In case you don’t follow any golf-related people on Twitter, allow me to tell you this week the PGA held its annual merchandise extravaganza down in Florida. Featuring over 1,000 exhibitors crammed into the Orlando Convention Center, it’s a cornucopia of everything and anything you could ever imagine related to the game. Many exhibitors use the show to unveil their latest and greatest products, producing a certain level of buzz around equipment, gizmos, or gadgets.
This year, however, perhaps the biggest buzz was created by Mark King, outspoken TaylorMade CEO, as he publicly outlined company-sponsored initiatives designed to grow interest in the game. As James Achenbach details in his Golfweek.com article, “King: Bigger Cup, Larger Ball Can Grow Golf,” the specifics of these initiatives involve enlarging the cup, enlarging the ball, and providing people oversized equipment with which to whack said big balls.
How big does King propose the cup be made? Achenbach notes in his article the plan is for:
“a 15-inch cup. The normal cup is 4.25 inches in diameter, so the 15-inch version tends to look like a wash tub to most players.”
Achenbach describes King’s dystopia idea further saying people would use:
“a new ball and new clubs invented by TaylorMade engineers. The ball is oversized, and so are the clubheads (the set includes only four clubs, one of them a putter).”
Where would people play this version of ‘golf?’ Achenbach writes,
“King said about a dozen courses are poised to immediately install the larger cups. Many more courses, and golf-course management companies, have expressed interest.
The plan at this point is to cut two cups on every green: standard and oversized.”
Alright, let me jump in here.
I would appreciate TaylorMade’s efforts to “grow the game” if I didn’t believe they were just completely transparent attempts to drive sales. I get it, though. King’s the CEO of a public company (subsidiary of a public-company to be exact), and public companies have numbers to meet. But damn, what he’s proposing isn’t golf, it’s a mutant, bastardized version of the grand game. Baseball played with oversized balls and oversized equipment isn’t baseball, it’s freaking softball.
Really, and at the risk of proselytizing like some morally-superior schwaldo, I think this idea only gets past the ‘Horrendous Idea by Overwrought Focus Group’ stage because we as a society have a heightened need for instant gratification. It’s endemic of the way things are; people have too many distractions, too much rushing around to do. We’re all on the move all the time, if only in our own minds. We don’t have the desire to hone a craft. We don’t have the patience to build requisite skills. We want things distilled down for easier, faster consumption. We want to play golf well without having to struggle to play golf well.
Successful companies are successful for a reason, though. Namely, they market and deliver what people want. So I’m terrified that people actually want this.
And if people do want this and it’s actually going to be a thing, dear God, please don’t bring this freak show to actual courses. Raise up a Big-Top and run this circus far away from golf sanctuaries. The last thing I need is to be grinding over my birdie double-bogey putt and worrying about how I’m going to circumnavigate a f*ing bathtub-sized crater in front of me because some jolly dipshit got snookered by the merry hucksters of ‘Corporate Golf’ to bat around an overstuffed ball with humongous freaking clubs for a few hours and pretend they’re golfing.
Golf is the continual reach for perfection, knowing it’s not attainable, but savoring the winding journey nonetheless. (You bet that’s a life metaphor!). Leave the damn game alone. And get off my damn lawn.