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GEARS: A game-changing technology for golf instruction and club fitting

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There seems to be a debate in golf instruction concerning old-school versus new-school teaching. I think the discussion is mostly academic and largely a product of the golf blogosphere, which is in reality an amalgam of disparate ideas, the sum of which can lead to more confusion than clarity. The point is that any good teacher of the game should be a student of all the new science while striving for the simplest ways to convey the data to their students.

Imagine taking a golf lesson that removes any doubt about what your golf swing is doing. Imagine having the confidence to know exactly what to work on. Even picture a scenario where you can virtually see yourself on every swing. It’s a reality with a new technology called GEARS golf.

GEARS, which stands for Golf Evaluation and Research System, was launched at the PGA show in 2014 after five years of development. It’s a full swing, club and body-tracking system used by PGA pros, club fitters, teachers and equipment manufacturers to measure tiny nuances in full 3D from address to follow through. Unlike Trackman and FlightScope, it’s not a Doppler radar system; it’s a motion-capture system built on the same technology used by biomechanists and filmmakers. With GEARS, eight 1.7-megapixel cameras run at 360 frames per second creating measurements as fine as 0.2 mm. There are no wires, and it works for any golfer and any golf club.

“GEARS is the most accurate golf swing tracking system on the planet,” says Michael Neff, Director of GEARS Sports. And I believe him.

A typical indoor setup of Gears.

A typical indoor setup of Gears. The system can be transported inside and out and from course to course.

In my many years of teaching our game, I have always found it necessary to ask three simple questions:

  • What is the ball doing?
  • What did the club do to influence the ball?
  • What did player do to influence the golf club?

GEARS is the only system I have ever found that answers all three questions with absolute certainty, thanks to its ability to analyze over 600 images per swing in less than a second. In the videos below, you can see just a few examples of what the system offers.

Club Head Speed and Club Face Contact

Attack Angle

Club Head Path

Some golfers, and even some golf instructors might consider this too much detail. Why would anyone need this much information? Well, you may or may not… but why not have access to all the accurate information you can and then simply take from it what you need?

You can use the info GEARS provides for a thorough club fitting, or find the things you need to work on in your swing. Remember the avatars you see in these videos are of YOU swinging the golf club. The data gathered is the true trace of the arms, body, wrists and all parts of the golf club throughout the entire swing.

Many of you who read my GolfWRX articles know me as a non-technical teacher, and to a large extent I do try to simplify my instruction and condense the information as much as possible. But non-technical is not to be confused with unscientific or irrational. Everything any good teacher does must be based on the latest research in the field and GEARS represents that horizon. Three-dimensional analyses are at the forefront of where teaching and fitting is right now, and to disregard it is a disservice to our students. What I particularly like is that GEARS can offer me measurements, not estimates, and that is the essence of the this cutting edge system.

There are currently 32 GEARS systems in the United States. Systems sell for about $32,000, and golfers can book time on a system for roughly $200-$250 for 1-2 hours. Email info@gearssports.com to learn more.

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Dennis Clark is a PGA Master Professional. Clark has taught the game of golf for more than 30 years to golfers all across the country, and is recognized as one of the leading teachers in the country by all the major golf publications. He is also is a seven-time PGA award winner who has earned the following distinctions: -- Teacher of the Year, Philadelphia Section PGA -- Teacher of the Year, Golfers Journal -- Top Teacher in Pennsylvania, Golf Magazine -- Top Teacher in Mid Atlantic Region, Golf Digest -- Earned PGA Advanced Specialty certification in Teaching/Coaching Golf -- Achieved Master Professional Status (held by less than 2 percent of PGA members) -- PGA Merchandiser of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Golf Professional of the Year, Tri State Section PGA -- Presidents Plaque Award for Promotion and Growth of the Game of Golf -- Junior Golf Leader, Tri State section PGA -- Served on Tri State PGA Board of Directors. Clark is also former Director of Golf and Instruction at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. He now directs his own school, The Dennis Clark Golf Academy at the JW Marriott Marco Island in Naples, Fla.. He can be reached at dennisclarkgolf@gmail.com

