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Is golf becoming too easy?

Tyrrell Hatton retained his Alfred Dunhill title in record-breaking fashion; is there a need for changes and if so, what can be done?


The 25-year-old Tyrrell Hatton was on fire, shooting 24 under par and claiming the Alfred Dunhill title by three shots – a new tournament record. However, it wasn’t just the Englishman who was on form this week.

‘Race to Dubai’ leader Tommy Fleetwood also had a memorable week when, on the Friday, he shot a course record 63 at Carnoustie.  Dubbed the “Beast of Angus”, these links are widely regarded as one of the toughest courses in the game, but the 26-year-old annihilated it with nine birdies and nine pars.

Only a few days later, another English star would write himself into the record books. Ross Fisher was on course to shoot the European tour’s first 59, however the 36-year-old settled on a 61, breaking the previous course record at St. Andrews. Fisher tore the old course apart with 11 birdies and seven pars.

After these records were broken along the links of Scotland, it made me wonder if golf is becoming too easy? Is enough being done to ensure the game remains challenging?

Improved scoring

If we look at the history of golf, the scores in tournaments have been getting better every year. For example, at this week’s tournament, the score was bettered once again, this time by one shot.    

We can also see this pattern in the Majors. In the last six years the scoring record has been set in three of the four majors with Spieth tying the record at the Masters in 2015, Rory McIlroy setting the record in the US Open in 2011 and Henrik Stenson setting the record in the British Open in 2016.

It’s not just overall tournament scores that are improving year on year but also individual rounds that show how easy golf is becoming. For example, in the last seven years there have been a whopping five 59 rounds and a record-breaking 58. Before 2010 there had only been three 59s in 30 years.

So why have scores been reducing so dramatically in recent years? I believe there are two main reasons for this; first, the advancement of technology and second, golfers are now becoming serious athletes.

In the year 2000, only one player averaged over 300 yards but by 2010 that number had risen to 21. The increase in distance off the tee makes it significantly easier for players to achieve birdies and eagles. The reason for this is that they are hitting lower clubs onto the green and this enables them to attack the flag with more ease.

Possible changes

What have golf’s governing bodies done to stop these scores from occurring every week? Well, for starters, they have tried lengthening the courses, but to little effect. This year’s US Open was played on the longest course in the history of the Major. However, despite the length it still yielded a 16 under score which is almost unheard of in this tournament.

There are a few ways in which I believe the game can be made more challenging without having to lengthen courses to the extreme. One way would be to make the ball heavier, so it won’t fly as far which might result in higher scores. Another way would be to make the courses more challenging, such as narrow fairways and ensure firmer greens and longer rough.

These factors would make the course a lot tougher because the player would have to shape more shots and ensure total accuracy. By narrowing the course, the player may sacrifice his/her distance for more accuracy off the tee.

How would you make golf tougher? Discuss in the comments below!

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Matt Cradock

Hello, my name is Matt Cradock and ever since the age of 3 I have had a passion for playing and writing about sport. I'm currently studying Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University and I mainly write about Golf and Football.

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  • Chris Decker

    Many years ago when I lived in Florida I was invited to talk to Ben Wright on a radio show. It was about how to get match play on TV. The solution wasn’t as hard as the networks made it out to be and today match play is seen far and wide, so change can be made if willing. There are great golf courses, like The Inverness Club, that no longer host major championships because they don’t have the space to create the length required. I agree, it’s high time the equipment gets reined in before the game is completely out of control. When I played tournament golf as an amateur, it took many years to learn how to make the game easy. The hardest part was the mental side of golf course management. Once accomplished, golf can be a lot more fun because the trouble isn’t in play anymore. From a tournament perspective, the only solution is to control the equipment. The golf ball can be made slightly bigger. The dimple design can be reconfigured. They’ve already taken away V-grooves. The driver size can be reduced in size which would require more precision. Hybrid irons can be banned, thus, brining back the long irons. Let’s face it, the three shot par five isn’t in play nearly as much as when I grew up. There are a lot of things that can be done to make golf courses more competitive. Then there would be a lot of storied golf courses that could be brought back to host major championships again.

Is golf becoming too easy?

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