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I’m not out to change the United States Golf Association rules, but there’s one change that I think golf needs: If you don’t finish in three and a half hours, your round doesn’t count. Do the math. It’s five miles to walk a golf course. Let’s say you walk at four miles per hour. That’s about an hour and 15 minutes. Let’s round that up to an hour and 20, because you have to zigzag around. That leaves you 40 minutes to hit about 100 shots. That gives you 30 seconds a shot. So you can finish a round of golf in two hours without breaking a sweat. If they set the rule at the top, it would just change everything. I don’t need to watch some guy stalk a putt for 20 minutes. Give me a break. Hit it. Everybody is into this magical, mystical good walk. Well, the good walk is getting terribly spoiled by the speed of play.
The second issue is that there’s essentially only one version of the sport. The equipment I’m using as a 57-year-old technology executive is effectively the same as what Tiger Woods uses. It’s the same playing field, the same golf ball, and the same set of rules. And you know what? I’m just not quite the same athlete as these guys on the pro tour. And neither is my 10-year-old or my wife. We need an on-ramp game for beginners and people who can’t afford the 10 hours a week on the range that it takes to hit a golf ball pure. Let them hit from a tee wherever they are on the course. Instead of a cup, have a bell that’s about a foot in diameter with a flag coming up out of it. Peg it in a part of the green away from the regular cup. As soon as their ball rings the bell, they’re holed out. This way you’re going to learn to swing and ultimately graduate to the tournament game.
In baseball, we have T-Ball. Is Major League Baseball going nuts because people in the park are using a big softball and throwing underhand slow pitch? No. Yet the second anybody says let’s have some new rules and a different game played on the golf course, everybody gets their khaki shorts in a bunch. — As told to Ira Boudway
Watch Scott McNealy explain how to fix golf at www.businessweek.com/howto/golf