Our game is in a bit of a jam.  The number of rounds played has been declining.  The anticipated Boomer golf Boom never ignited.  And folks, I just don’t see Tiger’s return to the tour as being any sort of salvation.  So here are some suggestions for boosting golf’s popularity.

PAY ONLY FOR WHAT YOU PLAY:

One of the great advantages of belonging to a private club isn’t so much unlimited golf but rather the ability to play as little as you want on any given occasion.  But public courses have all the flexibility of a stuffy French restaurant when it comes to pricing:  Here are our rates for 18 (maybe 9 at some places).  Take it or leave it.  Why not use transponders like we use for paying tolls and set up courses so that you could zip out and play 5 or 7 or 11 holes some evening on the way home from work and pay based on a fee per hole?

GO FOR THE IRONIC MARKET

Have you seen how the new breed of hipsters dress?  With the straw Fedoras and retro shirts they look like guys coming off the course in 1958.  Have Ironic Golf nights.  I mean if you have the wardrobe you’re halfway there. (I should probably point out that one of my sons has told me that hipsters don’t like being called ‘hipsters’.  So in order not to give offense we should be careful to refer to them correctly, or as Hipster-Americans.)

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM….

Remaking the image of the game is going to be a challenge as long as the sport’s main advertising sponsors are Cialis and Viagra.   And the new wave of anti-gout medication ads on Golf Channel are definitely NOT the answer.  But let’s face it, it’s going to be tough to replace that money so we might as well make the best of it.  Let’s follow the lead of baseball broadcasting where sponsors have these cute little tie-ins to events in the game; e.g. when there’s a pitching change the announcer says”When It’s Time For A Change Think Speedee Oil Change”.  For us it’s pretty obvious.  It’s going to be “And that’s the Cialis Up and Down of the Day” and “Here’s the Viagra Long and Straight Drive of the Day”.

BIGGER HOLES:

First off, calm down.  Here’s how it works. First off this is done only on selected courses.  Like ones that are really desperate for new business.  Second the holes don’t stay enlarged.  It’s like Sudoku in the newspaper: the challenge gets progressively harder through the week until by Friday they’re at regulation size, just in time for the weekend.

I’m not sure what the introductory size should be.  Maybe something on the order of a salad plate.  What a great way to get people started with golfing!  It’s so much easier for them to get the great feeling of sinking putts right from the start.  Over time they advance through the week until (cue evil laugh) they’re hooked and their fragile self-esteem now depends on doing something that everybody who plays the game finds impossible at some point (re-cue evil laugh).

FULL CONTACT COMPETITIVE SPEED GOLF:

Want to get the kids into the game?  Want a little of that X-Games mojo for a sport whose main advertising sponsors are financial planners and boner pills?  Let’s take a look at speed golf with a little added spice.

As in regular speed golf, the score is the combination of time and strokes.  In this version you’d have a shotgun start and this would an event for foursomes.  Your team would not be able to tee off on the next hole until your last player has holed out.  As a result things are going to be very interesting around the greens.  At first I thought about proposing all sorts of elaborate rules about how you could play through a group in front of you without putting anybody at risk but then I realized that was precisely the point.  That’s how you get the ratings up.  Fire away!  Now you would have to have rules prohibiting the intentional drilling of somebody.  In other words, aiming at somebody and hitting them would mean  an automatic DQ.  But other than that, just strap on your helmet and get out there.

This is going to look a lot like those team competitions in “Survivor”.  In fact let’s see if we can’t get that Jeff dude to be the play by play announcer.  He’s only working about 80 days a year right now.

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