49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. ooffa

    Oct 11, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Garbage

  2. Dan Sueltz

    Oct 5, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I have used the GEARS system and it has some extremely good information for clubfitting as well as instruction. For clubfitting, it has the best information for tempo, transition, release and face contact (of course the other important stuff like club/ball speed, smash, launch, spin and attack angle). Trying to figure out the exact combination of shafts that will make our fitting sessions even more productive before we pull the trigger on this system. Reason is that it takes a while to calibrate the shaft/head combination so it could be cumbersome in a fitting if you do not have the right combinations to begin with. Love the system though…of course I am a techno geek that has seen the evolution of clubfitting and this is the next great thing. Great job GEARS!

  3. RJ

    Sep 27, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Hey Dennis,
    Good stuff as usual. I am all about the technology in the game also. How the info is dispersed to the student is the key, bird like portions work best I have found.
    Trackman has parameters that never see the light of day at our place and Gears is no different. Most of the time I do not even show the numbers, only discuss them so they can focus on the task at hand. Unfortunately there are a few that are very traditional when it come to the sport and like the “Keep it simple stupid approach”. Keep on writing and I will keep reading Pro.. Best wishes and good health!

  4. Shankmaster

    Sep 22, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    At what point is the golfer overwhelmed with information?
    How does he/she know what part of the swing needs to be “fixed” first?
    According to this system what is a “correct” swing?
    What would this system tell about Jim Furyk, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and Chi-Chi Rodriguez swing?

  5. emerson boozer

    Sep 20, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Dennis, great, great. Article. Tech has improved my game more in the past 6mos than anything in the past 15years. Understanding the physics and biomechanics behind the golf swing is truly important to actually implementing on the course and ultimately developing confidence and consistent feel. Plus, now i know exactly why a shot goes astray and how to fix it.

    If you could also do one on hand path for drivers and irons that would be awesome.

    Finally, forget the trolls here, they are just intimidated about where to start to eliminate their own ignorance.

    • Mad-Mex

      Sep 20, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Wipe you nose again, you missed a spot,,,,,,,,
      So we are not to respond nor comment on these articles? And if we do all we should do is compliment and praise?
      Reality check,,,, $200-$250- that’s what many golfers spend on golf a month, they are also the ones who are keeping many golf courses from going under,,,,

  6. Mad-Mex

    Sep 15, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    So this GEAR thing tells me that my angle of attack is 3.75 degrees too steep, that I am coming out to in by 3 degrees and the face is open 1.5 degrees, but the ball is going straight or baby fade ( I have in fact a slight out to in swing and my miss IS a baby fade),,,,,,,,,

    Now what !?!?!

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      3.75 too steep compared to what? 3 degrees out-in with 1.5 open hit in the middle of the face would be a baby fade? What is your question? if your ball flight belies path/face relationship, there’s a good chance your hitting the toe in this case. It’s known as horizontal gear effect.

      • Mad-Mex

        Sep 19, 2016 at 11:10 pm

        Maybe I should explain my post a little better,,,,,,,,,,,,, Let say I got all that information from the system, now what am I supposed to do with it?!?!? How do I correct it?!?!? How do I know its fixed?!?! How do I know when am off again ?!?! There is way too much info being fed to golfers, I have read posts here of people saying how they lowered their RPM’s by 200 simply by buying a new $300 shaft,,, too much emphasis on numbers and not on feel,,,

        But I could be wrong

    • Jim

      Sep 24, 2016 at 1:30 am

      The professional giving you your lesson on this will show the most important issue(s) AND explain why you should correct them – after all, that’s why you’re there – hopefully not just to do an MRI on your golfswing and then do nothing to fix the problem it found.- Just as if only using good video camera’s. They SHOULD while reviewing your video
      with you, be explaining both sides ; WHAT
      you DID to get to a bad – say ‘top position’ & how to
      change the move and get to a better spot, WHY the less than good position you ended up in now affects the next move you (can – or now must HAVE to) do The ability to make an easy repetitive swing – or not – is always a byproduct of what happened one or two moves before…

