Written by: Nick Winters
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Tiger Woods has made quite the impact on the golf industry. During Tiger’s reign in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, golf popularity increased exponentially. Golf became a sport for athletes, and kids everywhere were inspired to play golf at an early age, instead of other sports. New golf courses began popping up at an alarming rate, and making a tee time was a necessity to reserve your spot on the first tee. Business was booming, and golf suddenly became cool. However, there was another side-effect. Tiger & other PGA Tour Professionals were hitting the ball farther than ever, and golf equipment allowed these players to swing faster. “Tiger proofing” golf courses, making them much harder & longer, became the norm. Golf courses focused too much of their attention on the professionals, and not enough on the average golfer.
Your typical weekend player can’t hit the ball 250 yards, and struggles to hit the green in regulation when the hole is 450 yards away. Bunkers and water hazards line the fairways, and the out-of-bounds stakes seem only a few feet into the rough. Golf has become unnecessarily long and challenging, which can make the game more frustrating, difficult, and time consuming than it needs to be. The whole point of playing golf for recreation is to have fun, and developing shorter golf courses helps to emphasize that. Here are 6 benefits of playing on a short golf course.
1. Not Everybody Hits the Ball a Mile
As I’ve already said, golf courses have become increasingly long in design. That may make professional golf events more interesting by adding challenge, but the only thing this accomplishes for the average golfer is that we now have to hit the ball more often to get the ball to the hole. The longest hole on the original 9 at Fairfield Hills is only 320 yards, and the longest hole on the new 3 holes (opening later this year) is only 400 yards, which also happens to be a par 5. Nobody wants to hit the ball ten times just to get to the green. If you find the golf course is too long for you, moving up to a shorter tee box can also be beneficial.
2. Make Better Scores
Building on the previous point, shorter golf holes create better scores. Hitting the ball more often simply increases your chances of hitting a poor shot, that may go in the water or out-of-bounds. Thus, fewer shots will only lead to even fewer shots (if that makes sense). Not only that, but it just feels much better to write down a 5 on the scorecard as opposed to an 8, no matter what par is.
3. The Course is Your Practice Arena
Short golf courses create perfect environments to develop your golf skills with irons and around the greens. Since you won’t have to hit the ball as far to get to the green, you’ll be using higher lofted clubs, like an 8 or 9 iron. Practicing with these clubs helps the player gain confidence with the other irons as well. Also, these clubs provide greater accuracy than the likes of a 3 iron or Driver. Even if the player hits a poor shot, the ball will still wind up somewhere around the green as opposed to in the woods or in an awkward situation. This provides great chipping & putting practice!
4. Shorter Time to Play
The longer the golf course, the more shots that have to be hit to get the ball in the hole. The more shots that are hit, the greater the odds of poor shots or penalty strokes. More shots and especially more penalties add a significant amount of time to the round. Not to mention the fact that it just flat out takes more time to traverse a long golf course, whether walking or riding. Add in the time it takes to get from green to the next tee, and your afternoon is gone. Shorter, compact golf courses require a much shorter time commitment, allowing players to fit golf more easily into their schedule. Fairfield Hills’ original 9-hole golf course only takes about an hour and 45 minutes to play, and our 3 new holes (opening later this summer) should only take about 45 minutes to walk. Plenty of time left in the day to catch that afternoon matinee!
5. More Beginner & Junior Friendly
Long, difficult golf courses that require a long time commitment can really be a major turn-off with beginners. People are becoming more & more conscious of the way they spend their time, and with more distractions than ever, it’s crucial for golf to remain inviting. An everlasting goal for the golf industry is to continue to attract new players to the game, and one of the best ways to do that is to pack the most amount of fun & value as possible into a short, compact time frame. Shorter golf courses are good at this.
And, for all of the reasons mentioned in the last few paragraphs, short courses benefit junior golfers. Time spent on the course is valuable for juniors, but too much can get boring and tiresome. Longer holes add more shots, and more bad shots, which can frustrate young players. Junior golfers are vital for golf’s continued growth, and we need to make golf more accessible and entertaining than ever.
6. IT’S MORE FUN!!
Would you rather be 200 yards away from the green on your 2nd shot, or 120 yards away??! I’m not sure what your thoughts are, but I prefer birdie putts!
Sure, there have been huge improvements in golf equipment that allow the average player to hit the ball much farther. But, these improvements don’t come close to making up for insanely long and challenging golf courses. Shorter golf courses allow players to score better, save time, and develop their golf skills in a much more fun environment. Short courses still provide plenty of challenge, but don’t require the player to hit the ball excessively far like a PGA Tour player. Because of this, courses like Fairfield Hills provide the perfect place to learn for beginners and juniors, without too large of a time commitment. Continued growth in the golf industry will be contingent upon placing a priority on customer time and enjoyment.