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Barney Adams: Stop calling golf “fun”



Industry ads aimed at promoting participation have the same theme, “Play Golf Because It’s Fun.” I disagree with the presentation, but admittedly it takes explanation. Fun is considered, light, enjoyable among other adjectives. Golf hasn’t been around for centuries evoking a unique passion because it’s “fun.” It’s hard and frustrating yet we come back sometimes—even ignoring weather we wouldn’t otherwise be outside in.


Because it’s rewarding! Not on the whole, that’s reserved for the very few who are excellent players. “Rewarding” for the masses will be a well-played hole, even a singular shot. We are rewarded in small victories, not mastery.

How then do we focus on the concept of reward? The answer falls into what we call course layout and must be championed by those organizations promoting the game—the PGA of America and the USGA. I’ll proceed with some typical examples with real data, not opinion.

This is data-centric: Years ago, the former Technical Director of the USGA reported that his study revealed an average driving distance of 192 yards. Who are the 192s? The short answer is they are the overall majority of players who play and financially support the game. Their brethren are not coming on board in numbers, and pure age analysis shows that they are a declining population, albeit with a huge reservoir that is retiring and could decide to play.

They love to watch the 300-yard drives of Tour players and marvel that the average iron into greens is an 8—albeit some 170 yards. Further, these iron shots are struck consistently, high, landing with spin allowing them to shoot for targets within the confines of the green.

The 192 group doesn’t hit 170-yard 8-irons. If they make that good swing, their 8-iron goes roughly 120, and rather than a spot on the green, they are trying to get on the putting surface.

What does this have to do with rewarding? I was recently asked to analyze a course that had installed forward tees, but something was off. The overall yardage was 5,900 par 70, which seemed perfect.

However, there were six holes in various forms of what follows: yardage 354, a 192-yard drive leaves 162 and in each case, it was a forced carry of 162 yards. The 192s don’t have a high soft shot that carries 162 plus yards. They may have an occasional low bullet that doesn’t hold, but the sensible play is to lay up.

This gets old and it’s not rewarding. If their second shot on forced carry holes was, say, 125 yards they would have a chance to hit a solid shot onto the green, and that’s rewarding. We 192s aren’t good enough to hit center face solid shots every time. Give us the chance that we’ll be rewarded with a birdie putt just some of the time and the experience is one that keeps us playing (“fun,” if you will, but more accurately defined).

Further, a 370-yard par 4 with a slightly downsloping fairway into a green wide open in the front—and again we have a chance to be rewarded.

It isn’t a simple distance issue: It’s an understanding of the concept of reward and setting one set of tees accordingly. Golf courses are fairway width, firmness, elevations, hazards and the list goes on. That’s why I say the good folks who promote the game need to embrace the concept. Produce guidelines on how to make courses rewarding.

Years ago, I was very fortunate to be able to play a few rounds with Lee Trevino, arguably one of the greatest ball strikers of all times. He didn’t play “the tees” he picked the ones he wanted, some forward, some back. I asked why and he said, “Barnyard, I just want to be able to hit shots to the green. I always did.” I never forgot his comment, but I didn’t appreciate the genius behind it until I came upon the concept of rewarding golf. It’s exactly what Lee was doing!

Of course, I’m just one small voice. The PGA of America and USGA are the leaders and it’s up to them to turn the concept of rewarding golf into a movement designed to increase participation.

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Barney Adams is the founder of Adams Golf and the inventor of the iconic "Tight Lies" fairway wood. He served as Chairman of the Board for Adams until 2012, when the company was purchased by TaylorMade-Adidas. Adams is one of golf's most distinguished entrepreneurs, receiving honors such as Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 1999 and the 2010 Ernie Sabayrac Award for lifetime contribution to the golf industry by the PGA of America. His journey in the golf industry started as as a club fitter, however, and has the epoxy filled shirts as a testimony to his days as an assembler. Have an equipment question? Adams holds seven patents on club design and has conducted research on every club in the bag. He welcomes your equipment questions through email at [email protected] Adams is now retired from the golf equipment industry, but his passion for the game endures through his writing. He is the author of "The WOW Factor," a book published in 2008 that offers an insider's view of the golf industry and business advice to entrepreneurs, and he continues to contribute articles to outlets like GolfWRX that offer his solutions to grow the game of golf.



