Can Alternative Rules Save Golf?

Rating: 
Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

Can a new association that promotes alternative rules save golf?

Many today feel that USGA’s rules stifle creativity and depress play among beginners. The Alternative Golf Association, through its Flogton project, hopes to set the rules of 'golf for the rest of us.’

“We hope to preserve and promote all of the characteristics we love about golf while relaxing its rules, social restrictions and technological limitations to popularize a game – a competitive sport – where more of us can have success and more of us can have fun,” said Scott McNealy, commissioner of the new association. “And I think the AGA can do for golf courses what snowboarding did for ski slope operators."

Most agree that the ski industry was saved by a huge influx of young snowboarders. Flogton hopes to reach out to the same demographics by allowing mulligans, 6-foot bumps and non-conforming balls and clubs. The AGA plans to develop both rules and equipment with the assistance of an online community.

“We want new ideas, feedback, inventions,” said Bob Zider, founder of the association. “We aren’t tied to any existing rules and we don’t have to observe any current limits – everything is open to discussion, including our name and our logo, and especially the game formats and rules, and the equipment possibilities.”

Can Flogton catch on? If so, can it make a difference for the industry?

Comments

Real estate sales; an expanding economy; slope grooming, advances in ski and ski clothing technology and almost no new competition had more influence on saving the ski industry than snowboarding. Recommendations for 'making golf more enjoyable" -install more forward tees -create a handicap system for winter rules -widen fairways and green surrounds -reduce height of roughs -grass/sod bunkers that front greens -remove trees planted within 30 feet of fairways unless branches do not inhibit swings -brand name golf clubs for beginners -I don't believe a completely new set of rules and regulations are necessary

I think there may be considerable merrit in a "recreational golf" set of rules (keep the current "tournament golf" rules as well). Either set of rules could be used on a given course simultaneously. Recreational golf would be simple: 1. Lift, clear, and place within 12" anywhere on the course, including hazzards. At the cost of 1 stroke penalty, place your ball anywhere on the golf hole, not closer to the pin (e.g. if your in the trash with no shot, you can drop in the middle of the fairway with one stroke penalty). You can ground the club anywhere on the course. You can use any number or kind of clubs you wish (although, I suggest 10 clubs are more than enough). For those that have no interest in score, don't.

How about a larger hole for amateur play, ie 6"

As an operator of two struggling golf courses any game that resembles golf, uses clubs and balls, that puts more people on the first tee the better off the entire industry will be. 6" holes - yes alongside regulation holes met some resistance from regulars. Shorter tees - actual tee boxes designed at PGA Family Tee lengths. Where the rules and tradtions of the game are hindering its growth and leaving tee times available is where there is an opportunity to bring more customers to the courses.

Maybe this is the way to save golf. Bruto landscape architecture recently lounched a new design trade mark BRUTOGOLF, which is dedicated to new and different golf course design. Designing golf courses is a challenge, both in formal as in conceptual sense. Especially, because we look at it from two angles, as landscape architects on one hand, and as golfers on the otherm hand. A golf course is a physical system, where a number of parameters are related to a complex whole. We believe that it is possible to create different, copyright courses, which are nonetheless playable, attractive and last, but not least well attended. We believe that the courses all over the world are too similar; therefore we offer two alternative golf course designs. A more reserved one, where the golf course is more consistent with the space and takes into account local characteristics and landscape patterns, and a more daring one, where the courses are conceptually based theme parks. You are welcome to visit our new website; www.brutogolf.com Best regards Matej Kucina, landscape architect +386 41795309 www.bruto.si

Not sure where others play and who they play with. Except for the rare outing or tournament round, I cannot remember a round where the group played to the rules of golf. Putts are given, balls are dropped near the out of bounds boundary or somewhere near where lost, and mulligans are rather commonplace. Golfers have already adapted their own accepted "rules" to deal with the difficulty of the game. What about making the courses easier? That must be the answer. Well, I was at the TPC Sawgrass last week. Not an easy course yet packed. If you haven't played there, be prepared for a backup at 17. You see most players cannot hit the green with their first shot yet almost all will reload until they do. Seems people like a little challenge when they play a round of golf. That's part of what makes it so much fun to hit a great shot or make a great score. What's the hardest shot to make and the one most celebrated when achieved? Of course, it's the hole in one. OK, it simply takes too much time to play. Well, most courses welcome 9 hole play and practice facilities are available for those who do not have 2 hours to play 9. I don't buy it that it takes too long as an excuse for not playing or playing more. What about modifying the playing "field" like ski hills (moguls/snowboarding) and bowling (laser light bowling)? You know, put in bigger cups, build new tees to create a shorter distances, lessen the distances between greens and tees to make it easier to walk, remove trees, widen fairways, make the greens slower, etc., etc. Good course operators already set their courses up with their customers in mind. Some changes suggested would simply alienate the core players that enjoy the game as is so what would be the net change? Would the new golfers spend as much per round as the existing ones? Some courses have created events like night golf to appeal to the non-traditional golfers with great success. There are also courses that allow and encourage frisbee golf to be played side by side with traditional golfers. Set up a baskets near the green and you're in business. For as long as I can remember, there have been facilities offering mini-golf, night driving range use for the younger demographic and indoor golf in urban areas that can support it. The point is, the golf industry is evolving. It has always provided feeder activities like smacking a few range balls or putt-putt golf to get people interested in the real thing. Players have figured out how to create fun ways to play and fun games to play on the course to increase their enjoyment. Golf has challenges like most any other industry does. The fact that it is a totally discretionary experience and expenditure, and that it is doing so good, is attributable to the enduring appeal of the game that touches us so deeply once we are "bit by the golf bug." Perhaps we do not have to fix the game. Maybe, we just need to tell the story better.

