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Golf: Too Tough And Tortuous

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Stan Sutherland
Stan Sutherland

“Over more than 40 years, our perception of what golf is all about has changed. How has golf turned into this torture thing?”

That’s from Emma Williams quoting Mark Parsinen the managing partner of Castle Stuart Golf Links who has said golf courses have to become easier to play in order to boost participation levels.

Fair play and eradicating the fear factor
Emma writes, “Castle Stuart’s ethos is based around four key points on course set up to help improve pace of play – rough, carries, green speed and pin positions, and bunkers.
‘Findable’ rough cuts down the time players spend looking for lost golf balls, eradicating carries reduces the fear factor in the average player and avoids them having the ball ‘in-pocket’ too often. Fair pin positions, greens that are not too quick and fewer bunkers can also help speed up play.

Change the paradigm

Mark Parsinen says, “…You can change the paradigm of golf and say ‘I don’t need to be playing the most difficult courses in the world. I need to find some engaging pleasure. I know I’m fallible. I make mistakes. And, why shouldn’t I cherish playing a golf course that gives me real chances for something good to happen, allowing some ‘fun’ even in the face of inevitable fallibility?”

Changing paradigms is possible but changing golf course developer’s attitudes is a sad story when you observe what’s been built in New Zealand in recent decades.
Tough courses like the Jack Nicklaus’ Kinloch, designed to cater for about 1% of the golfing population? Those who can afford the green fees and are daft enough to play such overly-demanding golf courses.

So what’s new?
Nothing really new in spite of the cry for greater participation in golf.
The other day I visited the newest golf course in New Zealand. So new it has yet to post its web site.
Wainui Golf Club, north of Auckland’s North Shore has been built to replace the Peninsula Golf Club which has been bought for housing development. Peninsula was your typical family friendly Kiwi course and an easy walking course. But now that’s all changed including a substantial increase in subscription fees.

Wainui is a wee bit over the top when compared to its predecessor but the saddest thing of all it does not have that comfortable Kiwi feeling of the old course and clubhouse and worst of all for the ageing membership it’s already being said, “First time but last time,” when it comes to walking the course.

The good news for those considering playing golf but are intimidated by the likes of Wainui is that just down the road there is a very pleasant 9-hole golf course. Tough enough but without the torture

Link to Emma Williams

Quote of the Day

“The logic that difficulty in golf is the way to identify the best players isn’t true, although it holds sway – to the dismay of the average golfer after a protracted and almost unnoticeable trend toward difficulty becoming the ‘be all and end all’ of golf design.” – Mark Parsinen


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