I just returned from a golf-less weekend in Michigan trucking my daughter off to school, noticing that players up there are already layering up to play their last rounds of the season. Upon crossing the magic bridges from the mainland to our Island retreat, with the weather cooperating perfectly (I told you last month that Mother Nature understands the Labor Day weekend is the time to finally turn down the thermostat), I was left to wonder what else could make the game even more fun, and a lot less frustrating. And to the rescue comes Jack Nicklaus?
He held a series of events over Labor Day weekend at Muirfield Village in suburban Columbus, OH that featured 8-inch diameter cups (about twice the size of regulation holes) and just 12 holes, seeking to cut the time for a “round” to 2-1/2 hours. Not sure I’m ready for that drastic a change in my game, but Jack’s also endorsing something that the PGA of America is promoting and several Island golf courses are also encouraging. Its called “Tee it Forward”, an effort to make the game make more sense to play for all of us by having us play courses from tees that allow us to have a second shot at the green just like the pros do, removing the stigma of the “red” or “senior” or “ladies” tees for shorter hitters who’d have a lot more fun playing the game if they could get if off the tee and not face another long, long approach to the green.
For a player who drives the ball 200 yards (they don’t say straight), a course distance of 5,200 to 5,400 yards would be appropriate. The sliding scale from there would likely leave you inside 150 yardsyou’re your approach shots to par-4s and might even make a few of the par-5s reachable in two (and how much fun would that be)! Finding more fairways off the tee, and hitting the ball fewer times (especially those nasty 2nd and 3rd tee shots) will also speed up play, something we can all root for.
Off the Island, Crescent Pointe, a challenging Arnold Palmer layout, and two of the Heritage Collection’s layouts on the Island, Shipyard and Oyster Reef, are on-board with the PGA’s experiment and likely many more courses will follow. Don’t we beat ourselves up enough in this game without making it harder by letting our egos get in the way on every tee? Golf’s supposed to be fun, masochistic fun sometimes, but a lot more fun than we make it. Come to think about it, maybe that 8-inch cup idea of Jack’s isn’t so bad after all!