  1. Adams fan

    Sep 12, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Why does this bitter old man still have relevancy or a platform? He created a one-hit infomercial wonder 20 years ago. He doesn’t need a platform like WRX to keep pontificating….waiting for his next “get off my lawn” moment.

    • Barney Adams

      Sep 12, 2019 at 6:08 pm

      My goodness it’s my brother Harry. Never got over my eating his ice cream.

  2. JimmyD2

    Sep 10, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Wow! We should stop calling the game of golf fun because what the scorecard shows as par on some holes may be too difficult for our skill level… Maybe a better recommendation would be to forget about the scorecard and “Just Have Fun”. When I was in the military I used to love visiting family and getting out to PLAY golf together! My father, who only played during these rare visits (and never practiced!) had more fun than any of us. My “happy place” for the past decade+ has been playing a round of golf with my son, especially when we get to play as a twosome. Golf is and should be Fun! As the great philosopher Tin Cup once said, “Sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you’re not good at them.”

  3. Dave r

    Sep 9, 2019 at 8:08 pm

    My wife tells me I’m having fun so I guess I’m having fun.

  4. Todd Dugan

    Sep 9, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    I think of golf as an OPPORTUNITY to achieve a sense of accomplishment by doing something well which is not easy to do well. If it were easy to do well, then the reward would not be nearly as great. But there is a risk, as doing something poorly is disappointing…for me, anyway. There is also a nice social element to playing. I also think of playing golf as a sort of ritualistic “life exercise” in doing things correctly.

  5. scott

    Sep 9, 2019 at 7:28 am

    I think i have fun.
    Only really know when I take the winnings off my playing partners.

  6. Prime21

    Sep 8, 2019 at 11:40 pm

    I’m still confused. Are you saying in order to be fun it has to be easy? EVERYONE on the planet has to have the ability to access a pin? I could counter by saying I can hit high, soft shots and easy courses that allow for run up on every shot are no fun at all. Everyone has a different opinion, whether they are in the AVG or not. Simply because you have an opinion, which is “supported” by numbers doesn’t mean you have the support of the others in your “average” group. Everyone has ‘em, apparently you just get to share yours.

    • JThunder

      Sep 9, 2019 at 5:43 am

      The key point is “average” is meaningless. If you compile “average” in anything, those specs will only fit 1% of the people involved (see: height, weight, etc).

      I know PLENTY of golfers who drive 200 and can hit a high soft shot from 162. I know low handicappers who hit mid-trajectory irons with low spin who would have more trouble (eg, to elevated greens).

      I think the article misses it’s own point; it’s about bad golf course architecture and management. In my experience, those kind of courses alienate golfers, and have to drop prices to compete with better designs. Or they get turned into townhouse sites. I suppose there are areas with fewer choices, so golfers are stuck. Ultimately, courses should be designed around some variety; not all tee shots should require a fade, not all par 3s should be long, not all greens should be elevated. (Just ask the pros about Dubsdread!)

    • Barney Adams

      Sep 9, 2019 at 12:48 pm

      That’s just the point. It’s NOT about easy it’s about a reasonable challenge for the 192s. Courses throw out front tees with no thought so you get 400 yd par 5 holes ( which I call dumb) instead of 390 yd par 4 s
      Look up Moe’s poem by Paul Bertholy. I almost included it in the story.

  7. No Thanks

    Sep 8, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    I’m sorry, but this isn’t “backed up with data”. You have an AVERAGE distance. That average is not the MEDIAN. Those are two different things. But let’s say “192” is the median. We’ll imagine that for a moment, and then say you found one hole, on one course, unnamed, and site that as why things are failing?

    A 5900y Par-70 was mislabeled, and should have been a 5900y Par-71.

    Barney, I don’t even disagree with your premise that it isn’t easy, and maybe should avoid the term “fun”. But you’re way off here calling this “data-centric”. This is literally the opposite of “data-centric” — it’s cherry-picking.

