Jack Nicklaus: There has to be alternatives to 18 holes

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 13, 2016 12:41

Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus has said shorter versions of the game, flexibility in golf ball design and music on the course will help the game’s participation decline.

In the UK and USA golf has seen a fall in participation in the last 20 years, and golf clubs have seen a drop in members. As the 18 Majors winner Nicklaus acknowledged, this has led to an inevitable result.

“More golf courses have closed in the US in each of the last 10 years than have opened,” he told the 2016 HSBC Golf Business Forum at the Marriott Sawgrass Resort and Spa.


“We should continue to look at changing formats. We’ve done 12-hole events, and the feedback among women, beginners, juniors and seniors is that they loved it. If something as simple as that can bring people into the game and keep them, which is important, we have got to get serious about doing anything out of the box or unconventional.”

One unconventional practice could be to allow music on the course – a call echoed by Greg Norman, who recently said buggies should have loud speakers that can play music.

“I never liked the silence,” said Nicklaus. “The world is changing and we need to change with the world. I am a traditionalist, and I like to see golf be golf, but adding to things is good. If there is music on the range or on the first tee, the players will get used to it. You might just tell the players to get out there and play!”

Nicklaus also said that the design of the golf ball should be more flexible to bring more players into the game.

“Courses have had to change in great part due to changes in the golf ball and the distance it travels,” he said. “It’s now a slower game and more expensive than before, and that can’t be a good thing. I think we need to develop a golf ball to suit the golf course, rather than build courses to suit a golf ball. Whether it’s a ball that goes 50, 75 or 100 per cent, you play a ball that fits the course and your game.

“It’s not that big a deal. We used to do it when travelling to play the Open and switching from the large ball to the small. It took us only a day to get used to a different ball. But when land is a dear commodity and water is scarce, you need to do something to respond to today’s situation. We don’t want to change the game for the core golfer, but we need to make every effort to offer alternatives to bring more people into the game and keep them in the game.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir December 13, 2016 12:41
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