Keep it short?

October 4, 2013

The folks who want the game of golf to flourish have a keen sense of the challenges facing their favorite sport.

The ongoing recession and glacially slow economic recovery are no help, of course. It is also hard to deny that some of golf’s excesses of the recent past continue to haunt those of us who love the game.

I have driven to Baltimore and D.C. for my regular work on several occasions this summer and fall. On each occasion I went past the still-closed Upland Golf Course near Denton, Md.

In some respects this now-shuttered public golf layout is typical of the boom-and-bust cycle that affected golf course construction in the United States over the last 20 years.

It opened in 2002 as a daily fee course, spread out on just over 219 acres of rolling countryside - just in time to take advantage of all those golf-loving people rushing to retire to the Eastern Shore.

Until they didn’t.

The scale of new golf courses also puts a strain on their economic viability. It’s all well and good to buy enough acreage to build a 7,200-yard course. What’s missing from that equation is the recognition that very, very few golfers have the talent to play from the back tees.

The United States Golf Association and the PGA have promoted their Tee It Forward Program to convince golfers to play from the shorter tees.

Part of this program is aimed at keeping the game more fun and less daunting. The other, less publicized point to Tee It Forward is to convince golf course owners that they can cut back on the maintenance burden of keeping those way-back tees in shape, and reduce their long-term costs as a result.

Recently, the USGA stepped up the campaign to urge golfers to enjoy playing shorter courses. A piece at the organization’s website suggests that golf course operators should add a few inexpensive elements to their courses.

Special plaques can be installed at about 55 to 60 percent of the most forward tee markers, to create a special short course.

The USGA believes that “a short course … is better aligned with driving distances of youth golfers and those new to the game. Creating a short course could also be ideal for shorter hitters and may even bring them back to the game if they have left because they don’t hit the ball far enough to play from the forward tees.”

The organization suggests that golf course operators could devise a fun short course of between 2,500 and 3,500 yards. Once officially installed, the state golf association can give the new set of tees their own course rating.

The USGA also believes, “The short course can also serve as a par-3 course for better players. Doing so allows golf facilities to host par-3 tournaments and special events that may draw more interest from the golfing community.”

It’s certainly an idea well worth considering. During the winter months, Cape Region golfers might actually enjoy taking part in an experiment or two on the local courses.

Local club competition results

The Kings Creek Country Club Ladies 9-hole group played Sept. 23 in a team-based event.

Susie Shevock, Evelyn Vanderloo, and Nathalie McGregor combined for first place, while Susan Spence and Carolyn Shriver earned the team second spot.

The Kings Creek 9-holers then played an individual-based format Sept. 30. Susan Spence won first place, with Kathy Nave taking second and Sally Horvath finishing in third.

Noreen Buzerak won the closest to the pin contest for the day.

The Kings Creek Country Club 18 Hole Ladies Golf League played a Single Best Ball Net tournament Sept. 26.

Ana Dittel, Sherry Pié, and Joanne Yurik won first-place honors. The team of Julie Dickson, Kathy Casey, and Betsy Alwood came in second. Third place went to the threesome of Vicki Tull, Barbara Wisneski, and Pattie Magee.

Tull was also closest to the pin on the 11th hole, with a shot that finished 23-feet-four-inches away from ace-ville.

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