    • Barney Adams

      Sep 8, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Sorry but I disagree completely and it’s really my fault for not describing the situation better. It isn’t a case of all the holes having to fit the premise though that would be great. Given that we’re working with existing facilities I’m saying “ fix” as many errant holes as you can. Don’t throw out Forward tees that create unrewarding holes by being too easy , dumb holes. Recognize the power of rewarding and react in kind
      As for median vs average. Of course some will catch one and roll out others will pop up short. All you can do is use 192 as a reference point and know what that means in terms of second shot requirements.
      Last; I’ve written about this in various forms for 8 years now. I’m not smart enough to give it up , I believe it will add enjoyment to the game

      • No Thanks

        Sep 9, 2019 at 11:59 pm

        You can disagree completely, but it doesn’t change the point.

        If your example was labeled a Par-5, you wouldn’t have a complaint, would you?

        If that’s the case, then it goes back to the “what is par” question. Are you basically saying that you want shorter approach shots for high handicappers? Because if that’s the “challenge” you’re looking for, that risks the integrity of the course… those hitting from 50-100 further back are still aiming for that approach landing area, and they’ll be looking to put up a second shot the same as the HH.

        This seems like tilting at windmills.

  8. Bob Jones

    Sep 8, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Sorry, but if you don’t enjoy your leisure time pursuit, if you don’t have fun doing it, then why bother?

    • Barney Adams

      Sep 8, 2019 at 11:10 pm

      Lost my bowling ball

      • Acemandrake

        Sep 9, 2019 at 10:49 am

        Bob Hope: “I’d quit the game but I have too many sweaters.”

  9. cc-rider

    Sep 8, 2019 at 9:45 am

    I did something that I had meaning to do for years over the holiday weekend. I played a nine hole round with wood woods and 1980 hogan apex 2 irons at a classic shorter course. It was a refreshing change of pace hitting the small headed woods and blade irons. I went on eBay afterwards and could not believe how little these real woods sell for second hand. They were literally pennies on the dollar compared to modern equipment. I am not saying that going back to old equipment is the answer, but it provided a very affordable and alternative take on golf in 2019.

  10. steve

    Sep 8, 2019 at 12:41 am

    For the past 10 + years, my handicap has fluctuated between three and six. Obviously, that is better than some and worse and others. That being said, the better I play, the less fun I seem to have as i tend to expect more from myself than i should. It’s a tough explanation to my wife when I am in a bad mood coming home from golf.

  11. Walt Pendleton

    Sep 7, 2019 at 11:58 pm

    Mr. Adams…enjoyed your angle on courses matching age to holes, new tee boxes and relative to the majority of the game’s largest supporters. As you know, most public clubs don’t have the money to build all new boxes but building 3 to 5 new tees on the hardest holes per year would surely help. I have but one question: Why doesn’t the game ask The PGA Tour to help financially or ask the Euro public tracks what they have done to reduce course closings?

  12. Larry Brown

    Sep 7, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Golf only becomes “fun” when you have put in enough work to have a reasonably consistent swing. Until then, it’s just work. Unless you just play as an excuse to get out with the buddies and drink.

  13. s

    Sep 7, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    A lot of you readers are missing the point. My wife is a decent player but having a birdie opportunity is a rare event.. Most of the course we play, the women’s red tee is only about 30-50 yards closer than the men’s white, where I feel “rewarding”. The GIR rate for her is almost 0% in theory. I give her one shot every single hole just to make her feel fun, rewarding, or whatever you call it. Some even say those courses do it because they don’t want women to come because of the slow play… If not, let me ask you a question. Is it a lot more expensive to maintain the teeing grounds farther apart?

  14. rex 235

    Sep 7, 2019 at 1:11 pm


    Wasn’t it Roger Cleveland who in the Cleveland ad- “wanted to make golf more fun?”

    And aren’t you the guy who wrote the Golf World article saying “The wood wood is dead?”

    And now the company you sold out to- TaylorMade- makes a different Driver model every 3 months?

    Especially when the NEW models featured by every company each year are exclusively RH Only?.

