The Experts’ Take, Episode 3: The Time Factor and Cultural Shift

Our all-star panel – Golf Channel/Sirius XM’s Michael Breed, renowned swing guru Hank Haney, Golfweek’s Geoff Shackelford, Golf Channel/’s Charlie Rymer, pro golfer/social media personality Paige Spiranac and Golf Tourism Solutions’ Bill Golden – discusses how both the time factor and cultural shifts have affected the game.


Hank Haney: Seems to me like the low-hanging fruit, like you talk about the things that are wrong with the game. And you know, it takes, it’s really hard, okay. So it’s going to be hard. You’ve got to let the equipment manufacturers try to make it easier. I don’t think there’s anybody, there’s nobody that says, “Hey, golf’s too easy.” I would let them go, and then you’ve got to address this time issue thing. I mean, that’s the easiest low-hanging fruit out there. People say golf takes too long. And all they have to do is set an example, the PGA TOUR and the USGA. But you cannot run your tournament, the US Open, take five and a half hours to play, and then run commercials in-between all the breaks and tell people to play faster. You just can’t do that.

Michael Breed: But again, I go back to this other thing. If we grow rough up and we make deep bunkers, right. Back to Geoff and his insight into golf course architecture. We start talking about golf course architecture, that’s one thing. And the way the golf course is kept is another thing. You (Hank) know as a golf course owner. You start growing rough like this and people are searching around for their golf ball and trying to figure out how to hit it. And it’s hard to hit it out of the rough. And you’re hitting it out of the way. That takes time.

Hank Haney: But it’s more important for them, the USGA, to have even par win their championship than it is to play in a reasonable amount time.

Geoff Shackelford: Come on. It’s the national championship. They shouldn’t be compromising that to grow the game. It’s a tournament that has certain –

Hank Haney: Then compromise something to grow the game.

Michael Breed: But if we accept the fact too –

Geoff Shackelford: Well, why don’t we just throw out all the equipment rules except for professionals? Why should the average golfer be hampered by the same equipment rules as the pros? Tell me that.

Michael Breed: Here’s my question though –

Geoff Shackelford: If I don’t grow the game and make people have more fun –

Paige Spiranac: I don’t think that will grow the game.

Geoff Shackelford: No, it won’t. That was my point earlier.

Paige Spiranac: Again, that’s not one of the issues that we’re talking about.

Michael Breed: The US Open –

Hank Haney: If you made the game easier –

Paige Spiranac: It’s like we’re not spending the time [crosstalk 00:01:58]

Michael Breed: The US Open is in the –

Geoff Shackelford: They feel that way.

Hank Haney: If you made the game easier it would help.

Paige Spiranac: But I think growing the game is just having –

Geoff Shackelford: We’ve made the game easier.

Paige Spiranac: interest in the game too.

Michael Breed: The way you make the game easier is to cut the rough down a little bit, let greens get a little bit slower.

Geoff Shackelford: No, greens speeds, too –

Michael Breed: Make bunkers a little bit more like a Travis bunker instead of having these big, deep-faced bunkers. And you know what? People wouldn’t hit a second shot in a bunker, or not get out or hit it over the green or whatever.

Geoff Shackelford:  But –

Michael Breed: And that’ll pick up play. And we’ve done it and we’ve seen it.

Geoff Shackelford: Golf has somehow survived for 400 years being hard. People were drawn to it with crappy equipment. I’m sorry, but you know, it’s never been better. And it somehow thrived in spite of all that, and been very difficult.

Michael Breed: I agree.

Geoff Shackelford: So why is that it’s only now –

Michael Breed: I think difficulty is a great part of the game of golf. I think the challenge of the game of golf is a great part of the game of golf. I think the problem with the game of golf is it takes too much time. People don’t have time. They just don’t have time.

Geoff Shackelford: Time is everything.

Michael Breed: Time is a big problem.

Charlie Rymer: When I was a kid, on the weekends my parents didn’t come to watch me.

Geoff Shackelford: Drop you off, right?

Charlie Rymer: Yeah, they didn’t come to watch me play golf. They went and played golf by themselves. So now, your young parents, they’re not coming to the golf course on Saturday and Sunday. They’re going to watch their kids play golf. They’re going to watch them play – There’s cultural changes.

Michael Breed: Families travel as a group now.

Charlie Rymer: Yeah.

Michael Breed: It’s not like you’d wake up and go – like, think about it. When you were growing up. When I was growing up, I had a bike. And my parents would say, “Dinner’s at five.” And you were gone until five o’clock.

Geoff Shackelford: Yeah.

Michael Breed: That would never happen today. Never.

Bill Golden: I think it’s a cultural thing more. I struggle with the time issue. And honestly, if it is a time issue, the game of golf should embrace it and say, because there’s going to be continuing reverberations about social media, being connected to your phones and this, that and the other thing. Embrace it. What’s the matter with four hours or less, or five hours or less out there with our families? We’re together, just enjoying time. You can still have your phone with you but you’re unplugged. You’re out in nature.

I think, Michael you referenced what it was like when we were kids. Culture’s different now.

Michael Breed: Totally.

Bill Golden: Moms and dads both work. You know you’re not – They’re doing soccer tournaments and travel baseball tournaments and this, that, and the other thing. So I caddie my whole life growing up, or my whole childhood up through college. And I caddied for people my age or men like me, in their 40’s, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

Michael Breed: You bet.

Bill Golden:   Every day. They’re out there doing business, doing their thing and that’s pretty much evaporated. So –

Michael Breed: Well, the caddie programs as a whole have become professional events. But that’s also part of cost of running, right? If I owned a golf course, I’d rather send out a cart than send out a caddie.

Charlie Rymer: We could do a whole hour discussion on that.