Over the last few months I've been suggesting a few ways that golf can change its model to do a better job of attracting new players and also make the game more fun for existing golfers.
The reaction to these, I'll admit, radical ideas has been very interesting. There are basically two types of responses. The first is the 'I walked to school barefoot in the snow uphill, both ways, and everybody else should do the same' school of thought.
It's hard to argue with these guys. It seems they would be happy if everybody else quit the game and left the golf course for their sole enjoyment.
According to many folks I've spoken with in the golf industry, we are on track for these hard liners to get their wish. And these guys better have plenty of cash, because as membership and participation drop, costs for the remaining golfers will surely rise.It takes a lot of money to keep a golf course operation up and running and that cash has to come from somewhere.
The second group is what I call the 'GIFNoTs'. It stands for Golf Is Fun, Not Torture. This group would like to get out and play but the barriers that hinder them are costs, time, and difficulty. This group is very receptive to concepts that include a larger cup, simplified rules, timed play and a more relaxed and less intimidating overall golf experience.
Many existing golfers have a strong interest in playing this way and it's also a great entry point for golf that currently doesn't exist.
A recent trip to a ski resort proved to me that golf can thrive using this model. Having two hole sizes and a strong emphasis on playing the correct tees on a golf course is akin to having snow boarders and alpine skiers on the same mountain with beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes. I saw a LOT of happy people that day. They were on skis and boards, steep slopes and bunny slopes, and they were coexisting quite nicely.
I believe we can do the same thing in golf. Call me a fool, but I think the 'Barefooters' and the 'GIFNoTs' can get along just fine. And for the sake of the game, we should all hope that I'm right.