TaylorMade’s Faster Play Initiative Making Noise

Pundits Weigh In With Positive, Negative Reactions

Two weeks ago we wrote about a new golf initiative from TaylorMade CEO Mark King that suggested that abysmally slow pace of play was the primary reason golf continues to lose players and fails to attract new ones.

“One of my major frustrations with golf is its slow, rigid, inconsistent pace of play,” said King. “Quite simply, an 18-hole round of golf takes too long in 2014, especially for amateur and less avid players who are seeking fun. Five to six hours is a long time to devote to any single activity and in golf it’s especially long considering how little time is spent on the course actually swinging and advancing the ball.”

King’s revolutionary idea to speed up play and make golf more enjoyable? Increase the cup-size from 4.25 inches to 15 inches. Courses could even offer greensite hybrids: offer players a big and a little cup. Doing so, says King, may be key to reversing a trend that is threatening the sustainability of the game.

Since King’s announcement, traditionalists have chimed in with surround-sound opinions in no unmistaken terms. So far we’ve tallied dozens of reactions to King’s bigger-hole idea:

“This is one of the most ludicrous notions I have ever heard,” blasted one reader. “Fifteen-inch cups? Why not cut 100 yd wide fairways, fill in the bunkers, chop trees down and have no holes longer than 200 yds? Oh, and cut every fairway with a bend to the right so it’s ok to slice all the time.”

Said another: “We do not need to alter the game, we need to educate the golfing public on how to get around a golf course in a reasonable amount of time. We need to stop taking our cues from the PGA TOUR as well. The Tour has a serious pace of play issue too. The biggest issue is not being ready to play when it’s your turn… If you are ready before your playing partners, go ahead and hit!”

“You're thinking in the right direction, but I feel 15″ is just WAY TOO BIG,” opined a reader. “It might be OK for putt-putt golf, but not real golf. If there’s no challenge to the game, then what’s the point? If people just want entertainment, they can go to a movie.”

We did find a few positive remarks including this one:

“Simple, but brilliant,” said the responder. “I think the courses that test this will be pleasantly surprised at how many players, of all skill levels, will choose the 15-inch cup over the standard size. I was at the PGA show and had the chance to discuss this concept with quite a few golfers. One story I remember specifically was from a pro in the Midwest (I forget the name of the club) who did a ‘hard day’ at his course – holes tucked in very difficult locations, fast greens, etc., making the course play extremely difficult. The result – much to his surprise he admitted – [was] very unhappy members. ‘No one likes 4-putting,’ he said. Then a member asked him to try an easy day to which the pro reluctantly agreed. Larger holes [in the] middle of the greens. Result, he said, was a sold out day of golf and one of his biggest revenue days of the year in the restaurant. He said the members LOVED it and have been asking for another ‘big cup’ day ever since. Even scratch golfers loved making putts and shooting 65.”

One thing to consider: Through the ages, almost all golf equipment changes have been woefully controversial and slow to take hold. Remember the brouhaha that erupted when hickory shafts changed to steel; when persimmon lost out to metal; when steel shoe spikes lost out to plastic cleats; and when bell-bottoms pants gave way to straight leggings.

But: This isn’t a change in golf equipment. It’s a change in the field of play. Golf holes have been a standard 4.25 inches in diameter since the Royal & Ancient codified it in 1891. The origin owes to the standard diameter of the pipe used to fashion the first known hole-cutter, which is on display at the Old Course at St. Andrews. 

The debate continues…


TaylorMade’s New Faster Play Initiative

Mark King’s Open Letter and His Respondents

Letters From the Fringe

Chris Duthie is a contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer, the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it. It publishes eight issues annually and proudly delivers daily content via www.coloradoavidgolfer.com.