Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

Are Today’s Golf Courses Unfair to the Average Golfer?

Published

on

For the past two decades, there has been little movement of in the scoring averages, driving distances and handicaps of the average golfer. The average score still hovers around 100, the average drive is still in the 200-yard range and for those who keep handicaps 16 remains the average.

However, in those 20 years golf equipment has evolved exponentially. Advancements include the cavity back iron, vast improvements in the casting process, higher moment of inertia, aerodynamics, lighter/better graphite shafts, center of gravity, better materials such as titanium and tungsten, 460cc heads, hybrids, the evolution of the golf ball and even the lowly golf tee.

So what gives? If lessons aren’t helping the average golfer, technology isn’t helping the average golfer and all those gazillion tips he reads in the golf magazines, not to mention all those Golf Channel and You Tube lessons, where is our average golfer faltering?

  • Is golf really that hard?
  • Is the average golfer really that inept?
  • Are golf instructors really that bad?
  • Are the OEM’s really just selling the average golfer a bill of goods?

Is it any one thing, or a combination of a lot of things? Here’s another theory to add fuel to the fire: maybe today’s courses are simply too hard — too long with too many hazards.

A little over a decade ago, a new course opened up in our area to all kinds of acclaim. It was a beautiful course that received many awards. But for the average golfer it was virtually unplayable. I never heard so many golfers complain about a golf course and how many golf balls they lost per round. Sure, it was beautiful. But, you better hit the ball straight — perfectly straight. How many average golfers hit the ball perfectly straight? The course had to make a number of adjustments to accommodate the average golfer, i.e., the paying customer.

Now, that was an extreme example, but I’ve played a number of newer courses that makes me ask, “What was the designer thinking?” I’ve heard of a few other courses in my area that are user unfriendly, and as a result are struggling. Who wants to go play a course where you lose a bunch of balls, and post a score somewhere north of the Arctic Circle?

Even my home course punishes good shots, e.g., you can hit a good shot and still end up in a hazard (basically you better hit the ball in the fairway or your toast). I’ve played TPC Boston three times and have never lost a ball (the slope I’ve played was 146), however at my home course I average two to three lost balls a round.

So here you have the average golfer. He steps up to first tee, excited to be out on the course, away from the office, away from any of those cares that may be consuming him otherwise. Eighteen holes later, as he puts his clubs in the car, he wonders why he even bothered. Every hole was surrounded by bunkers. What was that creek doing running across the middle of the fairway? Who the heck would put hazard right behind No. 8 green, or right in front No. 12 green? What’s up with that dogleg? There was only one place to put the ball and no where to miss?

That wasn’t a golf course, that was an obstacle course!

Okay, we have better equipment, all those extra years of analysis to further understand the swing, yet we continue to struggle. Well, some of us anyway. So, why don’t designers build courses with the average golfers in mind? And, I’m not talking about Pete Dye, who said:

“Golf isn’t supposed to be fair.”

Build a course and they will come? I don’t know. Maybe. But at the very least make it fair for the average golfer. Do you really need all those hazards? Really? Does that green really require a long, towering iron shot or hybrid? Why not a thinned one? Do you really think the PGA Tour is going to come to your course for four days?

For those you who like a challenge there are plenty of golf courses out there to test you (there is another course in my area that is 8325 yards from the back tees). But, golf should be more fun for the average golfer too. He should walk off No. 18 with a grin on his face, a few golf balls left in his bag, a bit of swagger in his step and maybe a circle or two on his scorecard.

To paraphrase Pink Floyd, Hey Designer, leave those golfers alone!

Click here for more discussion in the “Golf Talk” forum. 

Your Reaction?
  • 5
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK3

Sean Foster-Nolan was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, and has lived all over the United States. He picked up the game of golf at the age of 50, and currently plays at Harmon Golf & Fitness Club in Rockland, Mass. Sean is passionate about all things golf and has been a member of GolfWRX since 2007. He is a retired counselor, where he last worked with high school kids who had severe emotional and behavioral problems in an alternative high school. His philosophy is treat all people with kindness and respect.

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Tiernan

    May 23, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    My home course overly punishes anything not in the fairway. Small roughs give way to thick underbrush and woods impossible to play from. So many decent shots are unplayable or lost outright. It’s starting to get frustrating and expensive to play. The other part about this that frustrates me is that I don’t get to work on tough shots or recovery shots. It’s either a good lie or unplayable so I don’t get to work on shot making.

    I don’t mind playing strategically, but it’s kind of ridiculous.

