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Architect has lots to say about state of golf


January 28, 2014
By Mike Jiggens

It was interesting to listen to Canadian golf course architect Doug Carrick speak in December at the 25th annual Ontario Seed Company/Nutrite professional turfgrass seminar in Waterloo. We sat at the same table and had a chance to chat for a few minutes before he was called up to the podium.

The question I wanted to ask him was one in which I pretty much knew the answer before it was asked. Is there some good news on the immediate horizon for the golf industry?

The short answer is no, not really.

In fact, he said during his address that only eight new golf courses were constructed in 2012 in North America. The period between 1980 and 2008, when the credit crisis ground growth in golf to a standstill, saw a whopping 9,000 new courses built on the continent.

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The good news is that the industry’s movers and shakers have realized what’s plaguing golf, and they’re on the same page about what needs to be done to turn things around.

Carrick said the game of golf needs to be cheaper to play, and a single round should be completed in much less time. These are recognized as the two major deterrents to attracting new interest in the sport.

Although many golfers have embraced the benefits of the advances in golf equipment technology in recent years—namely the ability to hit the ball much further because of a livelier ball and a more forgiving clubface—it has actually contributed to the expense of the game and the time needed to play it.

Carrick said new golf courses anymore require about 200 acres of land to develop, compared to about 150 a short while ago. This not only adds to the cost of building the course, which is passed on to the golfer, but the greater distances add a corresponding amount of time for a single round to be played.

A lot of noise has been made of late to tone down the technology for this very reason. Carrick is a proponent of walking and said that’s an element of the game which has become lost as well in several architects’ designs.

Perhaps for the future of golf we need to take a big step backward if we wish to move forward.