      I have wireless/markerless 3D Biometric
      motion analysis and use maybe 40% of all the areas it measures, and it’s awesome for actually quantifying things like shoulder & hip turn, weight distribution, weight shift spine tilt, etc…I can show you YOU – not a stick figure – and say if you’re shoulder’s only turning 69 or 72 degrees we can work on getting it to 85, then 90 (unless a physical limitation is present)….
      Not all brilliant people are good teachers (Foley?)
      A good teacher makes it flow and make sense as part of making his case why the student should change, needs to change OR absolutely HAS TO change – if they want to improve, stop hurting, or reach their potential.

      Remember, you came to us. If someone has this and can’t give you a full and easily understood (some numbers included too) analysis of your swing, what you’re doing well & not, what needs to change to meet your goals and how the two of you will go about it by the end of the first 15 minutes – including practice swings & some warm up shots, they’re too lost in their tech stuff and not focused enough on the human next to ’em

      I’ll bet your buddy Parson will buy one 🙂

  7. GEARS Golf

    Sep 15, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    We’ve added the map of GEARS system installation sites to http://gearssports.com/, for those who would like to see/try our product.

    Otherwise, click here to go straight to the map!
    https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/1/viewer?mid=1DX8enNc5vdzyLFQ099-BD_vOtrk

  8. ooffa

    Sep 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    That’s a whole lot of crap there using to tell me I slice the ball. Thanks but no thanks.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      Always glad to help. You could always play a course with 18 doglegs to the right…

      • ooffa

        Sep 16, 2016 at 6:41 am

        Certainly not the nurturing comment I would expect from an award winning teacher.
        Excuse me could you help me hit the ball further.
        Just play a shorter course. Glad I could help.
        Thanks teach, same time next week?

        • Mr. Wedge

          Sep 16, 2016 at 12:51 pm

          It was a good response to your initial pointless, yet derogatory, comment. The system will show/tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong. It’s up to YOU, or with the help of a good instructor, to figure out how to fix those flaws.

          • Mad-Mex

            Sep 19, 2016 at 11:12 pm

            Am with ooffa,,,,,,,,,, besides, a good teacher will correct you swing for a fraction of this system!!!

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 16, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Thank you for calling the article “a whole lot of crap”…If you want help with the slice, I’d be happy to help you, send me a video. But no need to demean the article. Thx

  9. Shooters Tour

    Sep 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    A major concern with this system are the sensors placed on the shaft and club-head. The sensors are not weightless, producing data that is not entirely accurate. This also increases swing weight to a considerable factor, having tried GEARS last year.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Swing weight changes 1 step and head markers weigh 1 gram each and shaft clip is 8 gram

      We have had no negative feedback from any of the tour players that have been on the system

      This only way to accurately find the center of a marker is if it’s a ball. This is how we find the center to within 00.2mm

      Small price to pay for most accurate tool to measure the body, they wrists, grip, shaft, head and face. Oh and all at the same time…

  10. Dennis Clark

    Sep 15, 2016 at 10:06 am

    I wrote this article to inform you that there is currently a technology called GEARS which offers the many things I described, just as there is, say, an iPhone 7 you can now buy and several new apps you put on that phone. Any and all of the latest technology is an option, a choice that we, the consumers, make or NOT make. In fact golf itself is an optional hobby. No one is suggesting you buy it, simply saying that it’s there. As for the myriad features, i suggest you take as much or as little as you like. If you’re looking for one particular area of your club or swing to correct, GEARS will identify that area. Forget the rest. Also, the technology is quite obviously not a home product to be set up in ones garage, just as a heart monitor is not meant for your bedroom. That’s why there are professional studios that provide this service on an hourly basis. Thx.

  11. Uncle Buck

    Sep 15, 2016 at 3:12 am

    For crying out loud, just hit the ball the best you can 3 times and hopefully have a look at par!!! All these gadgets and gizmos, fitting carts, 300 shaft options, 1300 grips to choose from, lasers, 36 brands of golf balls, etc.!! Just step up to da tee and hit it, find it, hit again, again, and pull the flat
    stick!! I’m up to here with all the nonsense already.