    And having a subscription to Golfwrx featuring “New” equipment models you can’t ever get?

    No..that isn’t fun.

    • Geoffrey Holland

      Sep 7, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      The new models are not exclusively right-handed. And I’m a lefty so I pay attention to these things. You never get the full range that righties get for obvious reasons so stop whining.

    • Jake

      Sep 7, 2019 at 5:09 pm

      The “TM releases a new driver every three months” is going on 5 years since they actually did stuff like that.

    • Gerald Teigrob

      Sep 7, 2019 at 6:28 pm

      Take a chill pill or two and call your doctor in the morning! Get your facts straight before you comment next time! Did you know that Acushnet bought out TM since your dinosaur comment?

      • Bill

        Sep 7, 2019 at 11:23 pm

        Might want to check that. Adidas bought then sold TM. Achusnet once owned Titlest but it’s now owned by Fila. Acushnet never owned TM.

  15. The dude

    Sep 7, 2019 at 11:03 am

    Fun…rewarding …= semantics

  16. Doug McManus

    Sep 7, 2019 at 10:54 am

    Completely useless article, Golf is great fun with some highs and lows.
    I can think of a better game. It is what you make of it!

  17. Sebastien

    Sep 7, 2019 at 7:07 am

    Me and my dad have much more fun since I let him play front tee instead of giving him ‘shots’ in our family competition….

  18. NoTalentLefty

    Sep 6, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    The peripherals of golf are fun. Fellowship, equipment wh0r1ng, etc. Barney has a point on the game itself. The challenges of well played shot is not about fun.

  19. Jeff

    Sep 6, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    Golf is what you make of it. If you suck and still have fun, then that’s great. I’m usually mad when I play bad, but its a fun game. IMHO of course.

    • Rick

      Sep 6, 2019 at 11:18 pm

      Yes it is what you make it…after I hit 70 instead of moving up another tee box I just added a stroke to every par 4 and 5 and played them as 5 and 6 keeping even the longest par 3 still a 3. I took about a year for my mind to settle in but it did and I now an happy as heck hitting those numbers not maybe as a par but as what I can still do and have a fair chance to do on every hole.

  20. Ben Black

    Sep 6, 2019 at 5:59 pm

    This a lot of what I’ve seen in golf course set up for Amateur players.

    Every week I play with two friends who are 30 years older than I. We play from forward mens tees. The Par 5s play like long par 4s for me and I’ll hit 4 iron and wedge to the par 4s. Why don’t I hit driver on the par 4s? Because the course will EAT YOU UP if you miss the fairway.

    The two older guys hit it 160-180 yards (I GPS’d them on their asking – they were very disappointed it was not 220 yards.) The approach shots, if they hit the fairway,make it almost impossible for them to hit shots that are rewarding. On a 350 yard hole they hit a driver 180 then will have to hit another wood to an elevated green that has a deep bunker at front, bushes behind and scraggly rough all around.

    Even hitting a wedge in from 60 yards can be hazardous with where they put the pins. Some are three paces off the edge of a bunker…

    And the Par 3s for these guys are brutal. Three of them can measure 160-190 yards. Yes, that’s not long if you can hit your mid irons that far, but when can these guys play a fun par 3 that doesn’t involve their driver?

    Sometimes I think the greenskeeper has watched golf on Sunday TV then decided to emulate it.
    I’d rather have a short course with excellent greens than extra tee boxes and longer fairways to maintain. I can play from the back tees, but what’s it worth when your putts wibble wobble on bad greens?

    • Simms

      Sep 6, 2019 at 11:25 pm

      The over 50 women have the same problem all the time once a course hits 5,200 or more they just cannot reach the greens in 2 on 4’s or 3 on 5’s…I have a very smart wife (over 65) she found a great Callaway wedge she hits 50 yards almost without fail and now has learned to play as close to that number then trying to run a 3 or 5 wood to roll a ball onto the green with the front bunker a real factor on those shots. It alone cut her handicap form 21 to 16 in less then 6 months…because women can one putt 100% more of the time then they can get out of a green side bunker.

