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PGA of America launches 'task force' to increase play

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UNIVERSITY PLACE, WA - JUNE 21: (L-R) Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald across the sixth green during the final round of the 115th U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay on June 21, 2015 in University Place, Washington. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)  - 

With trends continuing to show that Americans are playing less golf, the PGA of America has assembled a 10-person task force to combat an overall decline in play through "non-traditional" means.

The panel will include individuals with diverse experience and backgrounds, the organization announced Wednesday, and seek solutions "that can be quickly actioned against and implemented by PGA professionals and the industry at large."

"There is nothing that I have been a part of to date that is more important and has greater opportunity," said PGA of America president Ted Bishop, who will be joined on the task force by Pete Bevacqua, the organization's CEO. "The golf experience needs to be redefined. For many people, the traditional 18-hole round simply doesn't work."

Among the ideas offered by Bishop during an appearance Wednesday on "Morning Drive" were the introduction of "foot golf," where players navigate the course by kicking a soccer ball toward a 21-inch hole, and introducing a "more relaxed set of rules" for recreational players. Bishop also proposed the use of a time clock in pro shops, where players who don't have enough time to play nine or 18 holes could "punch in" and "punch out," receiving a prorated greens fee based on the amount of time they spent on the course.

During the PGA merchandise show in January, TaylorMade-adidas Golf CEO Mark King unveiled "Hack Golf," a similar movement aimed at halting the trends in recent years that show that fewer and fewer Americans are playing the game, and those that do play are playing less. King will also be a member of the task force, and Hack Golf will be utilized to "crowd source" many of the group's innovative concepts.

Other group members include Golf Channel host Damon Hack, former major winner and current PGA board member Dottie Pepper; Olympic skiier Bode Miller; former NFL player Melvin Bullitt; Golf Digest's Ashley Mayo; Top Golf's Tom Dundon; and Arlen Kantarian, who led a similar charge for the USTA to reverse participation trends in tennis.