    • Jeffrey Purtell

      Sep 15, 2016 at 3:21 am

      Amen Bro

    • Mr. Wedge

      Sep 16, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      You’re suggesting no one actually puts effort into improving their game, and just be happy with the way they hit it, whether that’s good or terrible. That makes a lot of sense…

  12. Philip

    Sep 14, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Better data is always better. Especially as it eventually filters down to things that a greater amount of people can afford and use. Put this on a grass driving range in which I can watch the real flight of my ball and I’m interested. Combine this with a swing coach that excels at getting one into their zone as their swing and technique is being evaluated and you have a winner (I had the experience of this last week – awesome session). My only issue with a lot of this technology is the presentation of the images and video from a 3rd person perspective. The last I checked I swing the golf club from within the swing, not outside looking in. It is from this point of view one needs to understand the swing, not from a camera person looking through a view finder. Granted, short of projecting a holographic video around myself, I have no simple answer to the issue myself.

  13. Rich B

    Sep 14, 2016 at 8:28 pm

    The technology available today is great in the right hands. I would also like to know where this is available. Hopefully, on the West Coast or close to it. Aloha

  14. Emo

    Sep 14, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Yeah? How much does the whole system cost? And don’t give me the PGA discount price, we know they get to lease this stuff at big discounted prices. What would it cost for a normal person to buy one for his or her home?

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 14, 2016 at 7:56 pm

      last paragraph in the article details it I believe

    • Jim

      Sep 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      Enough is enough…consider this the first gen Laser disc player of over the top crazy shit HUMANS can’t possibly need. Wait 6 years and it’ll be half the hassle and half the price.
      I LOVE TECH…Got Trackman and between that and my SwingGuru Pro most current editionn I can already produce too much ‘close enough for gov’t work’ OR SCRATCH GOLF data (within 2-3 degrees of measured spine tilt, shoulder tilt each arm and leg flexion, shoulder turn, hip turn head movement blah blah AND dead on
      accurate live time weight distribution & shift withnd with NO WIRES. I can live without all that because my 3 IDS
      cameras running 2@225fps (down the line & face on) and
      1 @ 450fps showing the clubhead CLEAR AS DAY from last 4 feet of downswing can see path, face rotation exactly where ball is struck and any deviation or head rotation from force of impact… The visualization of THE REAL CLUBHEAD AND PLAYER is 109 times better for the student to see amd understand than all the numbers we get from Trackman (which however is indispensable for driver and shaft fittings) but when conpared to the High Speed HD cameras bo where near as helpful for lessons – except for the rop 5% of my competitive players swinging >105.

      The “Normal” person who’d buy this “for their home” already has the best 40K “Full Swing” box simulator and 2 sets of PXG’s – staff bags too. One for home and one for the club….

      No one – maybe Woods or Pelz would buy this monstrosity –
      for their ‘home’ – but then again, they’d end up getting it comp’d.

      nothing beats good clear multiple high speed cameras & some foot-rot spray on the clubface

      • Jim

        Sep 14, 2016 at 10:35 pm

        I HATE IT when this site/my *NOTE EAT a draft I’m working on and says ‘server timed out’ and the friggin thing disappears – only to post AN HOUR LATER with the REWRITTEN post…

        My apologies to all. Hey GWRX – Feel free to delete this first one….

    • Jim

      Sep 14, 2016 at 10:20 pm

      ENOUGH already! I LOVE TECH…This will be great for fine tuning robot golfers for combat – once they evolve from just smashing each other up on ‘Battle Bots’…

      I can produce way too much biomechanical data now with my Swing Guru Pro 3D WIRELESS & MARKERLESS system. IT gives more info than a human player OR COACH needs. The latest gen produces spine tilt, shoulder tilt, stance to the cm. Real time dead on weight distribution & full motion shift – without pressure pads, shoulder & hip turn, head motionn arm n leg motion.. and more.blah blah numbers no one needs. I can show tilt n turn accurate within a couple degrees – “close enough for Government work” – OR SCRATCH GOLF. My Trackman, while INDESPENSABLE for driver & shaft fitting, spits out more numbers than all but my top 5% of competitive players need.

