TIME

Can ‘Soccer Golf’ Save Regular Golf?

PGA Tour golfer Sergio Garcia putts during TaylorMade's 15-inch-cup event at the Oconee Golf Club at Reynolds Plantation on Monday, April 14, 2014 in Greensboro, Ga.
PGA Tour golfer Sergio Garcia putts during TaylorMade's 15-inch-cup event at the Oconee Golf Club at Reynolds Plantation on Monday, April 14, 2014 in Greensboro, Ga. Paul Abell—AP for HACK Golf

Golf courses are experimenting with new rules and offshoots in an effort to keep people engaged, like introducing soccer balls and 15-inch holes, reports the New York Times

Golf advocates are desperately coming up with new tricks and gimmicks to combat dwindling engagement with the sport, including enlarging golf holes to the size of pizzas and introducing soccer balls to the game.

Golf has lost five million players in the last decade and 20 percent of the remaining 25 million golfers are likely to quit in the next few years, according to the National Golf Foundation. The major complaints include the difficulty of the game and the tiresome array of rules.

At golf courses around the country, however, new measures are being considered to keep young people interested, the New York Times reports.

Some new rules introduced allow a mulligan, or do-over at each hole, and increasing the size of the hole, like the 15-inch-hole event introduced at the Reynolds Plantation resort in Georgia. Another alternative is a kind of cross between soccer and golf, which includes kicking the ball to the hole instead of using a club.

The changes come despite calls by purists to maintain the longstanding rules of the game.

“A nonconforming club or ball does not corrupt the game,” Mr. Miller said. “Not if it encourages people to try a very intimidating game. That will be beneficial to golf for 50 years.”

[NYT]

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