Deemed a success by Club officials and a “blast” by participants, Jack Nicklaus’ recent experiment of 12-hole tournaments over the Labor Day holiday achieved what the Golden Bear had hoped by bringing in golfers of all ages, including women, children and some who had been estranged from the game, and opened the eyes of all that golf is and can be fun, especially when played faster.
Muirfield Village Golf Club, as part of its Labor Day weekend golf festivities, hosted two separate 12-hole tournaments, during which golfers were encouraged to play one tee up from where they normally play, the hole was almost doubled in size to 8 inches, and participants were penalized a stroke for every five minutes over the 2.5-hour time limit.
At the conclusion of play on Labor Day evening, the golf staff at Muirfield Village reported that despite cool and damp conditions just over 100 golfers participated in the event. The Club said that the field included a large number of senior members who don’t regularly play; a significant number of families, including mothers and daughters who had previously been intimidated by the course; and a number of juniors.
“From the members and participants I spoke to, as well as the reports I received from the Club staff, it sounds like everyone had a lot of fun and enjoyed the concept,” Jack Nicklaus said. “I am delighted we got such a positive reaction.
“I was also pleased to hear not only did we have a large number of people participate, but we had such a variety of players. We had good players, as well as beginners, and we had a good mix of seniors and families. I heard there were a number of young players, who had taken up the game as a junior but lost touch it with it for whatever reason. This is a great group to connect with and hopefully events such as this will intrigue and interest them even more, and inspire them to continue with the game.”
According to the golf staff, scoring reflected the favorable format. There were two eagles recorded on the par-5 fifth hole and a large number of birdies, including one golfer who birdied four holes in a row. The low score for 12 holes was 5 under par. In addition, the caddies played a 12-hole round following tournament play, and the low score was 5 under.
Although participants were given a 2.5-hour time limit, the average time of play for the 12-hole round was 2 hours and 15 minutes.
“That was terrific,” Nicklaus added. “If you look at your time on a golf course, more time is spent putting than during any other aspect of the game. If you can speed up what you are doing when putting, the overall time to play a round will be reduced.
“The goal of this event was to try something unique, experiment with different ideas and formats, and get a reaction from people. I think we accomplished all the things we wanted to do. It was a great experiment and we’ll just take it from here. If we can get the word out, get people to try similar events or outings across the country, get some valuable feedback, then I think you are going to have a lot of people who might like to try this on a more regular basis. As I emphasized before, we are not trying to change the game of golf. We are just trying to think of new and different ways that might bring more people into the game, show them that the game is and can be fun, and that they can enjoy golf while playing it faster.”
Muirfield Village Golf Club has already indicated that they will be trying the event again at the end of October.
“I don’t think you could find a better platform for this than Muirfield Village, with Jack Nicklaus taking the lead,” said Muirfield Village Golf Club Head Professional Larry Dornisch. “This isn’t going to change the way many of play golf, but maybe this gets the conversation started on making golf more attractive to younger players and beginners.”
To view video highlights and player
comments from the day, visit http://laborday2011.mvgc.org/