What might golf be like in 2024? With that in mind, let’s first discuss briefly the playability of American courses today. It’s my opinion, just two words describe them: “horrendously difficult.”
What also becomes very clear is that most of our courses today can be defined as one dimensional; that is, a feat of terror, requiring players to power the ball down yards of intimidating narrow and constricting corridors, hardened by penal rough, overpopulated sand bunkers and water hazards girding fairways and greens. All of this can smother one’s pre-game expectations of playing well and having 18 holes of fun diminished, and for many to even quit playing. In fact, the National Golf Foundation (NGF) recently reported that approximately 5 million players in the last decade quit for various reasons. Two of those were because courses are too difficult and too time consuming to play.
Further, one could say, because of the difficulty of playing American courses today the average handicapper is defeated even before teeing off. The theme for today’s world of golfdom designers and architects needs to be more in terms of practicality, shorter, less penal, faster, less time consuming, friendly and most importantly, fun to play.
So, with that in mind, here are 10 of my out-of-the box perceptions of what golf might be like in the year 2024:
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1. Course design trends will be reset away from diabolically long and difficult. Instead, they will be simplified for friendly playability and fun to play.
2. There will be no tee boxes situated requiring 200 yard drives over water hazards, environmental hazards, or wasteland before the ball touches down safely onto fairway.
3. There will be forward gold tee markers for those 65 years of age and older, set approximately 10 yards ahead of the red tees. Tee markers will not be named by gender. Instead they will be called blue tees (championship), white (regular), red (women), and gold (65 and older).
4. Ten (10) minute tee-time intervals will be standard, which will significantly help to assure that the ugly head of slow play doesn’t rear itself.
5. Courses will have a more clean look, thereby promoting efficacious player anticipation to play.
6. We will witness the passing of a USGA — R & A rule, which will maximize a ball distance roll-back of 10 yards. They will also establish more effective restrictions to protect the game from the over zealous modern equipment technology of today, which is pushing the very limits of the LJSGA rules by manufacturing companies.
7. On the PGA professional golf scene, there will be an accelerated growth of global winning among international players, quickly surpassing years of traditional American supremacy.
8. We will see significantly more accessible greens for run-up shot selections from various distances, and angles Scottish style on the ground.
9. And for the game’s “time crunchers” delight, there will be more executive style par 3 courses. Holes will vary from 50 yards to challenging 200 yard holes. And many 18-hole courses will be converted into par 3 layouts.
10. Myrtle Beach, city-owned and operated Whispering Pines Golf Course will be sold to Chinese developers, who convert it into an upscale Executive par 3, 18-hole course.
My final thought: There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever that golf will continue nationally as one of our most popular recreational leisure time individual sports to play. However, we will also witness other course closings due to supply and demand.
The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.