You will probably think that golf’s latest plan to get new people playing has a few holes in it

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 10, 2014 11:52

A golf organisation that is backed by players, equipment manufacturers and industry leaders has devised a radical way to halt the decline in golf: Make the holes bigger. More than three times bigger.

golf hole 2

Golf has been in sharp decline in many of its established territories in the world, such as the UK and USA, for several years, as falling membership and participation numbers have led to many venues closing down.

One of the biggest problems that the game has is the time it takes to play it – a typical 18-hole round usually requires at least half a day of a participant’s time.

To combat this, golf authorities have devised new ways to speed up the game, from reducing the number of holes needed to play a round to motivating golfers to play the game more quickly.

However, this new concept marks a sea change in that thinking and shows that the less radical ideas are not having the effect the authorities have hoped.

The TaylorMade-adidas Golf-funded organisation, HackGolf, which is trying to get more people to play golf, has introduced the 15-inch golf hole, more than three times bigger than the typical diameter of a golf hole, from approximately 4.25 inches to about the size of a pizza.

HackGolf believes nearly 100 golf courses are interested in giving the larger holes a try. At the venues that have already trialed it, the average length of an 18-hole round has been reduced by nearly an hour, and golfers saw a 10-stroke improvement on their scores.

Ted Bishop, president of the Professional Golfers Association of America, believes the larger holes could help the game.

He said: “We’ve got to stop scaring people away from golf by telling them that there is only one way to play the game.”

Two leading players, Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, have played nine holes using the ‘giant holes’, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, saw little improvement in their scores.

Sergio Garcia said: “A 15 inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers score better, play faster and like golf more.”

golf hole

The concept of larger holes is not exactly new. The golf course designer Jonathan Gaunt has been calling for larger holes for several years. He said: “What would make the powers in charge of the game consider changing the size of the golf hole, for amateur golf only, to, say, six inches?

“On short or academy courses, maybe the hole size could be even larger, say eight inches? The result would be fewer putts, lower scores, more exciting and enjoyable rounds of golf and more holes in one, and quicker rounds of golf.”

“It is clear our game needs something to recapture the incredible growth and momentum we were experiencing a decade ago,” said Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf. “Whether it is this 15-inch-cup concept or an idea that comes in from outside the industry, we need to spark a revolution that will bring new participants to the game.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir July 10, 2014 11:52
  • @MikeDCrowe

    A 15 inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers like golf more #golf

  • Bish

    What a good idea!
    Well done Mark King.
    I think it would be very encouraging for youngsters.

  • @43jimmyk

    The result is fewer putts, lower scores, more exciting golf and quicker rounds

  • Peter Mills

    And herein lies the problem. The issue is not hole size on the course it is hole size in many players heads. Be ready to play and cut out the dawdling and 3hr 20 mins is plenty for any round. Hole size is not the problem, it is the fourballs that come into the clubhouse and say “four hours haven’t we done well”!

  • @vinny76

    I Like it!! #speedupplay

  • Deanne Tager Smith (@QueenieQantas)

    First foot golf, and now Hack Golf, bigger golf holes seem the way forward?

  • Baz

    Could potentially make the problem worse as the normal hole will look even smaller when a golfer gets used to playing with the bigger holes. Im all for the idea put both on the green and let the customer decide…..

  • Essex Golf (@golfessex)

    You will probably think that golf’s latest plan to get new people playing has a few holes in it via @@gcm_mag

  • SilvioTheGolfGuy

    How do you get these golf holes in England? Do I need to speak to TaylorMade?

    My club has a shorter course for ladies, juniors etc.. we should trial these

  • Aaron White

    It seems like a logical help in hand for the beginners and amateur golfers of all ages and for both men and women. I would assume the 15inch sized holes can improve how quick you take the short (decision making), accuracy, however good be a long way off when they decide to step it up to official sized holes.

  • golffrog

    Golf isn’t the only sport we should make easier.
    LETS do it for:
    Tennis – lose the net
    Basketball – lower the hoop
    Snooker – make all the balls black
    Water Polo – play it in the shallow end
    Croquet – make the balls smaller
    Darts – cluster the big numbers together
    Oh wait. We have these compensated constructs of some games already. They were created for CHILDREN 10 AND UNDER! Learn, practice and develop a skill!