bounds and made a spectacular par four to win by a stroke. His OB was distance only with no extra penalty. As recently as the 1960s the USGA played the OB and Lost Ball rule as distance only, contrary to the R&A. The R&A and USGA recently standardised their interpretation of the rules and are currently working on simplifying them; not an easy task but necessary. Perhaps your club should give my rules suggestion for golf that is Faster, Forgiving, Friendly and Fun a try. In my previous feature for THE CUT, I talked about 30/30 golf in an effort to speed up the game, with 12 par-3s and six par-4s equating to par-60 for 18 holes. This method has proved extremely successful at the Clearwater Club in Christchurch. It has also been a good source of revenue for the club due to great support from players and sponsors alike. In fact, it has been oversubscribed because the club has only 40 carts! The 80 players who tee off at 5.30pm are finishing their nine holes of golf at 7pm – one and a half hours for nine holes of fun taking a golf cart equates to less than two hours walking. I believe nine-hole golf has a great future due to the issue of time, something we all seem to have less of these days. In order to save the game, there should be no stigma attached to nine- hole golf becoming the norm. It’s not a new phenomenon, after all. Did you know that prior to World War ll the USA had more nine-hole than 18-hole courses? It is most heartening to learn that France has committed to building dozens of nine-hole executive courses prior to the 2018 Ryder Cup. Perhaps some of this country’s struggling clubs should consider converting to nine holes in order to cut costs. But I would suggest they first try shorter tees for women and youngsters. Look closely at my distance suggestions for red and green tees. I sincerely believe more women would be attracted to golf, albeit nine holes, by using shorter tees where they are able to reach par-4s in two shots rather than three or more. I have played alongside women who struggle to reach a par- 3 in one, par-4s in two and par-5s in three. Just think how much more attractive the game would be to the weaker player if they were taking fewer strokes and playing faster rounds. In order to grow the great game of golf we must think outside the square. Being able to play shorter courses that take less time to get around makes good sense and fits better with our busy lifestyles.
The Cut - Summer 2017
The Cut - Winter 2017