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golfteeBy: Brian Neufeld, GolfTourney.com Contributor

For most of the decade, golf participation was trending downward. That changed in 2018 when golf participation rose for the first time in 14 years. While most of us love golf, we should all be in agreement that there’s room for improvement to help grow the sport’s popularity. Here we’ll look at some ideas to capitalize on 2018’s growth and continue it through the next decade.

Eliminate Slow Play

If there’s one topic that dominated golf this past season, slow play would be tops on the list. Most young people can’t fathom spending four-plus hours playing one round of golf, and can you blame them? Some larger tournaments can take up to six hours to complete a round. While the PGA’s Play Nine initiative has helped people squeeze golf into uncommon time slots, a lot can be done on the course to help speed up rounds. Playing “ready golf” is the best way to pick up the pace and should be the standard in all non-tournament rounds.

Belly Putters for Amateurs

Anchoring a long putter was banned in 2016 and it impacted more players than Adam Scott and Keegan Bradley. For your average senior league player, there is no reason why this technique should be off-limits. Bringing back belly putters for non-tournament rounds would not only increase pace of play but makes the game more enjoyable for those of us that struggle on the greens.

Broadening Horizons

In August of 2019, Steph Curry made a seven-figure donation to Howard University to help bolster the golf teams at the historically black university. This incredible gesture helped expand access to golf for a large segment of the population. In the next decade, more access to courses and equipment for underserved groups will only help grow the game of golf and solidify the next generation of golfers.

Keep Thinning the Rulebook

2019 also saw a massive change to golf’s rulebook. We covered a few highlights here, but the changes were broad and helped simplify the game for a large segment of the population. That’s not to say there isn’t more work to be done. Golf has a stigma of being extremely nuanced and complicated, and continuing to thin out the rulebook will help bring in more players that were previously intimidated by the vast amount of rules.

The game of golf has a lot going for it. These are just a few ways to expand the sport, and there are literally hundreds more that should be considered  As courses continue to struggle and even close around the country, it’s important to be forward-thinking and aware of golf’s image within the general population. While etiquette is a huge part of golf, it should also be fun.  With a few tweaks here and there, we can continue 2018’s upward participation momentum and continue to grow the sport.

About the Author: Brian Neufeld

Brian Neufeld’s background includes more than 15 years of experience in golf course management, specializing in agronomy. Brian uses his knowledge of the game and best practices in turf sustention to create informative pieces for GolfTourney.com’s readers.

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Share this!

By: Brian Neufeld, GolfTourney.com Contributor

In 2019, the USGA implemented a moderate amount of new rules for golf with a focus on improving the pace of play. While most charity or fundraising tournaments are played in a more relaxed manner and often under special rules, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest rule changes in case you find yourself in a more serious event. Many of golf’s new rules are favorable to the golfer, and we’ll cover a few of those here, as well as one not so helpful.

The most talked about rule change in golf this year is the ability to leave the flagstick in the cup while putting. Whether putting with the pin in is beneficial or not is sure to be debated for years to come. Many of us solo golfers have been putting with the pin in forever. However you feel about it, it’s bound to speed up rounds, and can’t hurt if you really like to power your putts to the hole.

One of the most underrated rule changes is ball drops no longer occur from shoulder height and can now be dropped from the knee. While this may seem like no big deal to some, I’m sure there are many others out there who have experienced horrible bounces from those high altitude ball drops. Especially for the taller golfer, this reduced drop height is sure to come in handy.

Speaking of dropping a new ball, one rule that is sure to hurt a lot of golfers is the reduced time to search for a lost ball. The old standard of five minutes has now been reduced to three. This is a big push to increase the speed of rounds but will undoubtedly increase scores for a large portion of the golfing population. May I suggest iron off the tee?

Another infraction off the rule book is grounding your club in a penalty area. This was a rule a lot of casual golfers are unaware of and one that could be interpreted maliciously with the wrong playing partner. You are also allowed to move loose impediments and touch the ground in penalty areas, so play from those areas will be fairer to the golfer.

These rule changes in golf will promote a more relaxed, casual feel to the average round. Tournament play should be impacted positively overall, with faster round times leading to a greater interest in the sport. Next time you’re out on the course, be sure to keep these changes in mind and use them to your advantage.

About the Author: Brian Neufeld

Brian Neufeld’s background includes more than 15 years of experience in golf course management, specializing in agronomy. Brian uses his knowledge of the game and best practices in turf sustention to create informative pieces for GolfTourney.com’s readers.

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