Can redesigned courses stoke new interest in golf?

A round of golf can be a major athletic, technical endeavor. That's great for the pros but not for weekend warriors.
Written by Mary Catherine O'Connor, Contributing Writer

Interest in the sport of golf has stagnated. It's not because Tiger Woods' infidelities have permanently soured players to the game. It's because golf is just too darn hard, according to a recent news story from the Associated Press.

Designer golf courses, created by celebrity golf pros, have been all the rage for years. But they've been slowing boxing out the recreational golfer, for whom the courses are too long and technical and the price of entry is too high. This is reflected in numbers showing that participation rates in the sport -- which is also a $43 billion industry -- falling fast.

To stop the bleeding, course designers are listening to the complaints of weekend golfers who want courses with fewer obstacles between the tee and the hole. Not only are the high-end courses too difficult and costly for recreational players, they also eat up many hours of time to complete.

The AP points to Rope Rider, a new course at Suncadia Resort near the town of Roslyn in eastern Washington, as an example of the new school of courses. Its designers, Jim Hardy and Peter Jacobsen constructed the course to be accessible to all manner of golfer. The story notes:

Bunkers were built to be easily escaped, and all holes feature designs around the hole that give players an opening to run the ball up onto the green.

There is also a significant nod toward junior golfers, with tees placed 90 to 150 yards out for youngsters learning the game and routing for three- and six-hole options for youngsters who could grow bored with 9 or 18 holes.

The golf industry hopes these designs can get recreational golfers teeing up again, and maybe with their kids in tow.

Via: New York Times

Image: Jim Champion

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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