The 6" hole concept is intriguing, but difficult to integrate with simultaneous traditional use. Two pins per green? That might cause some rules issues for the traditional player. Maybe its best suited for multiple layout facilities where the big hole rotates on the various 9s or 18s. How about eliminating "par" from the game. All par does is frustrate the casual player who can rarely achieve it. Plus, it dictates club choice (i.e. driver when it's not appropriate or necessary) for many on par 4s and 5s who often choose their club based on the rating of the hole (par) rather than the most apprpriate shot choice. On another note, in this age of portable electronics, why haven't we integrated music more into the game? Music relaxes. Put it in carts... but keep a "governor" on the volume. Build mp3 docking stations into golf bags. Wouldn't life be grander if we could all have a soundtrack continually playing in the background?!?

If we make the changes that McNealey suggests, even if they became popular, it wouldn't be golf. It would be something else. The initial attraction of the game for me was its challenge. I also enjoyed the beautiful venues. I've been playing the game for 45 years and even founded an association for avid golfers about 25 years ago which I have since sold. I can tell you, however, that if I were new to golf today I wouldn't be a golfer. It's too damned expensive, especially for a new golfer. The green fees are off the charts, even at the local muni's. If we want the game to grow, we need to find ways to get the green fees down; way down in most cases. If some of the courses can't cover their costs, those courses will have to do the best they can in reducing their fees and managing their costs. but there are just far too many courses that are so profit driven that they don't want to leave a single dollar on the table. In some cases, it's pure greed. In those cases, the industry has nobody but themselves to blame. Many of our private clubs have learned that lesson the hard way during the current recession. Hopefully, they will remember the lesson learned when the economy improves. That's my two cents.

Sure it's golf, just a modern quick play, affordable and less frustrating alternative version. Not intended for the narrowminded traditionalist golfer. In ten+ years this will be the game of choice with progressive golfers eventually taking over. In playing the game for 47 years, have watched it's slow decline, which now has caused many to look in new alternative directions for golfing enjoyment. I'm one of them and left the standard golf game because of time, cost and frustration issues. You wonder why the golf game is now losing golfers? They're not all leaving the golf game, many got smart and switched to a more enjoyable alternative. Some accept the brilliance in change, some never do.

Yeh Let's take a wonderful game that has evolved over hundreds of years but kept a core set of principles intact, and totally screw it up. Another triumph for the quick fix , shortsighted modern north-american approach to everything.

Not everyone is a seasoned golfer, yes. Not everyone is only a recreational golfer, yes. But I think by doing only one, you cut out the other. There needs to be a place of middle ground. I think FREE sites like Golfzing.com are working in that direction. They are allowing people to grow their own groups, thus creating their own rules, and offering recreational tournaments with a more relaxed approach to tournaments. In addition, the courses that they utilize do their best to assist Golfzing members to save money! I think that a lot more research needs to be done by people who complain, because there are a lot of places out there that they can utilize without paying crazy fees.

TRADITIONALIST GOLFERS KINDLY STEP ASIDE, PLEASE. Alternative golf is just part of the natural evolution of the game. If enough people don't like it's present slow, costly and difficult form, they'll change it to their liking. With the golf game now undergoing alteration, you can look for a new generation of alternative golf coming soon to a course near you. Sure there will be diehard traditionalists holding on, they always do, but eventually their numbers will dwindle down to a precious few. The folly of the standard golf game is evident, with fewer golfers playing, older golfers leaving and new golfers refusing to accept the status quo...the computer generated die is cast.

Compromising on the rules of any game to satisfy losers is never an answer. That is how our daily society became such a mess!

I play traditional golf and I enjoy it but the price to play is huge as a new golfer. That is why I also play off-course golf, its cheap/free and fun. As a new golfer, I hate playing with golf snobs. Look at this site http://offcoursegolfing.wordpress.com -John

I am 24 years old. When I was 17 I tried golf for the first time with a few baseball teammates on a whim and as a joke. I had an absolute blast. I was awful, and loved playing. I didn't wish for a bigger target, or an easier time, I wanted to play for the challenge. I never would have played the game if not for the irony in the "Yeah, let's go see how bad this goes!" sort of terms. The USGA simply needs to market itself to its target demographic (presumably younger players). If a kid is not on the Golf Channel he isn't going to see a thing about golf and why he should play it. And if he doesn't play golf, why would he be watching the Golf Channel? A series of commercials with dramatic lighting and louder music would during NFL games would do wonders for the sport of golf. Why are they spending their advertising dollars on a channel that already has 90%+ of its viewers playing the game already? That is backwards thinking. There is nothing wrong with the game of golf, you just have to make people know that.

