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The par four sixteenth hole at the new Al Zorah

course in Ajman, UAE, was photographed by Kevin

Murray. The project was overseen by Dirk Bouts of

Nicklaus Design. Turn to page 9 to find out more.

Working with

what we’ve got

With the decline in golf participation that has been seen in the US in recent years

– mirrored, to a greater or lesser extent, in most other key golf markets – the golf

industry has developed a major interest in figuring out how to attract new players,

especially younger ones, to the game. New formats, new equipment, new tools – all

have been tried. Many commentators have pontificated on the need to speed up

golf, or to make it easier, or more welcoming.

The trouble is that most of these well-meaning initiatives have missed the point.

“Oh,” says one talking head, “we need more six, nine or twelve hole courses, so people

can play golf in an hour or two. That would fit more closely with today’s priorities.”

I am not opposed to quicker golf – in fact, in these pages, I have long advocated for

a return to speedier play, and the idea that a round of golf should be a half day, not a

full day activity. But in America, Britain and many other countries, we have hundreds,

thousands of existing golf courses already in play. There may well be opportunities

to build short courses, especially in urban environments, but any effective solution to

the golf business’s issues will not involve the construction of hundreds of new venues,

but instead, finding a better way to use the venues we already have.

The idea that, in countries where the supply of golf courses is already more than

sufficient, people are suddenly going to create lots of new, albeit smaller ones, is

crazy. It isn’t going to happen, and any grow-the-game schemes that are based on the

sudden emergence of new nine hole courses are really no more than pie in the sky.

Adam Lawrence