      • Barney Adams

        Sep 8, 2019 at 11:15 pm

        I wrote from a male perspective because they are the majority and I have relevant data. There is actually a very interesting story on women’s tees and their location.

      • ChipNRun

        Sep 9, 2019 at 4:56 pm

        My wife is 4-foot-9. Barney, she got a boxed set of Adams Ideas about four years ago. Custom fit by the woman in local GG shop, aided by two on-phone sessions with Fort Worth factory to ensure right flavor of petite. (Adams Golf – gone but not forgotten!)

        Anyway, she likes the clubs – especially those things call hybrids which were not available for her last fitting in 1989. (Nancy Lopez Square 2 Petites, FYI).

        So, when we prepare for vacation I purposely look for courses which are less than 5,000 yards from the women’s tees. This gives her some sub-300 yard par 4 holes and hopefully a couple of 95-yard par 3s. Something that gives her a chance to make bogies or an occasional par.

        As a caddie in the previous century and a player up until today, I was take aback by how little a distance break the women got on many of the courses. And of the courses built in the early 2000s, the 5400-yard women’s tees got augmented with shorter boxes about 5000 yards. But, these shorter boxes were merely a semi-flat place in the short rough with a couple of markers spiked into the ground. Not usually a true golf tee that others got to use.

        At our home course, a new greenskeeper came in two years ago. The original layout featured lots of exotic “splash” bunkers which were hard to play AND hard to maintain. Senior golfers and those below average height could injure themselves trying to climb down into these sand pits. I used to have to lower my wife into some of the bunkers, and then hand her a club to hit. The rebuilt bunkers for the most part are flat-bottom. The bank and lip may be several feet high, but at least you can walk in without spraining an ankle.

        Before the redo, rainy season made for tough bunker play, as soil pollution was a problem. In past seasons, the safest play was to pick the ball off the “sand” with a PW rather than blast out. Now, we have true bunkers to play from.

        So, golf goes from being challenging to grating when…
        * Course developers think the local public links can be the next Bethpage Black, and design it for US Open rather Wednesday morning seniors league.
        * So that golfers don’t exploit the lob wedge too easily, new layouts tend to have outlandish bunkers that the average person can’t handle.
        * Too aggressive a layout leads to… that scourge we dare not speak of out loud… SLOW PLAY!
        * The greens crew accidentally sets up the Thursday pins for a scramble, forgetting that it’s a medal play tournament for the local amateur circuit. The #13 hole gets thrown out of scoring because most golfers have a 3- or a 4-putt going after the funhouse cup. (Replay hole #1 and use it as a replacement)

    • Geoffrey Holland

      Sep 7, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      Obviously these guys should be playing from the forward tees. Don’t call them ladies tees. But they’re obviously not long enough to play where they are playing from.

  21. Tim

    Sep 6, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    People who hit it 200 are not hitting the ball with the middle of the face. Well struck, an 85mph swing can result in 212+ yard drive. 90mph can result in 225+.

    Golf is more fun when you hit the ball further. Learn to hit the ball further.

    • Barney Adams

      Sep 8, 2019 at 11:18 pm

      Dear Tim
      I have one word for you; age ! Ps your numbers are off!

  22. Bruce

    Sep 6, 2019 at 4:26 pm

    I play at an RTG facility in Mobile,Al., where the courses host many tour level events and Barney is very right about the design aspect as a big detriment to the 192’ers of the world. This is a quality layout but the local muni, Azalea City, is on older design and is booked solid with 192’ers and not because of cost. The 2 courses are virtually the same money when riding a cart. The reason is at RTG one is required on virtually every approach to hit a high shot with spin to an elevated green. On not one occasion will there be an opportunity to run a shot on the green. Not one. This is a choice in design and as a result the course is under subscribed while the muni is over run with play and conditioning suffers as a result. This parallel is endemic in golf. We are building courses for the most skilled players while ignoring those that are the majority.

  23. JP

    Sep 6, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    Playing good or bad, it’s fun for me. It’s not a frustrating game unless that’s what you make it. For me, it’s a social game and I play with close friends that are awesome to hang out with. I can shoot 150 and I’d still have fun. Again, for me, it’s more about the company I keep than the score I shoot.

