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Game of golf declining in US

While some New Jerseyans are certified “golf nuts,” the overall popularity of golf is declining in the U.S.  

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World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Round One
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“Golf is a fun, but challenging game – one that’s difficult to pick up right away,” said Rich Kennedy, the director of handicapping and membership at the New Jersey State Golf Association.  He added that it takes players a while to get to the point where they can actually play the game well, and not everybody wants to take the time to do that.

According to statistics from the National Golf Foundation that were published in the New York Post on July 12, about 160 golf courses closed in 2013 and 400,000 people left the sport.

In an effort to attract more players, golf officials are considering changing the way the game is played.

Kennedy explained some people are pushing to have golfers tee the ball forward, which would make the hole shorter and easier. “You’re going to feel better about yourself, feel better about your round of golf.”

Another suggestion is to promote the idea of playing fewer holes.

“The nine hole thing is another good idea because you can play nine holes in under two hours, and it doesn’t totally encompass your entire day. A four to six-hour round of golf intrudes on many people’s time with their families. It needs to be looked at,” Kennedy said.

Since most people take a long time to putt, reducing the number of actual greens in golf is another option that has been discussed.

“Instead of making it 18 holes, make six holes of really long holes,” said Kennedy. “So you’re only putting out on six holes, but the distance doesn’t change. Instead of it taking you four or five strokes to get to the hole, it’s taking you probably 10 strokes to get to a hole. You’re literally just wacking the ball up a long golf hole.”

As for the idea of enlarging the size of the cup so it’s as big as a bucket, Kennedy called it an interesting idea.  “It could be a lot of fun. I’d like to play a golf course like that.”

No matter what happens with the game, Kennedy said the pace of play needs to be increased, especially with putting. “Everybody is measuring their putts, looking for the break, marking the ball, cleaning the ball. There’s this methodical way we go about things. There’s etiquette, and this does slow things down.”


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