Gordon on Golf

In praise of…

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(Claus Andersen/ Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada)

Spring is a time of renewal, revival, rebirth. So, in the spirit of the season, here are some golfing suggestions along those lines.

As a theme, let’s call this “In Praise Of …”

Match Play: With the notable exception of North America, match play is the preferred format over stroke play. Rather than try to finish 18 holes with a lower cumulative score than your fellow competitor, you compete on a per-hole basis. If you have the lower score on a hole, you win that hole and move on to the next. If you are out of the hole, you concede it to your opponent and you move to the next tee.  Whoever wins the most holes, wins the match – which might not take a full 18 holes. The rest of the world thinks match play is more equitable, more enjoyable and faster. Why don’t we?

Nine-hole Rounds: It’s a fad these days to suggest six-hole and 12-hole courses. What happened to the traditional nine-hole round? Do you realize nine-holers comprise about 40 per cent of Canada’s courses? And many 18-hole layouts are two nine-hole loops that each return to the clubhouse. Hit a few balls on the range, take a couple of practice putts, play nine, and you’re heading home in less than three hours. Half the time, about half the price, and much more than half the fun of 18 holes!

Half Sets of Clubs: Just like the nine-hole round, a half set of golf clubs is a concept worth praising, not just for beginners, but for every recreational golfer. And not just for the obvious financial savings. Grab a 3- and 5-wood, a 4-hybrid, a 6- and 8-iron, a sand wedge and a putter, a light stand bag and you’re good to go. Using a half set makes you a more creative shotmaker because not every club is dialed in for a specific yardage, as they are in a full set.  Give it a try and see how much of a difference, if any, there is in your score than when you play with 14 clubs. You’ll be surprised.

Walking: Carrying a half set of clubs for nine holes is one of golf’s great pleasures. Go for 18 if you’re up to it and you will have walked the equivalent of eight kilometres and burned 2,000 calories. If carrying isn’t an option because of physical condition, age or other factors, consider a push cart or an electric caddie. Once again, North Americans lag far behind the rest of the golfing world in the use of these admirable contraptions. If we’re not walking, we tend to jump into a power cart, thus missing most of the health and aesthetic benefits of the game, not to mention the added expense. As a start this spring, how about walking the front nine and riding on the back nine?

Playing YOUR Course: The testosterone-based fixation on building courses in excess of 7,000 yards had much to do with elevating the cost of golf. Every golfer who played those courses had to pay for the design, construction and maintenance of the additional 500 to 1,000 yards that only a tiny fraction of golfers actually had the ability to play. Have a look at the Tee It Forward concept. Swallow your ego and admit how far you actually hit your driver and that will indicate what length of course you should be playing for optimum enjoyment. For example, if your driver distance is 175 yards, you will have the most fun and score your best on a 4,500-yard course. If your average drive is 225, step back to 5,900; 250 with the driver equates to a 6,300-yard course, and so on.

Family Golf: In an age when the family dynamic is stressed and stretched, what better way to strengthen it than to play golf? More and more courses are encouraging family involvement through junior and adult beginner programs, couples’ leagues, family events, and other initiatives. If your course doesn’t offer these programs, look for a more progressive one to call home.

This year, fellow golfers, let’s spring forward and not fall back. Get out of your rut.

Start this season by carrying a half set for nine holes, playing a match with at least one family member. You’ll be well on your way to making golf more enjoyable, quicker, and affordable.

See, we’ve just solved most of golf’s challenges.

Next: World peace.