      Where as my 3 High Speed HD IDS camerasn 2 running @ 225 fps (face on & down the line) and the 3rd dedicated over the 4 feet od clubhead approaching, rotating into and striking the ball give CLEAR AS DAY images inch by inch SHOWING THE REAL PATH, FACE ANGLE & IMPACT with the ball.

      These visuals of the real human I’m teaching, his/her belly or boobs getting in the way, their actual hands and glove and their real club – are FAR better than all the numbers all the other stuff combined yields.

      As far as the “NORMAL GUY” (?!) Who’d buy this monstrosity “for their home”? – They already own the 35K FULL SIZE BOX “Full Swing” Simulator and probably have two of those curverd XXXXHD 10K 60″ Samsung TV’s and bar in their simulator room…along with 3 full sets of PXG’s -one for home, one for the club & one to show off in their office. They could give a crap how much this costs.

      The first two people to order one will be Woods & Pelz – and they’ll probably get it comp’d.

      nothing beats good HS cameras & a little foot-rot spray on the clubhead

  15. talljohn777

    Sep 14, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    The cover photo of Nick Price is not a true GEARS session because he is not wearing a suit with optical markers (little white balls) on it nor does his club have any optical markers. The optical markers are placed all over your body at every strategic point and joint to capture all information perfectly. GEARS is an optical tracking system and without these markers the cameras and software cannot return the needed information. I have used this system and it is truly impressive. My instructor was able to clearly show me my issues and we were able to build a plan that made a great deal of sense to fix my problems. I will not bore you with how bad my positions were during my swing, but it clearly opened my eyes to what was going on in my swing and the compensations that I was needing to make due to being in those bad positions. After the three day golf academy the before and after on GEARS were dramatic. Very impressive

    • KK

      Sep 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      Of course he’s not wearing the suit. They’re trying to pull in as many arrogant, anti-intellectual, delusional golfers as possible.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 14, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      John, I’ll ask Mike about the video; he works with Nick…Spot on observations; I’ve taught for 37 years and it identifies poor body and club positions better than any I’ve seen or used.

    • Dennis clark

      Sep 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

      Here’s the answer to the Nick Price observation from Mike Neff, GEARS director.

      “If you look closely there are markers on his club

      Gears has the ability to do body and club or just the club.

      Nick price was looking for answers as to why his driving was suffering. Gears answered those questions where no other tech could. It’s an amazing story. One of the best golf days of my life”.

  16. Ron

    Sep 14, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Dennis, do you have the system?

  17. Steven

    Sep 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    This is exciting technology. I admit, I probably over analyze numbers and technical info for my golf swing. However, I think in the right hands, this is perfect. If an instructor has this info, he/she can diagnose why something is happening and focus on the pieces to fix flaws. They know what info is important and what isn’t. The info in amateur students’ hands may cause them to go crazy and not be focused on the building blocks. I can’t wait to see the list of facilities. Hopefully one around me.

  18. Deadeye

    Sep 14, 2016 at 11:16 am

    I like data but only if it produces a teachable moment. If the info can be analyzed and generate corrective actions I am all for it.

  19. TGG-Chris

    Sep 14, 2016 at 10:58 am

    As a data geek, this has me pretty excited. The question to me is how much of this extra data is actionable. Data is great if it helps you make a decision but if it’s mostly noise it’s just more of a mess that can cloud our heads when setting up for a shot.

    • Dennis Clark

      Sep 14, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Chris, that’s exactly the point I’m making…actionable data is working data or that which is relevant to an individual. What GEARS provides is ALL the data, much of which you may well be executing within a functional range. Its a “take what you need” kinda thing…The beauty again is MEASURED not estimated. Thx for interest.

  20. Lucky

    Sep 14, 2016 at 10:20 am

    The best coaches I’ve had were able to make technical jargon very simple and coach the same way. I don’t need to know all the dirty details.

