bigger-holeThere is a movement afoot in the golf industry to increase the size of the hole and I am one of them, not for professional golf or even the top amateur events, but for those of us who just want to enjoy the game more. Gorman of course, who has seldom been a traditionalist, is horrified at this notion but what would you expect from somebody who seldom ever finishes a hole? We like to call him Tommy Pick Up.

You would think somebody so absurdly poor at putting (he’s used everything from a broom to a branding iron) would be leading the charge to enlarge the hole to the same circumference as the many bunkers he finds with his wayward shots. The rationale for increasing the hole size is strictly a pragmatic one for those in the golfing industry. The demographic is shrinking in size as more and more people are walking if not running away from the game.

Some of that is due to a still struggling economy, higher unemployment and under employment, but it is undeniable that people don’t want to spend five hours on a golf course. So a solution, since nothing seems to get people to play faster, could be increasing the hole size. That would result in more one putt greens and thus faster play. It would also lower scores for the hackers (Gorman and I included) and make us happier when we came bounding into the 19th hole. Hey, maybe we’d buy more libations. Some are calling for the hole to be widened from its current 4.25 inches (in diameter) to 15. That, to me, is ridiculous. It would be like that hole in the insurance commercial where Arnold Palmer taps in a two footer into a canyon sized cup.

But there is no reason in my mind why the size of the hole cannot be increased to 4.75 inches. Imagine all those lip outs that would now fall, all those putts that burn the edges that would drop in the side door. You would still need to putt reasonably well and if you did you wouldn’t feel like heaving your putter into the nearest pond after a great drive and superb approach shot, only to three jack from 10 feet. And the hole should have been enlarged many years ago when the size of the golf ball was increased.

The old English ball was 1.29 inches in diameter. The ball now used everywhere measures 1.68 inches across. Yet the size of the hole was never enlarged which makes no sense. When professional golfers began destroying the traditional golf courses because of technology and training, the architects began designing courses that were longer and more challenging. Why then was not the hole enlarged to accommodate a larger ball? The diameter of a regulation basketball hoop is 18 inches. Imagine if the size of the standard men’s ball was enlarged. Wouldn’t it make sense to make the hoop larger to accommodate the ball’s increase in size?

Traditionalists will argue against any change in the size of the hole and I certainly don’t want to see it increased dramatically, but if golf doesn’t continue to evolve it will die. We no longer play with gutta percha balls or hickory shafts. We shouldn’t be slaves to the size of the hole any longer. Golf is always trying to expand the game. Expanding the hole would help do just that.

Tim Geary is a RI based freelance writer. He’d find a way to double bogey a hole regardless of cup size!