A lot of GNN readers might be familiar with Michael Schurman, either through comments on this site or because he’s a Canadian PGA Master Professional and Life Member with some good insights into the golf industry, judging from my own conversations with him on the phone or via e-mail.
Recently, he left a comment in which he wondered out loud if golf was inadvertently turning people away from the game by making courses too difficult for the average player. He went as far as suggesting that the industry start a “Stimp 9.5” campaign to slow down green speeds.
Schurman has kindly put his thoughts down on paper and his complete letter is below. Have a read:
If a person was truly interested in helping golf (course superintendents, general managers, golf professionals, course architects, green chair-persons, golf administrators/associations and course owners, in particular) improve the game, they’d put an end to idiotic, unplayable designed greens and the ridiculous pursuit of stimp readings of 12 to 13.
While architects (possibly ordered by new course owners) build courses that take inordinate amounts of time to play by the average player because they are too difficult; superintendents (possibly ordered by their new course owner) constantly try to attain high “stimp” readings. Both of these factors contribute to a low level of enjoyment by the average player due to high scores, high costs which lead to high green fees and extraordinary lengths of playing time. All of these are causing golfers to play less golf!
When will people of influence wake up and realize that there should be a uniform standard of 9.0 to 10.0 stimp reading? Let the PGA Tour do what they want! Let the top players putt off the greens at Augusta and in the U.S. Open but let the average player putt greens that are within his/her ability.
Time to play would be reduced because the number of putts would be fewer. Maintenance costs would be less because greens would easier to keep and greens fees could be lowered as a result. Who knows, golfers might even play more because they are having fun shooting lower scores.
Let’s start an undertaking to “stop doing what we are doing and start producing courses and conditions people can enjoy.”
Let’s stop convincing potential new course owners to spent $20-million to $30-million to build unplayable courses that cannot generate enough rounds at a reasonable green fee rate to pay for the maintenance costs when added to the financing/interest/ROI costs.
Let’s inform the ego-maniacs who place the hole locations on ‘hog-backs’ immediately behind bunkers or tight to a water hazard on ‘blind’ fairway shots that this is stupid and NOT FUN!
Over the past few years, the number of new golfers has decreased – why do you think this is?
It’s because golf is no longer fun to play. It costs too much! It takes too long to play and course owners have marshals driving around the course yelling at you because the players in every group are taking a total of 10 or 11 putts on every green. That’s on top of the five or six shots taken trying to ‘pitch’ over cavernous bunkers onto enormous, sloping greens.
What’s wrong with having someone “have a nice day” or having a course record of 63 or 64? Why can’t the average player leave your course having shot a satisfying score? Why does your “blue tee course” have to measure 7300 yards – what’s wrong with 6800?
Sure, there’s money to be made by building a housing development around a golf course. Why not try building a course for $5-million surrounded by 400 homes selling for $300,000, instead of a $30-million course surrounded 200 homes selling for $750,000?
Who knows? You might even sell out quickly and make some money. Believe or not, all golfers are not filthy rich, but will pay reasonable fees and buy reasonably priced homes
Lighten up folks. Make a course that is pretty, acceptably-conditioned and pleasant to play with some challenge and lots of variety but ENJOYABLE!
Sell a green fee for $40 ($50 on weekends) and carts for $14. Generate 30,000 rounds per year; produce $1,750.000. to $2,000,000, take home $250,000 before personal taxes and after your mortgage payment, actually make a profit (in spite of what you’ve been told by grandiose, self interested parties) and be happy along with your patrons!
IF you build what they want, they WILL come!
So what do you think of Michael Schurman’s comments? Personally, I think he makes some very legitimate points about golf, at least in many cases, giving in to ego instead of using common sense.
While a lot of the damage has already been done with the number of “super courses” that have gone in over the past 20 years, course conditioning and the easing up of stimp readings and thickness of rough can go a long way in increasing the enjoyment level for most golfers.
So what do you think? Michael has graciously agreed to allow me to use his letter as a basis for this week’s GNN Poll.
Does golf in general make courses too difficult and time-consuming for the average golfer?
- YES (91%)
- NO (9%)
Let’s discuss this as an industry-wide topic as opposed to specific golf courses although his comments may be food for thought for many of us in the golf industry. Of course, you can expand your thoughts in the Comments box below this blog. What do you think about Schurman’s “Stimp 9.5” campaign?
This topic has plenty of potential for discussion, so let’s hear your thoughts now.