Cost, time and difficulty; the three largest factors in stalling off what was to be golf’s next Golden Age. Golf officialdom loves to chatter about the problems. Fixes are another matter.
I’m not surprised. The ruling bodies are blue-bloods with memberships at Winged Foot, Augusta, Royal Melbourne, Cypress Point and for good measure some joint from the Open rota, and I mean each member individually, not the group collectively. These guys, and since golf is only partially Paleolithic, a few gals key on “protecting” the game from the 0.01% of practitioners who truly know how to play, while the millions of we hackateurs, whom the R&A and USGA reputedly represent, sputter along being thankful to lose only 45 bucks worth of balls per nine.
But, you know, I don’t really care about costs. I don’t care if courses have gotten so nasty that my index couldn’t stand up even with auto-inflate technology expropriated from the car industry. Time? Get me the hell on and off the golf course in a timely fashion.
Golf Reality, Act 2: Nothing to See Here Folks, Please MOVE Along
As the root of all evil and the cure for every problem is coin, I say we fix the Plague of Golf by monetizing it.
Set aside the first half of every day, or all of every other day, or one day each weekend for those who want to play in a respectable amount of time. Four hours would be nice, let’s go with 4:20 as a starting point, and once the American tortoise gets its legs and sensibility back tighten it up. It’s a simple process.
1. You pay your green fee plus some extra amount the loss of which would be felt. So let’s go with twice the green fee for everyone not playing in Hawai’i, Florida, Arizona, California and particularly Vegas, the places where the art of green fee as usury is Picasso-grade. Let’s go 50 bucks for the first four, and a Ben for Vegas.
2. You provide valid ID.
3. You sign a contract.
Simple. Three steps. And the contract says, in a nutshell, “Get half way around in 2:10 and put the stick back on 18 at 4:20 and you get your deposit back.” The malefactors will get the point. A second infraction and they’re 86’d, for life, a year, six months; three-strikes is for sissies. Life improves for those of us who don’t plumb-bob, do a 720-degree orbit of every green or really care what part of the ball is pointing at the hole. Bowling gets a needed boost.
The casualty in all this will be those suckling on the golf teat, the free-golf-seeking, no-way-I’m-going-to-marshal marshals. They’ll be out of “work,” replaced by time-stamp clocks that don’t fear four drunken rogues who in the previous system should have been instructed to pick up and move two holes ahead. Of course they were not so told and it would not have done any good anyway. Sorry gramps. You’re out. (I might want to revisit this in about 20 years, however. Free golf rocks and I might just have quit writing by then.)
Now don’t tell me how impractical this is. Timing stations will be arrayed throughout the course, and it will be obvious if players on pace hit any logjams. That won’t speed up play necessarily, but it will show who needs to pay. And like muscle memory, it will just take a little time for it all to sink in.
Actually, I prefer the idea of GPS units relaying data back to the Mother Ship. Courses will be rolling in so much more cash from the increased rounds played—not to mention the massive bar proceeds when the 19th hole returns to prominence for more than one pop and a simpering call to the spouse—that the cost won’t matter. Lotsa courses already are spying on us via in-cart GPS. Walkers would receive a clip-on unit. On second thought, there would be no carts since they slow down play in and of themselves.
Really imaginative courses will reward those who come in ahead of schedule. That’s called lagniappe in NOLA, a little something special as a gift, reward or as a welcome or a thank you. I’d suggest lappies but that might prove impractical. A sleeve of balls would be nice, or a pint of Stone IPA.
Someone get Far Hills, NJ, on the phone for me. We have a game to save.
In our next installment: Iron covers, really? And much more.