Monday, September 8, 2014

Golfers, growing the game, and the whining.....

I've been playing golf for over twenty years and something has increased every single year. Not the length of the tee shots, not the courses.  Nope all that pales in comparison to the whining that is taking place all over the golfing world. The ball goes too far, the hole is too small, we're losing people, why can't I wear a t-shirt, why are there so many rules?  It's enough to make a sane person's head explode.

The beauty of this great game is two-fold:   First, it allows you to be your own referee. You are the person who assesses your own penalties for wrongdoing. There are a set of rules and you are expected to follow them as a gentleman (or lady) and in not doing so, you're doing  a great disservice to yourself. Of course, should you be found to have broken the rules, the consequences imposed by a committee could be dire, depending on the infraction  - but even that is dealt with as gentlemen (or ladies) should. With class.   Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the game demands an unattainable perfection. That in itself can bring about great joy or incredible anger depending on what has happened. There is nothing about golf that should be easy. It's a game that molds and brings out the best in a person, and sometimes the worst. That being said, all of your shortcomings come to the forefront and the game allows you to address them. Afterall, if someone takes liberties and breaks the rules in an inconsequential little game (in their eyes) what's to keep them from following the rules in your business dealings (or the rules of dating your teenage daughter?!).

The more recent knee-jerk reaction to "losing players and interest in the game"  - which they're calling footgolf - is really nothing short of a pathetic attempt to be "in" and "cool" with the kids. Why in the name of all that's reasonable would anyone think there would be any increase in activity if it is fundamentally changed and merged with a completely different activity?

Why footgolf won't work in making more revenue and interest in golf:

1. requires another completely separate area of play from regular golf.
2. requires more to maintain the area and causes more irreparable damage to the area of play (ever try to put back a divot from cleats?)
3. no one will pay to play something that they can do at any public park in the USA. Get a wash basin, use sandals for tee markers.  Lowest score wins.
4. the few young people that do take interest will then go towards Soccer (or football if you're not in the USA) because it's not boring as piss, uses the same equipment, and they can actually make something of themselves in the sport.
5. it just...fucking.....won't.

Interestingly enough, there's other talk of how to "grow the sport". Two of these are: changing the rules and making the hole bigger.  Let's address the rules issue first, shall we?

Once again,  part of the beauty of the game of golf is in the rules. It's in being your own person and referee. If you remove or change those rules "because they're too hard" then you're taking away part of the core of the game. Memorizing and understanding the rules of golf is an exercise in mental capacity as well as common sense. The vast majority of the "major" rules in golf end up being common sense once you read and understand a few of them. Differences include the color of stakes in the ground - woooooooo don't let your head explode -- and the number of strokes taken as a penalty --- *POP*!!  You can do X and Y if the stakes are this color, and X, Y, and Z if they're this color.  HOLY SHIT!!! I'm confused adding one more option!! Give me some common core to learn this stuff!!  When you're playing for fun, anyone can tell you the rules are liberal as fuck. Go out on any golf course and you'll see people who have been playing for years kicking balls out of sand traps or away from trees, or rolling it over.  They're not going to be on tour any time soon but I'll bet you they're having fun and know the rules. They just don't give a rats ass to follow them. If you made the rules easier, they wouldn't follow those either.... but they're still having fun and they're not bothering or making things confusing for those of us who take the game seriously.

Now onto making the hole bigger..... Do I really need to explain this? OK... so go ahead and make the hole bigger. I'm instantly a +3 handicap from my -3. Now I can apply for the US Open and try to make my way onto tour--- wait -- you mean they're not going to make the hole bigger for everyone? Just the recreational golfers? Really? Oh... so how do I keep a handicap? What if the course I want to play doesn't use regulation holes? Do you see where I'm going with this? No? Let me hit you with a frying pan and then ask again...

Growing the game should not entail changing the game. If you look at all the other sports and the popularity thereof you'll notice some things - sex, the peak of physical performance, and advertising. Advertising in everything... from beer commercials to toys, to playing cards, to trick shots and special games.  Not saying that golf should have caddies in bikinis, but they're starting to get it. There's some good looking ladies on tour and man do they have the game to go with it!!  But seriously, what did golf do? From the beginning it has put all it's eggs in one basket. On one set of shoulders except once - when there were the big 3.  Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player grew the game like no one before them or since. They were good people and they were normal people. Whatever they did, good or bad, it was out there and people at it up. Tiger Woods is not a role model. He's an athlete. When he does something bad, the tour covers it up.  He's the golden boy. He's exempt from disqualification because he's Tiger Woods. He's exempt from penalty. Same now with Rory... Would the tour have forced Phil and Ricky to let anyone else hit up? Maybe Tiger, or Maybe Phil himself. Someone with star power.  How does a guy who has saved his whole life to get one shot at greatness compete with that? Now they've changed Q school and made it even harder to get on tour. There's no dream, now it's about a career. Golf has dug it's own grave. It's given in to, and continued to show that they care about the upper crust, not the underdog.   If you're nobody, then you'll never be somebody until you show you can be - we don't even want to hear it. You don't get a shot. Unless you're this good, you can't even attempt competition. Unless you've got this amount of money, you can't even get on a golf course.  It's an expensive, and elitest game in the eyes of many. Tiger Woods changed that when he came on the scene. People saw him as blue-collar just as they saw Arnie.  He got successful and pompous and aloof and people started to drop off the bandwagon and there was nothing to catch them. No redeeming quality. Sure the game has kept some people but he made fair weather fans, not life long nuts who will teach their children and friends and fathers and spouses the game.

Stop whining about how hard the game is. There's nothing wrong with this game, there's something wrong with the people who manage it. There's something wrong with the portrayal of the game and the type of people that should play. Put more emphasis on the type of person it MAKES YOU when you play the game, not the type of person you need to be before you start playing. Don't lower the bar to gain the masses, raise the masses to that level. Learn something, teach something, and maybe you'll get the numbers back and not just for a short time... for life.  Just maybe you'll get more people that embody the kind of love of the game that was shown in, arguably, the best golf movie of our time:

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