  24. darrell

    Sep 6, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Absolutely agree. Most players never break 90, some never break 100. Is that fun? Most play the wrong tees, ( if you’re not breaking 80), so how much fun is it, to never have a putt for a birdie? Of all the course designers, I prefer Arnold Palmer courses. In most cases, he leaves a “run up” option on most holes…..even the par 3’s. This helps players of all abilities……even pro’s might want to play a low running shot on a windy day.

  25. BobbyG

    Sep 6, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Adams golf products made the game fun for me.

  26. Ryan

    Sep 6, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    The “fun” aspect of “playing” golf comes from shooting low scores and hitting solid shots. However, that isn’t the only aspect of the game. The true “fun” aspect comes from being outside on beautiful days playing a round with your buddies where you are constantly ribbing each other over the smallest things. Seeing a buddy duff a putt and everyone cracks up laughing. Winning a few skins on them and then treating them to a round at the 19th. Its the friendships that make the game fun for us averages. We aren’t trying to play on tour.

    • Shallowface

      Sep 6, 2019 at 3:20 pm

      When I started as a youngster in the 1970s no one laughed at another player’s poor shots and there was no such thing as ribbing. It simply wasn’t tolerated. Fact is, it’s cruel and disrespectful, and just like when you point a finger at something and you have three pointing back at you, when it’s your turn to be ribbed it hurts three times worse than the amount of “fun” you got from whatever it was you inflicted on someone who alredy feels bad enough. I’ve had a number of young men tell me that the reason they stopped playing the game was that they could no longer tolerate the so-called good natured kidding from “buddies.” It’s unseemly, immature and it needs to disappear from the game. Grow up, kids.

      • Herman

        Sep 7, 2019 at 4:52 pm

        This made me laugh … hope I dint hurt your feelings

      • JThunder

        Sep 9, 2019 at 5:33 am

        If you can’t take “good natured kidding” from your buddies during a leisure activity in which you are not a professional, and this forces you to quit the game, then you need psychiatric help. You’re taking a leisure activity WAY too seriously, and you’re heading for high blood pressure and other stress-induced illnesses.

        • JThunder

          Sep 9, 2019 at 5:35 am

          I grew up in the 70s too, and kids could be brutal to each other. Teasing each other on the golf course would have been the least of anyone’s worries. Maybe you’re thinking of the 1950s, when kids weren’t allowed to speak without adult permission?

  27. StatGrad

    Sep 6, 2019 at 1:53 pm

    Just because one person sees it as rewarding doesn’t mean it’s not fun to others. Or some may even see it as both. No need to “Stop Calling It Fun.”

  28. Fergie

    Sep 6, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    You bait people to play golf by saying it’s fun. The rewarding aspect doesn’t kick in until you’re hitting reasonable shots. It’s then that the rewarding aspect kicks in.

    • JThunder

      Sep 9, 2019 at 5:24 am

      I hit the golf ball almost 100% of the time that I swing at it, and it usually stays in-bounds. The same cannot be said for the majority of people in a batter’s box, or playing tennis. The success rate of shooting a basketball or completing a pass are likewise much lower. Are we questioning whether all sports are “fun” or not?

      “Rewarding” being all about the score is akin to “success” being defined entirely by money.

  29. JThunder

    Sep 6, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    The real problem is not defining golf, but defining “fun”. “Fun” – like most everything else – has been relegated to lowest-common-denominator pursuits. A large demographic would define “fun” as attending Nascar and getting hammered; I would not.

    Webster’s defines fun as “what provides amusement or enjoyment”… A lot of people find challenges “enjoyable” – bearing in mind, golf is 100% voluntary for most people who play it. But, yes, if you don’t enjoy this particular challenge, you’ll likely not play the game. (Most video games are challenging and mostly you die before you win; that doesn’t seem to hurt sales…)

    Raise the next generation to view “enjoyment” differently. And to define words correctly (eg, “literally”).

