Changing the rules can be a dangerous game

There is no such thing as a good golfer.

There is no such thing as a good golfer.

Ok, we have all heard of Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Mike Weir. But ask any non-professional (heck, you could probably ask some of the professionals) and they will most likely tell you they aren’t very good.

Golf is a game with a pretty steep learning curve and even those who play regularly and enjoy the sport curse about bad shots or even bad games. Any golfer who can go 18 holes without uttering a single four-letter word possesses a level of discipline and restraint bordering on superhuman.

While the goal and concept of goal is simple, the game as a whole is not and it is that aspect of the sport that frustrates experienced and inexperienced players alike. It is also what deters a lot of people from playing the sport at all.

To that effect, a golf course near Beaumont has introduced larger holes not quite twice the size of regular holes. The rationale behind the move is that the larger cups will make targets bigger while putting (in fact, while shooting at all) and thereby make the game easier. An easier game would translate into lower, better scores and more interest for the sport in general.

The rationale seems sound and being a bit of a duffer myself, I’m not opposed to any and all help that is offered to improve my score. However, I am always wary when it comes to changing rules to make any sport or game easier.

This opens up a discussion that exists outside of just golf, how much can a game be altered before it ceases to be the same game?

Skill is something that exists in all sports. It is, for the most part, the determining factor in who wins or loses a game in any competitive sport.

Developing skill is what all athletes work towards to excel in their respective sports. As any athlete will tell you, becoming skillful in a respective discipline is what makes all the hard work and training worth it. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with being able to count yourself among the elite is what athletes strive for.

As such, I usually shy away from changes that make any sport ‘easier’ as it takes away from the skill needed for athletes to excel at any sport. I’m a competitive person and while I support ideas that encourage athletes to develop their skills,

I see simply changing the rules to make it ‘easier’ for those athletes as an unfair shortcut that slights those athletes who do put in hard work and effort to get to where they are.

In late March of this year, a marketing company tried to introduce a wacky-shaped hockey puck called the ‘Aalto’ puck that bounces around instead of shooting and passing straight. To disguise this ludicrous idea from being the simple marketing ploy it was the company justified the puck by saying it introduced a random element of chance to the game, thereby leveling the playing field.

Many people, my friends and I included, openly (and justly) mocked the idea. Some thought it so ridiculous they tried to justify it as an early April Fool’s joke.

The thing is, playing fields in competitive sports aren’t supposed to be level, that’s why they are competitive. Instead of chance, there is skill that determines who is better.

However, one of my friends pointed out that a game of hockey with randomly bouncing puck might be fun too, so why not make it another sport in its own right?

Keep traditional hockey as it is for those who value skill and practice and give the Aalto puck to those who are just looking for kicks.

I think the same works (though perhaps on a different level) for this golf dilemma. Make the holes bigger for those who want a more relaxed, just-for-fun experience at the links. For those who want to be and stay competitive, keep the rules as they are.


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