  21. Dennis Clark

    Sep 14, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Steve Ill have that info up shortly. hold on

  22. steve s

    Sep 14, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I’m all for technology that shows what’s really happening in your swing, not what some old time golf coach THINKS is happening. What this will do(eventually) is make golf instruction more consistent, force incompetant golf coach to learn or lose students, and simplify golf for all of us.

    • steve s

      Sep 14, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Oh yeah, it would be nice if there was a listing of the 32 places in the world you could go to analyze your swing. Not here or on the GEAR’s website. Pretty lame….

  23. Ma

    Sep 14, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Finally, a potential technology that could bring the cost of trackman down to moderately out of reach, instead of, maybe when I’m 75 I could afford it, when I no longer need it.

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Hall-of-Famer and career Grand Slam winner Gary Player joins host Michael Williams for an exclusive one-on-one interview at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf tournament and Big Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri. Player talks about the past and future of the game, including his take on everything from reigning in the golf ball and golf courses, to advocating for more testing for performance enhancing drugs on the Tour. Steve Friedlander of Big Cedar Lodge also appears.

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Opinion & Analysis

Let’s Retire Old Man Par: A Modest Proposal

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In 1729, Jonathan Swift wrote a satirical essay entitled “A modest proposal,” in which he suggested that the Irish eat their own children. As might be expected, the piece drew a great deal of discussion and controversy. He was of course not serious, but simply attempting to make a point. As you will read this piece contains “A Modest Proposal” as well, but it is not intended to be satirical. I am for the record dead serious.

The golf industry is wringing its hands, trying to find a way to bring new players into the game, while at the same time keeping those that are in the game from leaving. They have initiated any number of programs designed for this purpose. How successful have they been? I would venture that they have barely moved the needle.

Barriers to the game

What we do know is that today there are three major barriers that confront the industry. They are first, the time required to play the game; second the costs associated with playing the game; and third the difficulty of the game.

There are among those adults that start the game, three distinct different groups:

  1. Those who would like to start playing golf but for any number of reasons decided not to take up the game.
  2. Those who once played more frequently but have reduced the number of rounds that they play.
  3. Those who started to play the game but then after a short period decided to leave it.

Those who leave the game

Those in the golf industry, the hand-wringers, have developed any number of programs to bring new players to the game. I would ask the question, “What is the point, when almost an equal number of players that start playing the game each year, decide to give it up within a span of a few months.

Does it make any sense to continue to put water into a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom? Of course not, but that is effectively what is being done. The first question to be ask, why do these new players quit the playing after a short time? In my opinion, the number No. 1 reason is the method of scoring being used.

Were an exit poll to be conducted asking these people why they quit playing, I seriously doubt they would answer truthfully. Who would want to admit that they were discouraged by their inability to succeed at any endeavor? The two answers that would be given the most often would be 1) that golf is too expensive to play; or 2) that they simply didn’t have time.  In this case both answers serve to preserve the individual’s dignity. And who could blame them?

The concept of par

Why did these individuals find the game difficult? The short answer is that while golf is a hard game to learn, there  is a more compelling reason.  I would venture, that the underlying reason they quit the game is that it ceased to be fun because of how they viewed their performance. And for one central reason… the concept of par. The idea that an amateur golfer, especially a beginner, should measure their level of success against an imaginary set of numbers that represents what an expert player would score on each hole is on the surface ridiculous.

You might imagine a beginning player scoring an eight on a par-four hole after hitting six good shots and then two putting for an eight. In the context of their ability, they should be ecstatic — but of course they are not (because as their playing partner reminds them) they were four-over par on that hole. The time has come for Old Man Par to retire. And retire permanently. He is killing the game.

Perceived failure

In another scenario, the beginning player scores sixty for nine holes, which is an excellent score given the short amount of time they might have spent playing the game. And yet their nine-hole score was 24-over par. How would that make you feel? Would you be encouraged or discouraged? You might imagine yourself back in school and regardless of the amount of work that you put into a given class you always receive an “F.” At some point, would you give up?

