Even a few tennis clubs have miniature courts to get aspiring players started.
Aside from par-3 courses, golf has never seemed to offer much in terms of giving upstarts a more enjoyable experience.
Legacy Golf Links, an executive course, worked outside the box to come up with a solution.
The club added a second hole on every green that’s the size of a salad bowl — approximately 8 inches wide — and marked by a yellow checkered flag. The larger holes sit roughly 20 feet away from where the standard 4¼-inch-wide cup is laid.
Other course adjustments include two tee boxes at each hole, as opposed to three.
“There’s no doubt the statistics show — and this is gathered by the PGA of America — in the last number of years, there are more people exiting the game of golf,” said Al Morrison, the general manager at Legacy. “We want to do our little part to reverse that, and doing something a little different like this will allow people to come and enjoy the game without having the pressure of seeing the success on a more difficult field.”
Golfers who prefer not to break from tradition can continue playing with the normal pins.
With the new setup, twosomes who are at different levels can take advantage by using different tee boxes and different cups while playing the same course. But Morrison said he’s heard tales of golfers coming up with unique ways of enjoying a round with different size holes on each green.
There have been foursomes who have played nine holes using the regular holes and the other nine using by aiming for the larger hole. Some golfers got really creative by using a points system instead of strokes — four points for a birdie in the regular hole and three points for a birdie in the 8-inch hole.
And there was also a story of a group that played both pins at the same hole. Golfers would mark the exact spot they first hit the green, play both holes and combined the number of strokes.
“I don’t know if I would push that to the public because it would slow down play,” Morrison said, “but it gives you an idea what people are doing to come up with their own game.”
The Junior Academy at Legacy Links seems to be in favor of the additional hole for mostly putting purposes. Some students admitted the oversized hole is just as challenging, while others got overly confident.
But whenever the checkered flag rattles after making a long putt or chip shot, 9-year-old Patrick Reaves said it brings a smile to his face.
“It helps youth players get better at putting,” 13-year-old Cannon Mansell added. “I thought it would be just an easy way to get a hole-in-one, but it’s actually a lot harder than I thought. I thought the (8-inch cups) were a lot larger, and as I got near it, it’s not terribly large. But it helps my putting.”
Added teaching professional J.R. Ross: “It doesn’t change their thoughts on the tee, but once they hit off the tee, and the ball goes near the hole, they think it’s going in. That’s what makes the game easier.”