Golf Architect

William W. Amick

ASGCA Golf Course Architect 















In the past few years a lot has been discussed and written about how to get more people to play golf.  Part of the problem is the equipment they start playing with and partly it is the courses they have to start playing on.  Making both the equipment and courses simpler so kinder to beginners could encourage more people to take up the game. 

 First letís discuss a golf course thatís more suitable to beginners than todayís conventional par-72 model.  A more ideal solution is that the course need not be so long with plush conditioning or even have nine or 18 holes.  The course might have say four, six, maybe 12 holes with those holes being enough to give novices a feel and understanding of what playing on a conventional golf course would be like.  Its shorter holes would allow beginners at least to have a chance of occasionally reaching greens in regulation strokes.  The course would require a considerable smaller total amount of land, cost much less to construct and have an annual maintenance budget a fraction that for a full-size course.

The entire playing area could be like a fairway rather than having individually elevated tees, elaborate green complexes and long grass rough.  There could be a large fine-quality green near the courseís starting point for learning and practicing putting and chipping.  This green most likely would be natural grass, but if easier and less costly maintenance is desired could have an artificial or synthetic surface.   Adding to the playing strategy of the courseís holes could be obstacles that are steep walls in line to the targets.  These walls could be of any selected material that is stable, such as stone, block, bricks, even wood.  This would be cheaper than constructing and maintaining conventional sand bunkers.  These walls would be clearly seen on approach shots and if a playerís ball stopped close to and behind a wall, they could then be penalized by having to play sideways from a line to the target.  This is much like a golfer in a deep sand bunker near its green-side wall must turn and play sideways from the direction of the green.  Where water exists or it could be created there could be water hazards.

 Now what equipment should beginners start playing this course with?  The standard set of 14 golf clubs is a heavy load for anyone to learn all at once.  And thatís without getting into the fact that each of those 14 can be hit in a myriad of ways.  So why shouldnít beginners begin by using the club easiest to hit and so with the greatest likelihood of providing satisfying results at an early stage of participation?  This club is a utility or hybrid club.  Itís called a hybrid because the club is something between an iron and a wood (metal).  They are about the same length and loft of a middle iron with weight lower in the head than most other clubs.

With a hybrid club itís easier than with any other club for beginners to get a ball airborne, even hit from off the ground without a tee, in the direction they are aiming.  A putter is certainly not easy to master, but not hard for most anyone to make contact with and get a ball rolling generally in the desired direction.  Thatís why most kids even quickly get satisfaction and lots of fun from putting in miniature golf.  A putter could be used and practiced on the putting green close to the courseís starting point.

 This brings us to the ball beginners should start playing with.  It is a ball similar to a golf ball in some ways in how it performs, but very different in other ways.  Beginners typically start playing with a golf ball much like the ball played by the best golfers in the world.  Itís the same weight, same size, same look, but one with big drawbacks initially to beginners.  This is because the best results in getting the standard golf ball airborne and compressed sufficiently for distance are obtained from a fast and consistent swing.  And if beginners donít hit a golf ball in the clubís sweet spot, which they often donít, a golf ball will not go very far, perhaps running along the ground and might even somewhat stinging their hands.  None of these are in the least bit rewarding to beginners.  A ball lighter and safer than a golf ball is far better for neophytes on all of these counts.  Such a ball is available and beginnerís courses should be designed to fit them playing this ball.

 Whenever a beginner becomes accomplish enough as a golfer, they can move on to the increased complexities, more demanding courses, much higher costing equipment, increased playing fees, longer playing time and the vastly increased difficulty of golf.  Or some could continue to play this just-described ďpastoral pastimeĒ for as long and as often as they wish.

 To get more free information about any and all of these matters: a course more suitable to beginners; a club easiest for beginners to learn with; a ball friendlier to beginners; contact me now, Bill Amick at 1-386-767-1449, or P. O. Box 1984, Daytona Beach, Florida 32115 USA.

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Professional Golf Course Designer - Bill Amick
P.O. Box 1984
Daytona Beach, FL  32115
Telephone (386) 767-1449