Let us explain the 15″ cup

I’d like to take this opportunity to address some questions and what we believe some possible confusion surrounding the 15″ Cup initiative.

First let me address some history and how we (Par Aide) are involved. The 15″ Cup was the brainchild of Taylor Made and came to life via a project they are calling “Hack Golf”. This is a project designed around growing the game of golf. Hack Golf is an open forum for people to comment and give thoughts/ideas on ways to grow the game…that has been steadily declining. Golf is losing golfers, rounds are down, revenue is down to facilities and courses are closing and are projected to continue to close in the US at a staggering rate over the next 10 years. We need to look outside the box and think of different ways to grow the game and this idea is just one of them. Taylor Made announced their investment in this project at the 2014 PGA Show and approached Par Aide to partner with them in production of the cup, hole cutter, flag sticks, flags and tee markers. A kick off event was held at Reynolds Plantation on the Monday after The Masters where sports writers from across the country were introduced to the 15″ Cup idea. Since then, many articles have been written about that event and the 15″ Cup.
This is where we see some of the confusion happening as many of these commentaries have missed the mark. The 15″ Cup is NOT designed to replace a regulation cup. It is not meant to be used in normal everyday play for an avid golfer. It is not something anyone is trying to promote to change the integrity of the game. It is meant to be just one more idea to attract beginners, kids, etc to the game. Its hard to argue that the game of golf, that we are all deeply invested in, needs to find ways to grow. Attract new golfers. Increase rounds. Increase revenue. Again, In no way, shape or form is the 15″ cup meant to replace a regulation cup, rather, the thought is that it could be used in conjunction with a regulation cup to offer beginners a different target to putt to. Think of it like tee ball for baseball. Lowering the rim and using a smaller ball for basketball. Bumpers for bowling. Or any other sport that makes modifications to attract beginners and make the game easier and less intimidating for them. Other than shorter clubs and Jr. Tees, golf is not doing much to make an extremely difficult game easier, less intimidating and more inviting for say a 6 year old.

Will the 15″ Cup be for every club? Of course not. And Mark King, CEO of Taylor Made, who has committed $5 million to growing the game of golf readily admits this. But to his credit, he is doing something about it whether it works or not.

Does the 15″ Cup come without a number of maintenance issues for Golf Course Superintendents? No, obviously. That is where we come in and why Taylor Made chose to partner with us. We are doing everything we can to make the process as easy as possible for our customers. We are looking at different ways to cut the cup, mowing practice when the cup is in play, designs in the actual playability of the cup, etc.

While this idea doesn’t come without its fair share of “issues” we hope our customers as well as the golfing community can understand what the true goal of this project is. To grow the game of golf and preserve its future.

Dan Brown

Sales & Marketing Manager

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I’m Back!

It’s not that I went away, it’s just that I got lazy. So here is a way delayed blog that is important reading for you, if over 50 years old, or for any golfers you know who are over 50! These new rules are long overdue!

New PGA Rule Changes for Seniors

Rule 1.a.5
A ball sliced or hooked into the rough shall be lifted and placed on the fairway at a point equal to the distance it carried or rolled into the rough with no penalty.  The senior should not be penalized for tall grass which ground keepers failed to mow.

Rule 2.d.6 (B)
A ball hitting a tree shall be deemed not to have hit the tree.  This is simply bad luck and luck has no place in a scientific game.  The senior player must estimate the distance the ball would have travelled if it had not hit the tree and play the ball from there.

Rule 3.B.3(G)
There shall be no such thing as a lost ball.  The missing ball is on or near the course and will eventually be found and pocketed by someone else, making it a stolen ball.  The player is not to compound the felony by charging himself or herself with a penalty.

Rule 4. c .7( h )
If a putt passes over a hole without dropping, it is deemed to have dropped.  The law of gravity supersedes the Rules of Golf.

Rule 5.
Putts that stop close enough to the cup that they could be blown in, may be blown in.  This does not apply to balls more than three inches from the hole.  No one wants to make a travesty of the game.

Rule 6.a.9( k )
There is no penalty for so-called “out of bounds.”  If penny-pinching golf course owners bought sufficient land, this would not occur.  The senior golfer deserves an apology, not a penalty.

Rule 7..G.15( z )
There is no penalty for a ball in a water hazard, golf balls should float.  Senior golfers should not be penalized for manufacturers’ shortcomings.

Rule 8.k.9( S)
Advertisements claim that golf scores can be improved by purchasing new golf equipment.  Since this is financially impractical for many senior golfers, one-half stroke per hole may be subtracted for using old equipment.

Please advise all your senior friends of these important rule changes.

NOTE: these rules only apply for the over 50’s.

New Book on Golf

If you have a golf book collection or really love the game this book is for you. I am not sure who the author is but this was forwarded on to me by Stan Kinkead, who many of you will remember was the President of National Mower until it was sold to Ariens some years ago. Thanks Stan!

“You may not know it but I’ve been very busy over the past 2 years putting my thoughts and ideas together in a book about Golf.  I am very proud of the results and in order to market the publication, I am asking friends and family to be the first to own a copy.

