Are Easier Course Set-ups Good or Bad for Golf?

If you have refined your skills to excel in navigating various obstacle courses, it does not mean that other less skilled athletes will outperform you on a less severe course. Yes, indeed the differences in performance between the most and lesser skilled may not be as great but the most skilled should prevail if they perform well.

Most recreational golfers today – 99+% of the golfing population — need to select a course with fewer obstacles and shorter in length if they are expected to come off the course, wishing they could play another nine — or at least looking forward to returning for another round — rather than expressing a sigh of relief that it’s over.

One of the most effective ways to grow or even maintain participation in the game, is in the hands of the architects and course owners, by providing a playable course to meet the needs of the participants i.e. an appropriate challenge to satisfy the subconscious urge we have to evaluate ourselves.

There are very few courses that are too easy.

Do you think that difficult courses add to the entertainment value which is so important for the PGA Tour, and do these difficult courses have a place in recreational golf?

Let us know what you think by sharing your comments below. We look forward to hearing from you and are sure that your comments will be interesting for the rest of our Frankly Friends.

In the meantime, putt well,

Frank & Valerie

2018-05-24 11.56.29

Southbroom Golf Club in South Africa,  a very playable golf course, even with a water hazard in play at the 9th hole and a palm tree growing in the green!

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11 thoughts on “Are Easier Course Set-ups Good or Bad for Golf?

  1. Easier course setup is akin to playing from the proper tees. Most senior players make the transition without difficulty. For me, it’s simple-I’d rather shoot 75 than 85 and delude myself into thinking I can still play.

  2. I am 74 years old, and my scores this season have ranged from 71 to 84, playing from mostly the senior tees. One problem I see is that many golf courses have not carefully thought out WHERE to place the senior tees. As a still somewhat decent player, I don’t want to play par 4’s of 295 yards all of the time, so our group will play a combination of some regular men’s tees (par 4’s 350 and under) and some senior tees, when the distances are appropriate. The only problem with this method is that it makes it almost impossible to accurately compute a players handicap! What can be done to set some appropriate guidelines for the length of courses that suit the skills of senior players?

  3. Hi Frank and Valerie:
    I enjoy reading or listening to your comments on different topics.
    On the subject of easier vs. more difficult courses, I feel the course designer(s) can accommodate less skilled and more skilled golfers by providing various Tee boxes on every hole giving golfers a choice of what degree of difficulty the player wants to take on. The angles to landing zones or to doglegs can also be taken into consideration to vary difficulty.
    Keep up the good work.

  4. I agree that shorter courses are good for golf, and I’m very pleased that you and other experts in the golf industry are pushing this issue. But I’m very concerned that course designers are creating putting nightmares with so many crazy undulations in the greens. Some are fine, but this seems out of control…

  5. These days I agree with your premise that easier courses are more fun. Though that wasn’t true until I was in my 60s. Prior to that I wanted tough 6500 + yard courses or longer. Bethpage Black, Shinnecock, Winged Foot, Merion, Pebble Beach, Firestone etc were my favorites. These days at 76 I’ve lost a lot of distance and play the Ocean City Md resort courses from the ladies tees around 4500 to 5500 yds. My drives are 100 yds shorter around 185 and I’m generally past obstacles like water hazards off the tee, but it still takes around 4.5 hours to get around! I can’t take the sun or too much heat either so I’ll try simulators this winter.
    Love your show and articles. Been a fan of you and Valerie for a while.
    Best thing for golf is to shorten the rough. The pros have plenty of spotters, we don’t.
    We lose too much time looking for balls even in the “short rough”!

  6. Well stated, Frank & Valerie. As our golfing population ages, we have less use for long courses. At our local club, I heard one middle-aged man state “I’m tired hitting 3-woods into the par 4’s. I am going to get my handicap reset to the senior tees.” Championship courses with concrete greens, unplayable slopes, and ridiculous hazards requiring pin-point yardage knowledge can turn good shots into poor results discouraging the golfer from ever playing there again.

    Personally, in over 50 years of playing, I have never played a golf course that was “too easy.” I have played some that I scored better on. Some of my favorite rounds are some “easy courses” in which I broke par by a single stroke for 18 holes. There is a special kind of pressure when you get to a personal best that is more treasured than reaching an uphill 447-yard par 4 with two wood shots.

  7. Frank and Valerie, I’ll respond at length in an email I’ll send you in a few days (because you’ve struck a nerve with me). In the meantime, in addition to “playing it forward,” to make golf more enjoyable for the recreational golfer: (1) mow the grass shorter in the rough, (2) provide a bail-out option on every hole, both off the tee and around the greens, which would include . . . (3) re-thinking the placement of many greenside bunkers. Also, golf in America has become virtually a 100% airborne game; bring back some pitch-and-run options. When I leave the house to go play golf, my wife always says, “Have fun!” Little does she know.

  8. Assuming most golfers are shooting around 90 on a tough course and most have a goal of breaking 85, it would seem logical to make the courses less punitive.

  9. Course difficulty should be managed by tee selection and indicated on the scorecard: these tees are for this handicap range, etc. Ridiculously difficult green undulations or slopes penalize all golfers. Rewards should be available as well as risks. If a course is designed for a bogey golfer from the middle tees, the longer tees should challenge the low handicaps and the shorter tees should accomodate highter handicaps. A 4 1/4 hole challenges all golfers more than adequately!

  10. This is Avery good question. I like more difficult courses because of the aesthetics they encompass. Yet I like a less difficult course because I feel good after posting a better score. So I guess I can go either way. I like the less difficult as a steady diet but will try a more difficult layout a few times a year just for the sake of saying I played there and to test my abilities. I am interested in what others have to say on this item.

  11. Yes, Frank & Valerie, On vacation playing golf, don’t know the layout yet. 76 playing the Senior tees. Hidden water, Bunkers U can’t see me in and 400 yrd par 4s. It has happened in other outings. Golf world wants us to move up. I was happy to move up. One Pennsylvania Resort course, the Kentucky Blue Grass so thick we lost balls a few feet off the fairways. So near the greens, impossible to chip or pitch with any certainty. I played in Bermuda grass in Fla & Ga for 40 years. Give my Bermuda grass.

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