  2. Sean

    Dec 13, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Some excellent comments here. Thank you for sharing them.

  3. Hans

    Dec 1, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    I agree that many of the newer course are built too hard for the average golfer. There was a course in northern Ohio that opened a few years back to a lot of acclaim. Most people that played it once said they’d never go back. Way too many blind shots, hazards placed to punish a slightly mishit ball, etc. That course is now closed. There’s another course that is trying anything to get play. They built a ” championship” course, looks great, but OB is just a couple yards from a very slightly wayward shot. It’s just not fun to play. We’re average golfers, we play for the fun and the challenge. We’re going to hit more shots off the heel, toe, thin, etc and to be punished with a penalty for being OB when you missed the fairway by 10 yards does not make for an enjoyable round.

  4. BigD

    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Golf course difficulty is not entirely down to length and playing the forward tees does not always ensure a more enjoyable experience irrespective of handicap. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa and my 2 favorite courses measure 6950 yards and >8200 yards. We are 1600m above sea level so the ball flies about 10% further, so an 8000 yard course will play like a 7200 yard course. Difficulty relates far more the design than to length. Deep fairway bunkers, deep bush just off the fairway, large water hazards, heavily undulating greens and deep and lush rough affect playability and difficulty more than sheer length.

  5. TK

    Nov 30, 2012 at 11:53 am

    I don’t think that golf courses are unfair – unless you play from the wrong t-box. A high handicapper should NEVER play anything other than the tees just before the ladies’ t-box (forward tees, I believe). I think you will find that courses are great when played from the appropriate tees. This would also alleviate the 4.5+ hr rounds…

    God Bless,
    TK

  6. Pingback: GolfWRX.com – Are Today's Golf Courses Unfair to the Average … | Golf Grip Instruction

  7. Sean

    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:08 am

    I agree Tom, but sometimes even playing from the correct tees isn’t enough.

  8. Sean

    Nov 30, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Thanks Nate. I also like your idea! It would make it a lot easier for golfers looking for a place to play.

  9. tom

    Nov 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    most courses have several different tees you can play from. You should try playing from the front ones if you don’t have the handicap to play at the back ones.

    • Craig

      Nov 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Amen. If a course is too hard for a player, get better. It’s just that simple. I worked hard to be a low single digit handicap. On a difficult course I usually shoot a little higher and I don’t complain.

  10. Nate

    Nov 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    Honestly, I think you flushed an iron with this one. Most courses are too difficult for the average golfer and more people would play if it wasn’t so difficult. Maybe a rating system that is easier to understand like a “star” rating. 5 stars professional down to 1 star being beginner. Different handicaps look to different star levels to pick a course that is the right amount of challenge with a higher degree of fun.

  11. Sean

    Nov 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Well Max, I hope you find what you are looking for. 🙂

  12. Mr. Blair M. Phillips

    Nov 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Unfair? Not a chance! The only thing that annoyes me about any golf course is “critical golfers and golfers that don’t use garbage recepticals or recycling bins”
    I wish though I had “a few more shekels” so I could play more “strategic” golf courses that were designed by some of the “earlier” strategic golf course designers like H.”Harry” Colt, Mac Macan and Dr Alister MacKenzie and the like. Around here, golf courses designed by men like H. Colt are “impossible to get on” because of the cost. (sigh)
    Max
    Canada

  13. blake

    Nov 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Were u talking about The International being the 8000+ yard course

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Podcasts

Gear Dive: USC head golf coach Chris Zambri on the challenges that will come with the new NCAA rules

Published

on

In this Special Edition of The Gear Dive, USC Men’s Head Golf Coach Chris Zambri discusses his thoughts on the new NCAA mandates, how to get recruited, and the pros and cons of recruiting can’t-miss superstars.

  • 9:55 — Zambri discusses thoughts on new rule
  • 17:35 — The rule he feels is the toughest navigate
  • 26:05 — Zambri discusses the disadvantages of recruiting a “can’t miss” PGA star
  • 32:50 — Advice to future recruits
  • 44:45 — The disadvantages of being tied to an OEM as a college golf team

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

Your Reaction?
  • 1
  • LEGIT5
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy

Published

on

New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

Your Reaction?
  • 42
  • LEGIT7
  • WOW9
  • LOL2
  • IDHT2
  • FLOP3
  • OB1
  • SHANK23

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?

Published

on

Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at edmyersgolf.com.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at edmyersgolf@gmail.com.

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

Your Reaction?
  • 11
  • LEGIT2
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK6

Continue Reading

19th Hole

Facebook

Trending