TaylorMade 15-inch cup event at Pauma Valley Country Club. Photo Credit: Bernie D'Amato-FanSided.com.

Growing the game of golf with the 15-inch cup

The above picture doesn’t do it justice.  Increasing the cup size from 4 ¼ inches to 15 inches is a huge development in the golfing world that will help make the game more enjoyable for recreational golfers.  I had the privilege of playing in the first 15-inch cup event hosted by TaylorMade CEO Mark King at Pauma Valley Country Club, and I had a great time trying to make shots from around the green and down the fairway.

You don’t need to convince me that golf is the greatest game, but others may need a gentle nudge, and the 15-inch cup is one of the best ideas to get more people on the links in the coming years.

Why increase the cup size? 

Participation in golf is down, and it is possible that the difficulty of the game discourages would be recreational golfers.  If you want to be a good golfer, then you must practice several hours a week.  Once you learn how to hit the ball fairly straight and understand how to manage your misses, the only way to score is by having a good short game.

The short game is a lot easier with the 15-inch cup.  Instead of being frustrated on the greens, the enlarged cup makes chipping and putting the most exciting part of golf.

When I played in the 15-inch event, I tried to make every chip and putt.  Call me crazy, but I believe that is a great mindset for any golfer, especially when playing tournament golf.  Dr. Bob Rotella says in his book, Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect, that you should be trying to make everything inside 120 yards.

In addition to playing with a positive mindset, there is a real buzz around the course when people are knocking in shots.

There were over 100 chip ins at Pauma Valley, and people were cheering each other on throughout the course.  One of my playing partners hit a pin seeker from 175-yards that went in.  The pace of play was also exceptional, which is normally absent from tournament golf.

The Hack Golf Initiative

The Hack Golf Initiative was founded by TaylorMade and the PGA of America in January 2014.  The 15-inch cup is one of several ideas that serve “to re-invigorate the golf experience to ensure the game continues to thrive in the 21st century.”

The enlarged cup helps create action not normally experienced on the course (think 100 chip ins), increases the pace of play, and the players are able to focus on enjoying their round instead of worrying about the small margin of error associated with golf.

It is important to understand the 15-inch cup is meant to help grow the game.  It is entirely possible to have both a 15-inch cup and a regulation hole on the green, and the players can choose which hole to play to.  This does not distract the players on the course who want to play a traditional round of golf.  In addition, it will help with pace of play because the golfers choosing to play the 15-inch cup will not take their time to line up four-footers.

Understanding the criticism

Golfers who do not like the concept of enlarging the hole have a good point: Why change the game we love?

Golf is a difficult game, but the satisfaction of hitting a good shot and making a birdie is a great feeling.

Most golfers enjoy the challenge of breaking 90, 80, or 70 for the first time, and they hold onto that memory for the rest of their lives.

I can also see hesitation from parents who want to introduce their children to golf.  I remember how driven I was as a young teenager to get better at the game so I could make the high school team, and eventually go on to play college golf.  Parents who see the spark in their children should encourage them to play with the traditional cup so they can prepare for junior golf tournaments and beyond.

The main point

The main point of the enlarged cup is to attract more people to the game so they can experience the values of playing golf.  Honor, integrity, perseverance, etiquette, friendship, and charity are all values I have learned through golf, and the 15-inch cup will help introduce a new wave of people to the lifelong benefits of the game.

See a video of the 15-inch cup event created by the Southern California Golf Association (SCGA).

Stay tuned for more discussion on the 15-inch cup, and other initiatives growing the game of golf.  Please comment below to continue the conversation.

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Tags: Pga Of America TaylorMade Golf

  • Nicko Demeter

    “Most golfers enjoy the challenge of breaking 90, 80, or 70 for the first time, and they hold onto that memory for the rest of their lives.”

    Yes, and these new idiotic rules are DESTROYING that feeling. Thanks for advocating ruining my game.

    • Bernie D’Amato

      It is possible to have both the regulation hole and the 15-inch hole on each green, so everyone can enjoy the game they choose to play. Although I disagree with you, it is good to see you are passionate about golf. Do you have any ideas that will help grow the game?

      • Nicko Demeter

        Let me first address the “having both holes on the green” argument: One of my local courses already has that. For foot golf. And yes, they get in the way. Apart from a bunch of people that have no idea what etiquette is kicking soccer balls on the fairways while I am trying to play they have also taken up some of the most scenic corners of the course since it was the only place they could accommodate those larger holes.

        As for growing the game: Yes, come up with ways to lower the fees. Golf is still viewed as a “rich man’s sport”. Do more to get over this stereotype. Have courses hold community days where they would show the basics about the game FOR FREE (not $99 like it was advertised last time) to people that are interested. Promote golf in the community as well as in the popular media. Have more promotional events where someone could meet a pro and talk about the game.

        These new rules are not growing anything. They are ADJUSTING what is perceived as difficulty. They are pushing the goal posts that someone needs to get to by changing the actual sport. So what if we go to the 15 inch hole and it does not work? What if the one do-over does not bring people to the game? What’s next? Amnesty holes? No scoring? How about trophies for everyone?

        For the record, I am not a good golfer. I am a 20 handicapper who is passionate about getting better every single day in the game that I love. I do not want the PGA to make it easier for me. I just want to have more opportunities to play. That’s how you keep your existing golfers and introduce new ones into this great sport.

        • Bernie D’Amato

          I agree with trying to lower fees. I am always on the lookout for good deals, and I think websites such as golfnow.com and teeoff.com (formerly ezlinks.com) are doing a good job of lowering the cost of playing golf.

          However, golf is a unique sport in that anyone can play, and its success is based off people actually teeing it up. Very few people have ever played organized football, yet it is the most popular sport in America.

          Golf needs to bring people into the game, and think about all the changes that have helped. Carts and technology have helped (try hitting blades or the old small driver heads). So a larger hole has the potential to create buzz and get more people hooked on golf.

          To be clear, we need multiple initiatives. The 15-inch cup is one, the First Tee is another, reviving caddie programs across the country may help (caddies love free golf on Mondays). The PGA Tour is at the forefront of interacting with the community, so hopefully the meet and greets with pro golfers inspires the youth to pursue golf from an early age. Augusta National is doing a wonderful job too by hosting the Drive, Chip, and Putt.

          Growing golf will take years, and the more initiatives the better.