    Declines in golf participation have the most to do with money and time – in that order. The middle class has pathetically little of the first and a decreasing amount of the second because of it. A challenge is one thing; an expensive 4-6 hour challenge is another.

  30. Acemandrake

    Sep 6, 2019 at 11:56 am

    A lot of older courses were designed with wide openings in front of the greens.

    This allowed the option of playing a low, running approach shot; an option appreciated by us slower swingers.

    • DB

      Sep 6, 2019 at 2:49 pm

      The old parks-style courses are great. Not only are they designed for an easy walk, but as you say most greens are wide open from the front. The only time you find a front bunker is maybe on a Par 5 or a short Par 3. There are no forced carries off the tee, it just wasn’t a thing. Slower swingers are free to play their 180-yard worm burner down the fairway on every hole.

  31. Tom Duckworth

    Sep 6, 2019 at 10:37 am

    When I come home from a round my wife asks if I had fun. I am never sure how to answer.

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The 19th Hole (Ep. 165): One-on-one with Shane Bacon



Host Michael Williams talks with the co-host of the Golf Channel’s Golf Today about the Open Championship and Collin Morikawa’s place in the history books.

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Opinion & Analysis

What’s old is new again



All of a sudden, today’s newest trend in golf is yesterday’s clubs.

Golfers are making a move towards old classics the way car enthusiasts would ogle a classic Porsche 911 before they would look twice at a new Tesla Model 3. On the spectrum of art to science, Tesla is peak science and focused on efficiency in every fathomable way. The other will absolutely get you from A to B, but you are more likely to have a smile on your face while you take the detour along the water while enjoying the journey to get there. It is the second type of club that is enjoying this latest resurgence, and I can’t get enough.

New businesses are springing up to refurbish old clubs such as @mulligansclubmakers and @twirledclubs with price tags approaching (and exceeding) the RRP at the time of release of many of the clubs in question. These old clubs are often found in pictures of major champions being used in the 1970s and 1980s, which serves to make them more valuable and interesting to enthusiasts. Other clubs are simply polished examples of the clubs many of us owned 25 years ago and now regret selling. The more polish on an old blade, the better, with classic designs from brands like Wilson Staff, Mizuno, or MacGregor seeing demand and prices increase every month. Seeing these old clubs reimagined with shiny BB&F co ferrules, updated shafts, and grips can get some golfers hot and bothered, and they will open their wallets accordingly.

Around 15 years ago, I bought an old set of blades from the brand Wood Brothers. For many years, I was unable to find out a single thing about those clubs, until @woodbrosgolf came out of hibernation this year onto Instagram and into a frothing market for handmade classic clubs from a forgotten past. I was able to get information that the blades had come out of the Endo forging house in Japan, and my decision to keep the clubs in the garage all these years was vindicated. Now I just need an irrationally expensive matching Wood Bros persimmon driver and fairway wood to complete the set…

Among other boutique brands, National Custom Works (@nationalcustom) has been making pure persimmon woods with the help of Tad Moore to match their incredible irons, wedges, and putters for some time, and now the market is catching up to the joy that can be experienced from striking a ball with the materials of the past. There is an illicit series of pictures of persimmon woods in all states of creation/undress from single blocks of wood through to the final polished and laminated artworks that are making their way into retro leather golf bags all over the world.

There are other accounts which triumph historic images and sets of clubs such as @oldsaltygolf. This account has reimagined the ‘What’s in the Bag’ of tour pros in magazines and made it cool to have a set of clubs from the same year that shows on your driver’s license. I hold them wholly to blame for an impulse buy of some BeCu Ping Eye 2 irons with matching Ping Zing woods… The joy to be found in their image feed from the 70s and 80s will get many golfers reminiscing and wishing they could go back and save those clubs, bags and accessories from their school days. If you want to see more moving pictures from the era, @classicgolfreplays is another account which shows this generation of clubs being used by the best of the best in their heyday. Even better than the clubs are the outfits, haircuts and all leather tour bags to match.

