Saturday, November 29, 2008

Average Golfer Quandry: Double the Size of the Golf Hole?

My great friend Dean Miller is a thinker. He thinks more than anyone I've ever met. His thinking results in ideas, some of which are labeled "Gee, that's interesting", the rest labeled, "Huh?". He recently suggested to me that golf would be more interesting to watch and certainly more satisfying for amateurs to play if the size of the hole was doubled. At first this sounds a little like a lunatic fringe rant, but if you really think about it.....

The standard size for a golf hole was determined in 1891 by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. They felt it was finally a time for standardization of the hole size, as they were in the process of standardizing everything else about golf, short of trouser selection. The decided size landed at 4.25 inches. A prevalent rumor is that a nearby club, Musselburgh Links, had invented a hole cutter derived from a piece of pipe that was, you guessed it, 4.25 inches in diameter. True or not, it's definitely convenient. With golf ball size mandated at no less than 1.68 inches, the ball is 39.5% of the hole size. Compare that to basketball where the ball is exactly 50% of the hoop size. Would that suggest that sinking a 15 foot putt should be easier than making a free throw? Maybe for Shaq.

Assuming the hole size was doubled putting would obviously be easier. That means quicker rounds for amateurs and half of the discouragement that forces some beginners to quit the game out of frustration. "Gimme" distance would increase and "inside the leather" would be outdated.
From a professional perspective we'd spend much less time watching pros agonize over every putt as if their very lives depended on it. Great ball strikers and accurate approach shots would finally receive their due reward. No more three putt pars on par fives after hitting a green in two. TV air times could be reduced and golf tournaments would cease to seem as long as a trip to the dentist. Maybe, just maybe, we would see the demise of the ridiculous plumb bob, which is as confidence inspiring as a divining rod. Anyone ever see Tiger Woods plumb bob? More chip-ins, pitch-ins, and shots holed from the fairway. What's not to like? Golf tournaments would at last become a staple on SportsCenter, a continuous highlight reel.

Of course if you doubled the size of the hole all current tournament scoring records would be rendered obsolete. Hey, that wasn't a problem for Major League Baseball when their record books were assaulted by steroid munching superstars. Hmm, 500 yard drives and 10 putts per round. Someone could shoot in the 40s.

Til' next,


  1. thanks for the mention on your site,baseball also has lowered the mound,made alot of the newer stadiums smaller,and pumped up the ball over the has given the reciever more room with the rules on interference,made the quarterback almost untouchable, and the way you tackle someone may cost you a huge, you can now palm it, travel with it,and if you are a star, it's almost impossible to foul out,(and if your not, don't even breath on one), hockey just through up it's hands and let almost everyone in the playoffs.most of the changes here i would guess were not voted on by the fans.change the hole size, make it a more rounded game(driving, pitching, chipping, and putting somewhere near even in there importance. dean

  2. At first read I thought this was ridiculous. Would there really be faster rounds with a bigger hole? Most amateurs waste more time on the course than on the greens it would seem.

    But what the heck. Since golf holes are replaceable every day, maybe some club could try this out. Hold a "Big Hole" tournament and see what happens, both with time and scoring. Next day just fill in the hole again. They would have to come up with a larger hole-cutter and figure out where to put the cut-out part so as to keep its grass alive for replacement, but that seems doable.

    Maybe they will start a trend. My guess is, however, that the first "Big Hole" tournament will be the last.

  3. I like the way you think. "Big Hole Open". It's got a nice ring to it.

    Most of the people I play with waste their time on the greens. They're not ready to putt when it's their turn and then they check the line out from all four sides like they're in the Masters, only to leave it 2 feet short.

    The other big question is whether putting carries too much weight in the game. It seems that many tournaments come down to putting, but is it true? If it's true how come Brad Faxon was never a big winner.

    Thanks for the visit.

  4. Wouldn't work. I'd just make the better putters have even more of an advantage. They'd never miss.

    I'm pretty sure Hogan tried this years ago and he's hated putting.

  5. Hogan said, "Putting's not golf". I think I've echoed that more than once.

    Don't you think the great putters would still be great and the bad putters bad? The main advantage would be to speed up the game.