Jack Nicklaus is the greatest golfer to play the game, but I’m not entirely sure I agree with his premise that golf courses are closing around the country because of the golf ball.
Here’s what Nicklaus said during the HSBC Golf Business Forum in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida:
“Fact is, more golf courses have closed in the U.S. in each of the last 10 years than have opened,” Nicklaus said. “This is thanks in great part to changes in the golf ball and the distance it travels. Courses have had to change along with it. It’s now a slower game and more expensive than before, and that can’t be a good thing.”
Nicklaus is correct in that more courses have closed in the last 10 years than have opened. He’s also correct when he says golf is slow and expensive, but when he blames the distance the ball travels as the main issue, I disagree. Golf isn’t slow because the ball goes farther; golf is slow because most amateur golfers suck. They lose golf balls and spend time looking for them. They spend time with their range finders getting exact distances to pins they won’t come close to hitting and then agonize over every putt, reading them as if they were Patrick Reed attempting to secure a Ryder Cup victory.
Nicklaus went on to offer a solution that doesn’t seem like it would make golf any cheaper:
“We don’t want to change the game for the core golfer, but we need to make every effort to offer alternatives to bring more people into the game and keep them in the game,” Nicklaus said. “I think we need to develop a golf ball to suit the golf course, rather than build courses to suit a golf ball. Whether it’s a ball that goes 50%, 75%, or 100%, you play a ball that fits the course and your game.”
So that means that amateurs will now have to buy more sets of golf balls in order to play more than one course. I know Jack has money, but I’m not a big fan of buying 24 golf balls for $50 and I know I wouldn’t enjoy being told I cannot play those golf balls on only certain courses. If anything, the solution Nicklaus is presenting seems like it would drive people away from the game and only add more costs for those golfers who play somewhat regularly. Not to mention that hitting a golf ball farther means fewer shots and fewer shots means faster rounds.
The game of golf just doesn’t fit in with the ideals millennials have about time management. They’re lazy and definitely don’t want to spend three to five hours on a golf course, even if they’re driving a cart to their ball after every shot. Pushing golf ball size changes may make sense to Jack, but for those who don’t want to spend more money on balls and be limited to playing only certain courses with them it definitely doesn’t.
But hey, who am I to question Jack Nicklaus?