It seems that this new generation of golfer – partially borne out of COVID-19 — is in need of clubs that can’t be sourced fast enough from the major OEMs, so they have gone trawling for clubs that were cool in a different time, and they want them now. Those golfers who match the age of the clubs are also experiencing a golfing rebirth, as the technology gains from the OEMs become incremental, many are now finding enjoyment from the classic feel of clubs as much as they are searching for an extra couple of yards off the tee.

Either way, the result is the same, and people are dusting off the old blades and cavities from years past and hitting the fairways more than ever before. With the desire shifting towards fun over challenge, they are even creeping forward to the tees that their clubs were designed to be played from and finding even more enjoyment from the game. If only I hadn’t got rid of those old persimmons in high school…

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Top 4 reasons why most golfers don’t get better



A couple of years ago, I attended a symposium put on by Golf Digest’s research department. They explored the typical responses as to why people quit or don’t play more – too much time, too expensive, etc. But the magazine’s research department uncovered the real fact – by a large margin, the number one reason people give up the game is that they don’t get better!

So, with all that’s published and all the teaching pros available to help us learn, why is that? I have my rationale, so put on your steel toe work boots, because I’m probably going to step on some toes here.

The Top 4 Reasons Golfers Don’t Improve

  1. Most golfers don’t really understand the golf swing. You watch golf and you practice and you play, but you don’t really understand the dynamics of what is really happening at 100 mph during the golf swing. There are dozens of good books on the subject – my favorite is Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons – The Modern Fundamentals of Golf.” But pick any good one and READ IT. LEARN IT. It will help you immensely if you understand what the swing is really all about. Use a full length mirror to pose in key positions in the swing to match the drawings and photos. All the practice in the world will not help if you are not building a sound fundamental golf swing.
  2. Learning golf doesn’t start in the middle. A sound golf swing is built like a house. First the foundation, then the framing, roof, exterior walls, interior, paint, and trim. You can’t do one before the other. In golf, it all starts with the grip. If you do not hold the club properly, you’ll never accomplish a sound golf swing. Then you learn good posture and setup. If you don’t start in a good position, the body can’t perform the swing motion properly. With a good grip and a sound setup posture, I believe anyone can learn a functional golf swing pretty easily. But if those two foundations are not sound, the walls and roof will never be reliable.
  3. Most bad shots are ordained before the swing ever begins. I am rarely surprised by a bad shot, or a good one, actually. The golf swing is not a very forgiving thing. If you are too close to the ball or too far, if it’s too far forward or backward, if you are aligned right or left of your intended line, your chances of success are diminished quickly and significantly. The ball is 1.68 inches in diameter, and the functional striking area on a golf club is about 1.5-inches wide. If you vary in your setup by even 3/4 inch, you have imposed a serious obstacle to success. If you do nothing else to improve your golf game, learn how to set up the same way every time.
  4. Learn to “swing” the club, not “hit” the ball. This sounds simple, but the golf swing is not a hitting action: it’s a swinging action. The baseball hitter is just that, because the ball is in a different place every time – high, low, inside, outside, curve. He has to rely on quick eye-hand coordination. In contrast, the golf swing is just that – a swing of the club. You have total control over where the ball is going to be so that you can be quite precise in the relationship between your body and the ball and the target line. You can swing when you want to at the pace you find comfortable. And you can take your time to make sure the ball will be precisely in the way of that swing.

Learning the golf swing doesn’t require a driving range at all. In fact, your backyard presents a much better learning environment because the ball is not in the way to give you false feedback. Your goal is only the swing itself.

Understand that you can make a great swing, and often do, but the shot doesn’t work out because it was in the wrong place, maybe by only 1/4 inch or so. Take time to learn and practice your swing, focusing on a good top-of-backswing position and a sound rotating release through impact. Learn the proper body turn and weight shift. Slow-motion is your friend. So is “posing” and repeating segments of the swing to really learn them. Learn the swing at home, refine your ball striking on the range and play golf on the course!

So, there you have my four reasons golfers don’t get better. We all have our own little “personalization” in our golf swing, but these sound fundamentals apply to everyone who’s ever tried to move a little white ball a quarter-mile into a four-inch hole. Working on these basics will make that task much easier!

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