Majestic St. Andrews (Tucker/Worldgolf.com)
I believe that the game of golf is too difficult, too expensive and too time consuming. By the time you can earn a living to be able to afford the game, you don't have the time to play. Not to mention all those years you missed out on learning how to play.
For years I have envisioned a particular type of golf course that is challenging and still maintains the essence of the game, yet addresses three of golf's greatest challenges - difficulty, expense and the time it takes to play. Here's what it would look like:
- This golf course will be based on the model of St. Andrews - an open field style course with a limited number of hazards. There will preferably be no water and a limited number of very shallow, firm shell-based traps that encroach on the tee shots. These shallow traps will be in play for multiple holes as they straddle the space between preferred avenues of play.
- The length will still be there as every golfer loves to swing away at the driver, but there will distance specific tee boxes vs. ego or gender specific options. For example, if you hit an 8 iron 150 yards+ you'll play the back tees (which would never measure more than 6,500 yards long), if you hit an 8 iron 125-150 then you play the next set up and all the way to somebody who hits an 8 iron less than 75 yards.
- There will be no rough on the golf course. Closely mown fairway from wall to wall!
- The greens will not have any bunkers or other hazards around them. They will be raised and feature tightly mown grass swales as their interest feature. This is most important as it is still a challenge to the better player who must make par, yet for the average golfer it is a decidedly easier shot than the one played from a sand bunker. Putt the ball onto the green, two putt and make a net par!
- Alister Mackenzie once said that out of all of golf's hazards, undulation is best. Whether it's water, sand, rough, or wind I love a golf golf course that utilizes this subtle hazard as its primary defense. The course will feature fairly severe undulation countered with flatter lies in the optimal playing areas. Once again, still challenging for the good player, yet easier than traps or water for the higher handicapper.
As these two photographs from Ballybunion illustrate - there is ample challenge in firm ground and subtle undulation without the need and expense of bunkering. The left picture is the side of the 13th green (thanks Dot!) and the one on the right is the approach to the 17th green.
- The golf course must be public with a tangible price break for locals. Anybody and everybody is welcome to play!
- There will be no golf carts or cart paths, which not only cost too much, but very often detract from the playability and aesthetics of a golf course.
- There will only be two heights to the grass on the course - the greens and everywhere else! This will save greatly on maintenance.
- Due to the fact that the limited bunkering will be firm packed crushed shells there will be no need for rakes - another cost saver.
The Time Factor:
- The answer here is simple - three options for play with each being six holes!
- The tees will be located within easy walking distance of the previous green (just like all great courses!) and if you are choosing just to play a "quick six" you should be able to be done and out of there in an hour!
In summary we have a full length golf course with tees for every level of golfer; the course is enjoyable and a challenge to all; playing fees and maintenance costs are minimal; a family of four can get in and out in under two hours comfortably; and nobody should ever lose a ball! (well, just about!)
Can you imagine what it would be like to play a few holes before or after work each day? Or how about bringing the family out for six holes before dinner? Wouldn't it be nice to walk the course, carry your bag and shoot an encouraging number? I would love to see it happen. What do you think?