Why should every golfer be judged by the same standard when there is such inequality in their ability? The equivalent would be placing a high school freshman in a graduate-level college course, expecting that they could perform at the same level as the other graduate students. The disparity in knowledge, based on age and experience, is precisely the reason why there are different grades in school. The same disparity exists among golfers. In this case, the difference being the ability to perform on the golf course as opposed to the classroom.

What about the second group of players that now plays less than they did in the past? Could it be that they are no longer having fun playing the game?And then there is the third group, those that consider playing the game but abandon it for another sport. Could it be that they are intimidated by the scoring system, knowing that as a beginner par is an absolute impossibility?

Old man par 

The legendary Bobby Jones was the first to coin, perhaps with the help of his friend O.B. Keillor, the phrase “Old Man Par.” Jones was, of course, the greatest amateur to have ever played the game. He won the Grand Slam in 1930, retiring then at the age of 28.

The time has come to retire “Old Man Par” and devise a new system for measuring a golfer’s progress in the game. I know that those in the USGA. would reject the concept immediately for fear of, and here is a $10 word used primarily by attorneys, “bifurcate” the game. What that word essentially means in this context in having more than one standard. The USGA is responsible for preserving the nature of the game, but at the same time it should be equally concerned with preserving the future of the game.

Personal par

What I would suggest is a system based on the principle of what might be termed “personal par.” This was essentially the system that was used to groom a young Tiger Woods. As a young child, he was not capable of reaching the longer holes in regulation, making par a virtual impossibility. Consequently, his coach wisely devised a system in which par was adjusted upward based on his ability at a given point in time. This served to keep the young child feeling good about his performance and subsequent progress.

This is the type of system that needs to be devised for the health of the game. The system would begin at a nine-hole level using a par of thirty-six as a basis. The actual numbers are not as important as the basic concept. There would be within the nine-hole and the eighteen-hole groups five different levels as follows with assigned par for each hole and eighteen holes roughly equal with the player’s ability.

As players improved, they would graduate from one level to another based on their total score. The handicap system would work in similar fashion as it does now with a single modification. The strokes give from one player to another would depend on the level in which they fall and the par assigned to that level.

The personal par handicap system would not be as exacting as it is presently used, but it would be sufficient to allow players to be reasonable competitive without any significant sacrifice. There would then be two scoring systems then, allowing players to choose which one they wanted to use. Or a recommendation might be given that until they reach a given scoring threshold that they use the personal par scoring system.

There would, of course, be the usual concern with something new being injected into the system, but the proposed change would be no greater than when the system of equitable scoring was introduced or when courses were first assigned a course rating number.

A few years ago, when life-long teacher and educator Dr. Gary Wiren was inducted into the Golf Teacher’s Hall of Fame, he wanted to pass along a single piece of advice to those teachers in the room. “Gentleman,” he started and then paused for emphasis. “We must find a way to make the game more fun for our students.”

I’m in full agreement with Dr. Wiren. The question is, “What is the best way to accomplish that goal?” I believe that that the first step in that direction is to change the scoring system so that golfers experience more satisfaction and accomplishment. That is what makes learning fun.

And so, I would have you consider “The Modest Proposal” that I have put forward. And rather than attempting to find reasons why a revised scoring system couldn’t never work, for the benefit of the game, look for the same number of reason why it could work. The time has come for Old Man Par, as we know him, to retire. He has served us well, but he has become an anarchism. He is as obsolete as the horse and buggy. Let’s hand him his gold watch and let him enjoy his golden years in peace.

And at the same time, let’s welcome the “new kid on the block” who will pave the way for the next generation of golfers pioneering a scoring system that promises to make the game more “fun.”

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TG2: What’s the most annoying breach of golf etiquette?

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What’s the one breach of golf etiquette that gets under your skin more than anything else? Equipment expert Brian Knudson and GolfWRX Editor Andrew Tursky discuss what drives them crazy. Also, Knudson talks about his first round with new irons and a new shaft in his driver.

Follow @tg2wrx on Instagram to enter the Bettinardi inovai 5.0 center-shaft putter giveaway.

Listen to the full podcast below on SoundCloud, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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