Well said. I'm currently reading this book and while it does get the mind thinking, these guys are missing the point. Granted, I haven't finished it, and I'm glad that people from outside the industry are taking interest in the core issue, but there are some things you must maintain and other things that must be changed. Travis Mathew is missing the point too. People are focusing on the wrong things. You don't just slap a new logo on a golf shirt. That doesn't do anything. Don't change the rules...I cringe when people bring up a four point line in basketball. There's a way to make golf more appealing, a way that I've finally figured out and am excited to put into action.

1. Ball lands in the fairway, and comes to rest in a divot, sprinkler, hole, non-grassy area; it may be “rolled with a club head” no more than one club length, no closer to the hole. No penalty. Your ball may lift for inspection (no penalty) if you suspect these conditions applies. 2. Ball lands, and comes to rest in a bunker you may, lift rake and replace the ball (Except a buried lie). 3. No more than 3 stokes over par per hole. Example: (Par 3 = 6) (Par 4 = 7) (Par 5 = 8). 4. Ball comes to rest in a mowed area around the green which contains “no grass or patchy grass.” The ball may be “rolled with a club head” to a grassy area, no more than the length of a club, and no closer to the hole. No penalty. 5. A “Give-Me” putt is defined as “inside the leather” meaning the length of the putter shaft, excluding the grip, and must be “offered” to you by a playing partner/companion. 6. You may ground your club in a hazard, no penalty. 7. One Mulligan per nine (Tee shot only). One free drop/place per nine (only if the ball is in the rough) no closer to the hole, not back into the fairway, and no more than one club length. Drop/place and Mulligan’s may not be carried over; use them or lose them. 8. Out of Bounds, lost ball in water hazard: Drop/place ball in the fairway at the point it left the fairway and became lost, no closer to the hole. Penalty = One Stroke. 9. Ball takes a “non-typical” bounce when it lands due to it hitting a sprinkler head, rock/stone, stick, beer can, bird or any other foreign object. If lost or if it bounces into the rough or a hazard, drop/place the ball in the nearest fairway location, no penalty. 10. The ball lands in the fairway, or first cut of rough, and is/was expected to be “reasonably found” by the golfer, and subsequently “disappears”. Drop/place in the approximate area, with no penalty. 11. A player is entitled to move the ball one club length to get relief from an immovable object (Telephone Pole, Fences, Drain Pipes, Maintenance Equipment, Rocks, etc.) with no penalty. 12. The flagstick does not need to removed/pulled unless it is requested by the player who is chipping or putting. If the ball hits the flagstick, and is not holed, there is no penalty. If the ball comes to rest against the flag stick, it is considered holed.

1. Ball lands in the fairway, and comes to rest in a divot, sprinkler, hole, non-grassy area; it may be “rolled with a club head” no more than one club length, no closer to the hole. No penalty. Your ball may lift for inspection (no penalty) if you suspect these conditions applies. 2. Ball lands, and comes to rest in a bunker you may, lift rake and replace the ball (Except a buried lie). 3. No more than 3 stokes over par per hole. Example: (Par 3 = 6) (Par 4 = 7) (Par 5 = 8). 4. Ball comes to rest in a mowed area around the green which contains “no grass or patchy grass.” The ball may be “rolled with a club head” to a grassy area, no more than the length of a club, and no closer to the hole. No penalty. 5. A “Give-Me” putt is defined as “inside the leather” meaning the length of the putter shaft, excluding the grip, and must be “offered” to you by a playing partner/companion. 6. You may ground your club in a hazard, no penalty. 7. One Mulligan per nine (Tee shot only). One free drop/place per nine (only if the ball is in the rough) no closer to the hole, not back into the fairway, and no more than one club length. Drop/place and Mulligan’s may not be carried over; use them or lose them. 8. Out of Bounds, lost ball in water hazard: Drop/place ball in the fairway at the point it left the fairway and became lost, no closer to the hole. Penalty = One Stroke. 9. Ball takes a “non-typical” bounce when it lands due to it hitting a sprinkler head, rock/stone, stick, beer can, bird or any other foreign object. If lost or if it bounces into the rough or a hazard, drop/place the ball in the nearest fairway location, no penalty. 10. The ball lands in the fairway, or first cut of rough, and is/was expected to be “reasonably found” by the golfer, and subsequently “disappears”. Drop/place in the approximate area, with no penalty. 11. A player is entitled to move the ball one club length to get relief from an immovable object (Telephone Pole, Fences, Drain Pipes, Maintenance Equipment, Rocks, etc.) with no penalty. 12. The flagstick does not need to removed/pulled unless it is requested by the player who is chipping or putting. If the ball hits the flagstick, and is not holed, there is no penalty. If the ball comes to rest against the flag stick, it is considered holed.

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to sign up for a FREE digital subscription, click here!