Here’s the Table of Contents from my new book, “Winning Golf Strategies,” which I believe gives the reader valuable playing tips and insider information that I’ve gained through my own years of experience in the game and observations of golfing partners.

Table Of Contents

Chapter 1 – How to properly line up your Fourth putt.

Chapter 2 – How to hit a Nike from the rough when you hit a Titleist from the tee.

Chapter 3 – How to avoid the water when you lie 8 in a bunker.

Chapter 4 – How to get more distance off the Shank.

Chapter 5 – When to give the Course Marshall the finger.

Chapter 6 – Using your shadow on the Greens to confuse your opponent.

Chapter 7 – When to implement Handicap Management.

Chapter 8 – Proper excuses for drinking beer before 9 a.m.

Chapter 9 – How to urinate behind a 4″ x 4″ post , Undetected.

Chapter 10 – How to rationalize a 6 hour round.

Chapter 11 – How to find that ball that everyone else saw go in the water.

Chapter 12 – Why your spouse doesn’t care that you birdied the 5th.

Chapter 13 – How to let a Foursome play through your Twosome.

Chapter 14 – How to relax when you are hitting three off the Tee.

Chapter 15 – When to suggest major swing corrections to your opponent.

Chapter 16 – God and the meaning of The Birdie-To-Bogey Putt.

Chapter 17 – When to regrip your Ball Retriever.

Chapter 18 – Use a strong grip on the Hand Wedge and Weak Slip on the Foot Wedge.

Chapter 19 – Why male golfers will pay $5.00 a beer from the Cart Girl and
give her a $3 tip, but will balk at a $3.50 Beer at the 19th Hole and stiff the Bartender.”

12 holes – Part 2

Golf is just too damn long. I have written about this before and because it’s my blog, I am going to write about it again.

In Part 1, I believe I fairly accurately presented my personal experience that leads me to want to play 12 holes and be done. Here are some more reasons:

1. Time: One of the complaints for the trickling down of interest in golf is the time commitment required. With the pressures on time from both employers and family, and especially considering the immediacy of communication through the internet, 4-6 hours away is just not acceptable anymore for many. And consider the Y Generation who I would contend has developed a much shorter attention span (again internet?). (And by the way, this generation, 18-34 year olds, is playing much less golf than previous ones.)
2. Maintenance: If future golf courses were designed as 3 six hole loops, or established ones rerouted, think of the maintenance flexibility. Close one nine for aerification or play disruption repairs. This is not a new idea. It was discussed at the NGF Summit in 1988, and pretty much ignored as developers, and big ego designers and owners, insisted on “Championship” layouts.
3. Cost: I realize that building 3 six hole loops is no cheaper that a full 18 but what if the goal was to make affordable golf, designed for less maintenance, a return to the clubhouse at the 6th, 12th, and 18th green. More beverages, snacks, etc. Would more golfers be attracted for more after work or evening rounds? Could more corporate outings be scheduled? Six and done might work much better for full company outings including their non-golfers or a quick break at conferences.
4. New players – kids/women: In my mind this is the critical and most important reason. Golf is definitely losing a bit of its popularity and it is known and documented that the fall off has as much or more to do with the lack of new golfers in spite of their interest in learning/playing the game. Dedicating one 6 hole loop regularly for new golfers, kids and women who are truly and rightfully so, intimidated by “the golfers” who do not want to be bothered with the “others”. In fact, it is suggested and I think true that it is the low handicappers who exhibit the most objection to beginners – the very people we all need to perpetuate the game into the future.
5. Why not? Where’s the magic in 18?: There is a stigma about playing 18 holes, like it’s not really a true game without completion. Why? Do bowlers feel unfulfilled if they only play two games? Do kids on the playground feel committed to playing 9 innings of ball? Isn’t the whole object to get out and enjoy the game and all that comes with being out there on the course? How about we loosen up and treat golf like any other athletic activity – playing for fun, exercise, camaraderie.

So there you go. Heresy I am sure to the purists. I just have found that since I put fun back into the game, it really has become fun. Wouldn’t be nice to play in a Monday scramble that ended after 12 holes, in 3 ½ hours instead of 18 in 5-6? Plenty of time for refreshments, snacks or even a meal and be home at 6:00 pm. Anyone up for a quick 9?

12 Holes – Part 1

I started playing golf again. Yes after throwing a club 8 or nine years ago and giving up the game, I’m back! Came back with a whole new attitude – pick up the ball after 7 or 8 strokes and don’t worry about a handicap. Worked great the first time out. Didn’t expect much and didn’t get much. I’ll get better I thought as I medicated away the pain from swinging well over 100 times. Well I didn’t get better and that’s when it was decision time: either I quit again, this time forever, or get lessons. It was just too embarrassing, as don’t you know that anyone who finds out what I do for a living just assumes I am a low handicapper who spends most days on the links. And, it wasn’t just the embarrassment of being horrible. I found I had to use found lost balls to keep playing after losing the 15 or so I had in my bag to begin with. Really.

