If you have not read Golf Digest’s Fun Issue (January 2011), we strongly suggest that you make a beeline for it. Below, we highlight two parts of the issue with which we completely agree. The central point is that golf should be fun.
In the Editor’s Letter from which I quote liberally below, Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest’s Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, tells a story about Henry Cotton. Cotton was a remarkable player. He won the Open Championship (British Open) three times from 1934 to 1948 as well as thirty-one other titles in Europe and the U.S.
Cotton worked very hard at his game sometimes practicing until his hands bled, but equally importantly, he knew how to have fun. He loved Champagne, caviar and tailored clothes. He traveled in a Rolls-Royce.
At the 1982 Open Championship, Cotton, then 75 years old, in answer to a question about how he was playing said “You know, the real fun of golf is putting for birdies. So at my age I start every hole by teeing up wherever it’s necessary, even if it’s in the fairway, so I can reach the greens in regulation and putt for birdies.”
We completely agree with this idea. Tarde goes on to say, “Fun is a theme for this whole issue, but I agree that the surest way to have it is the Cotton Formula—play from a set of tees where you can dependably putt for birdies.”
On page 90 of the same issue, there is a great and telling article, Living Large, by Ron Kaspriske. He starts the article with, “You know what’s fun? Making lots of pars. You know what else is fun? Having a birdie putt on a dozen holes.”
Kaspriske tells us he has a “13.6 Handicap Index, and, on a good day, can shoot in the low-to-mid-80s.” However, he, like most of us, is prone to a couple of disaster holes. So he began to wonder “Why am I beating myself up every time I play? There had to be a yardage I could tee it from that would allow me to break par.
When you think about it, the yardages we play are as arbitrary as making a golf course 18 holes instead of, say, 14.” He asks a very good question and makes an excellent point.
Long story short, he goes to the Pine Barrens course at World Woods Golf Club in Brooksville, Florida (a very good course, by the way) and experiments by playing ever shorter yardages, starting at the 5301 forward tees. Eventually he gets to a yardage of 4,792 (74 percent of the 6,458 yardage from the tees he would normally play). He shoots 70 with several birdies and an eagle.
The comments that we think are the most telling in the article are, “Stats aside, this was the first time I felt a round of golf was truly fun from start to finish.” After describing the awkwardness of “teeing up so far in front of my playing partners,“ he closes with “Nor did I care. I was going to play golf my way—and love every minute of it.”
When we owned Province Lake (pictured, left), we made sure golfers had fun by providing four sets of tees at a wide range of yardages. And we say, bravo to Golf Digest for these pieces. For a lot more on this subject, take a look at the Move On Up post on this site. It will tell you how to follow in Henry’s and Ron’s footsteps
–Arthur D. Little