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 "Gimme" distance would increase and "inside the leather" would be outdated.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.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Posted by Average Golfer at 6:32 PM