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|Bad golfers have been raising greens fees for everyone for too long. Tucker offers a new plan that can solve this. (Brandon Tucker/GolfPublisher.com)|
Every so often the golfing public is reminded of a statistic, many times from a teaching instructor selling a new DVD: the average golfer - about a 19 handicap - hasn't gotten better in years, despite all the advances the game has made.
After all, haven't we switched from persimmon to space metals for more forgiveness?
Haven't we switched over to soft spikes to make greens roll truer?
Haven't we subscribed to numerous golf magazines that offer three cover stories on "how to cure your slice" each year?
But it's all been in vain.
There is a fundamental reason at the core of why we aren't shooting any better than our persimmon-clad ancestors. It isn't longer courses, poorer instruction advice or the onslaught of Attention Deficit Disorder that has turned all our brains into putty.
Think about the one thing that has remained a constant since almost the beginning of golf as a commercial commodity.
It's how we pay for a round of golf.
All this time greens fees have been based on 18 holes, no matter how many shots, 67 or 107, we take on the course.
You pay by the chicken wing at a sports bar. You pay by the song on iTunes.
Golfers should pay by the shot on the golf course.
But it's never been considered - a result of a giant, industry-wide conspiracy. Let me show you how far the rabbit hole goes.
Club manufacturers want you to shoot poorly so you seek the newest technology. Ball makers don't want you to think "course management," so you hit driver when there is water on the right and a gorse-laden abyss on the left. Golf magazines don't want you to score so you keep re-subscribing to their recycled lessons.
But there is no true motivation to go low because we pay for a round no matter what we shoot.
That's doesn't sound like capitalism. "Everyone pays the same, no matter what"? Hey, this is golf, not Canada's health care system.
In my proposed system, courses would charge 50 cents to a dollar per shot on an average course, maybe $2 or $2.50 for Pinehurst or somewhere upscale. Juniors, women and seniors receive a discount.
What if you're one of those players who would rather not keep score, but want to instead just drink beer, smoke stogies and talk on your cell? That's fine. You can pay a flat rate: the equivalent of shooting 120.
This new system will keep duffers off the 7,300-yard tees and the super-stingy will play from the red tees. Rounds will go faster because golfers will be hitting shots they are more confident in and not closing their eyes and whacking 3-woods from high rough. "Inside the leather" is at the discretion of the course.
Low-handicappers are rewarded for their commitment to the game by saving money and sharing the links with fewer hacks. Motivation isn't dropping a tenth of a stroke on your handicap, it's going home with green in your wallet.
The big question of course is enforcement. Surely the honor of keeping your own score will be kaput if each stroke costs hard cash.
The answer is simple: surveillance that would make Las Vegas casinos whimper. Closed-circuit devices in cameras in golf carts, tee markers and flags. Spies hidden in trees. No shot goes uncharted.
I know, this system might get a little ugly at first. There may even be a "revolt at Shady Oaks" report here and there. But just like taxes, in time, we'll all get used to it.
May 15, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.
The sun came out over Wales Monday, and Senior Writer Brandon Tucker ditched the final round of Ryder Cup play for 18 holes at nearby Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club. As the Americans rallied and ultimately fell short, Tucker offers his unique perspective on the European victory and the celebration that ensued.
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