The solution came after following the advice of one of the guys who told me about a teaching pro named Dennis Meyer who teaches out of a club in the Naples area. It’s working and by the way I would recommend him to anyone who needs help. Unfortunately, he is in so much demand that getting in is tough. I am now getting better and still just fine with picking up on a bad hole and to not worry about a handicap. However, I played 16 holes the other day and teed off on 16 with only the second ball out of bag. Then went on to lose 4 more on last 3 holes. Damn. This game is expensive.

But, I am still committed to getting better. It’s just that I have come to the conclusion that the game of golf is just too damn long. I don’t care if it originated because that’s how many shots are in a bottle of whiskey, or that’s all the land that was available for first course, or more likely, the way Robin Williams explains it in one of his stand up acts. (Highly recommended but not if you are sensitive to the “F” word being tossed about a lot. Just Google Robin Williams Golf.)

By the time I am through 13 or 14 holes I am done. Time to take shoes off and have a cold one! Been out there for 3 hours or so and that’s enough. Enough sun, enough time, enough yardage, enough swings – I am physically and mentally tired. Who’s with me? It’s just between us. Your buddies will never know how you really feel. I want to play 12 holes – just 12. Twelve hole tournament? I’m in!

You have read about this topic before if you follow my blog – one of the tens that do – and in Part 2, I will make my case.

Growth of Golf

Recently, I attended the 5th Annual NGF Symposium. As in each preceding year, the content was timely and well presented. This is an annual meeting of leaders in the golf industry, mostly from the Pro and equipment side of the business. However, as we are all in this together, it’s the growth of the game that matters most to all of us, and that was the focus of this Symposium.

Dr Joe Beditz, Greg Nathan and their staff put on a great program and what I want to address here is a new look at the numbers that are so often tossed about to describe the growth or lack of within golf. It is often said that the game of golf is losing participants and that is true. This is also automatically attributed to time and cost obstacles. However, Dr Beditz has done a detailed study on this and has determined that the golfers we are “losing” were not likely golfers at all. So who are we “losing”?

Instead of identifying participants in golf in one of two categories, core or occasional, as has been done historically, Dr Beditz, through surveying has redesigned the categories to more accurately address the true nature of the individuals. He has come up with five categories:

  1. Nuts: Cannot play the game enough
  2. Hooked: Really enjoy playing and regularly do so
  3. Fun: Like to play
  4. OK: Will play if talked into it
  5. Nots: Will not waste their time

Interesting and not too hard to categorize yourself and others.

The survey conducted showed income levels across all 5 categories varied very little which means that if a person really likes the game, cost is not an issue. It follows that if a person really likes the game, time is not an issue either. These people, Nuts and Hooked find the fun, exercise, and challenges of golf to provide value that is worth the money and time. These are not the folks we are “losing”. The OK’s and Not’s are those folks. Usually, they are introduced to the game by a relative and/or friend and as might be expected the experience is miserable. Not fun to pay for the opportunity to make a fool of oneself and being unable to make reasonable contact with the ball with any consistency.

It’s unlikely that the Ok’s or Not’s will be easily convinced that the value is there. However, it is not a stretch to believe that the Fun’s can be converted to Hooked at a minimum. The simple truth is that we, as industry partners, need to look for creative ways to improve the experience for the Fun golfers.

There are some 20 million of these folks. It is not hard to see the potential, within reach, to significantly expand the number of participants enjoying our great sport.

I will follow with a subsequent blog on some ideas that are working for others.

Let’s Play From the Tips

How many times have you heard that or even suggested it? Of course, it’s fun to see how you would do but you will not be playing the course the way it was designed, unless of course you are a very low handicapper.

My point of this blog is to again highlight the barriers to golf’s growth: Accessibility, Time, and Difficulty. In this case the focus is on difficulty and the trend over the past 20 years to build “monsters”, the development of which I am convinced is totally related to ego of the architect and/or owner.

In my last blog, I mentioned a meeting with Mr. John Bryan, Vice President of U.S. Kids Golf. At the January PGA show, these folks had available a chart showing the appropriate course yardage for a player, based on a golfer’s driver carry distance. I have attached the chart at the bottom of this blog entry for you to see. This chart was developed after a lot of research and while it is geared to promote U.S. Kids Family Course markings, I think it is interesting when considering course development.

A PGA Tour player, figuring Driver Carry Distance of 270 yards is just fine with a 7,300 yard layout.  However if your carry distance (before any roll) is 230 yards, an appropriate course yardage for you is just under 6,300 yards. If 190 yard carry, 5,200 yards is the right distance. Wow. No wonder I struggle mightily on the “monsters”.

So then I got curious and contacted Greg Nathan with the NGF. I wanted to know the percentage of golfers who shoot in 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, etc. Here it is:

 Score All Golfers
<80 6%
80-89 23%
90-99 29%
100+ 42%

Now my hunch is that over 70% of golfers are playing courses over their ability and this would certainly add to the frustration with difficulty, whether perception or reality. I am in that group.