Lee Westwood: Golf needs larger holes, a two-hour format and an image overhaul

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 6, 2015 11:49

Leading golfer Lee Westwood has said that the game of golf needs an urgent image revamp amid worrying data about participation trends.

Last week Golf Club Management revealed that England has lost more than 400,000 monthly golfers in the last seven years, and over 200,000 weekly golfers in that time.

Former world number one golfer Westwood, who has in the past been the recipient of the Golf Foundation’s ‘Spirit of Golf’ award for his work with young golfers, said that the game’s authorities are not doing enough to promote the game to a diverse audience.

In particular, he expressed concern at the lack of women that play the game in the UK, which has one of the worst ratios for female participation in the world.

“Golf is not doing enough and it needs to be promoted better,” he said.

“The R&A, the PGA and the European Tour need to do more to encourage women to take up the game. In Britain it’s a very poor percentage of women who play the game.”

He added that there are solutions to make golf more attractive: Make the sport quicker to play and make the hole cups larger.

“Golf needs to be faster and cheaper. It’s very expensive to join a golf club and there needs to be a shorter format of the game. Five hours on a Saturday or Sunday to be out the house is too long; there needs to be a two-hour format of the game. The holes need to be made bigger – the game is to difficult and that makes it less fun,” he said.

“Golf also needs to have the stigma that it’s for old men – toffs – taken away from it. I’m from a working class background and started playing on a municipal golf course – there needs to be more municipal courses.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir August 6, 2015 11:49
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  1. paul warner August 11, 14:46

    Golf needs to fully look at its self , despite how it seems in the majority of clubs it is still a men’s game that tolerates women and children.
    Still tide up with dress rules , golf committee’s, there is need to realise the changes in social requirements , wifes work , husbands have do far more of the household duties.
    We need to realise that one of the strength’s of golf it can be played by all ages from around 6 to 100 by all sexes , clubs need to push family memberships , Quick 9 hole formats, take control of council run clubs rather than them being running by charitable trusts.
    How many council courses have closed over the last ten years.
    Golf needs to wake up. Yes Lee is 100% correct he was brought up at a very forward thinking golf club Worksop who I know 50 years ago encouraged juniors , look how many golfers its produced from Maurice Bembridge, Lee Westwood to guys like Roy Mugglestone plus many who have represented Notts or just play the game.

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  2. James Stephenson August 7, 13:54

    I think the suggestion that the hole should be made bigger is laughable. Golf is suppose to be a game of skill. (some of us are more skilful than others). I remeber years ago the Americans suggesting we make the goal bigger in the game of soccer so there would be more goals. What’s the point?
    One of the biggest challenges facing golf is slow play. It is driving people away and clubs need to do more to speed up play. Too often club management turn a blind eye to slow play by green fee paying golfers because they want their money, and club members become frustrated at being held up by “golfers” who don’t know the rules and have never heard of etiquette.

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  3. Serving Secretary August 7, 11:18

    Totally agree with comments ref pace of play. Ok for the Pro’s to give off soundbites about the need to make golf take less time and then off they go for their ridiculously long round. Until they are penalised shots, not cash, week in, week out, nothing will change.
    It is so easy for the likes of Westwood, Woods, McIlroy to say make golf cheaper, let juniors play free etc….Have these guys ever run a facilty, been accountable for financial performance etc…I think not. Very easy to give other peoples money away. Some of the Pro’s have been very happy to accept members subsidising them through the golf union fees, when they were elite amateurs. If they become very rich as Pro’s they should be paying it back!
    I wonder if Mr Westwood is running his ‘Academies’ to make money or running them at very low cost, to make golf more affordable for the participants, make your own mind up on that one!

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  4. Barrie Hay August 7, 11:04

    There is already a 2 hour Format of the game its called playing Nine Holes, but this is discouraged by a lot of clubs..Slow play in my opinion has come into the amateur game from the Pros, i know there is a lot more at stake for the Pros, but if their games were speeded up the amateur game would follow. As regarding hole size i think this isnt a good thing, Golf should still be a game of skill needing constant improvement to master….
    If play speeded up , more golfers could get round a course per hour/day, and green fees could be cheaper than at present.

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  5. Plootocrat August 6, 15:57

    I agree with Lee Westwood’s general sentiments on this issue but I cannot agree that making the holes bigger would make golf more “fun” and I would also argue that the amount of time saved by so doing would be minimal – say 3 or 4 fewer tap-ins per player per round. Secondly, the best thing that LW and his fellow professionals could do would be to play a lot quicker themselves and set the right example on pace of play for young amateurs – bearing in mind that the pros never spend time searching for a lost ball, the fact that they regularly take over five hours to complete 18 holes is laughable.

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