Giant holes ‘would save golf’ says master greenkeeper

Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim May 13, 2015 10:16

One of the most respected golf course consultants in the world has become the latest high profile figure to state that increasing the size of hole cups in golf would be hugely beneficial to the game.

Laurence Pithie, Europe’s first ‘Master Greenkeeper’, who sits on Greenkeeping magazine’s distinguished editorial advisory panel, has said increasing the size of the holes would attract more golfers and be better for the environment.

“Golf is not as popular as it once was and there needs to be a viable alternative,” he said. “Making golf more fun, more affordable and taking up less time to play has to be the key objectives. A relatively simple option and one that has been mentioned in the past is to increase the size of the golf hole to around eight inches (200mm). This idea is not aimed at replacing the existing hole size on established full length courses, but it could be introduced on ‘entry level’ nine-hole or short-hole courses.”

Pithie listed the benefits that would be gained from increasing the size of the hole – these include faster play, better scores and less fertiliser input on greens.

“By introducing a larger hole size, the following benefits would be gained:

  • The game would be less difficult
  • There would be less emphasis on putting and more on general play
  • You would be more likely to chip or putt-in from the edge of the green
  • More single putts
  • Less likely to three putt
  • Downhill putts would be less intimidating
  • Holing longer putts adds to the excitement
  • Golf would be more fun to play
  • Faster play – a saving of two to three minutes per green, per fourball which equals 18 to 27 minutes per nine holes
  • A three foot putt becomes a ‘gimme’
  • Less putts will lead to fewer issues with greens’ quality and performance
  • The height of cut can be increased to 6mm, which leads to more options of grass species
  • Less turf stress equals lower inputs and healthier turf
  • Reduced need for water, fertilisers and chemicals
  • Less risk of thatch, disease, dry patch, moss, algae, nematodes and so on
  • Reduced need in hole changing frequency
  • Lower requirement for cultural practices, therefore possible savings in some equipment
  • Lower level of maintenance equals lower costs
  • Lower fuel requirements due to lower mechanical inputs
  • Lower amounts of sand dressings required
  • The ability to develop grasses with lower input requirements.”

Laurence Pithie also said that increasing the size of the hole would be in keeping with golf’s links with tradition, as it used to be common for greens to incorporate ‘giant holes’.

“Interestingly, the size of the golf hole at 4.25 inches was only determined by The R&A in 1894; over 30 years after the first Open Championship was contested on Prestwick links. Prior to then, holes were of no pre-determined size and could even vary within the same course,” he said.

Previous high profile figures to express their support for increasing the size of holes include Ted Bishop, the former president of the PGA of America, Mark King, CEO of TaylorMade-adidas Golf, course architect Jonathan Gaunt and golfers Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose.


Rosemary Ayim
By Rosemary Ayim May 13, 2015 10:16
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  1. Paul Gilbert March 10, 12:24

    Really Radical.
    Like making goalposts wider in football.
    GOLF. It’s not supposed to be a walkover.

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  2. ronald ross July 15, 09:58

    Oh please no! The real answer is to learn how to play golf the way it used to be played i.e. with a snap. The game would then be more fun with the hole size as it is. Of course putting would still remain an Art.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Bob Braban May 18, 23:05

    Perhaps a few specialist 9-hole venues might just see some benefit from introducing this type of hole and some courses with an additional 9 holes might trial it. However, if the standard golf club introduced it, the members would flood out faster than the spring tide. There are many more simple measures that can be tried first. Treating members and visitors with more respect would be a very good place to start. There are still far too many clubs acting as if they believe “we are doing you a favour letting you play here”!
    Bob Braban

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  4. pensioner pete May 14, 17:00

    Not surprised Sergio & Justin would like the hole to be bigger (not the worlds greatest putters:-()

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  5. pensioner pete May 14, 16:59

    Larger cup used by quite a few courses on winter greens, but I haven’t noticed a rush of enthusiasts to get their winter woolies on and play. I always liked them because it was the only time I could get round in below par.
    Wasn’t there an April Fool this year with Beckham, Roy Hodgson et al, advocating the widening of the goals because of the number of shots that hit the post?

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