By Michael Vlismas
The Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Arabella Country Estate this week made history when it featured the first 15-inch hole to be used in an official pro-am on the Sunshine Tour.
The hole was on the par-three fifth and was a hit with the amateurs and professionals who played in the pro-am on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I think it’s a great initiative for pro-ams. I even think it could be good for young kids out there getting started in golf. I take my own kids to the golf course and watch them have seven putts on one green. I think it would be fun and great for their confidence to hole putts in a bigger hole like this.”
Golf bodies around the world have been discussing an increase in the size of the hole as one of the means of encouraging more people to take up golf and also cutting the time it takes to play a round of golf as the game competes with the time pressures of modern living.
The 15-inch hole is another innovation in a year when the European Tour led the way by allowing its professional members to wear shorts in their pro-ams, and which was duly followed by the Sunshine Tour.
And Sunshine Tour Chief Operating Officer Grant Wilson says it’s an initiative they will certainly consider for future pro-ams on the local circuit.
“I think any new idea that promotes the game of golf and helps to make it easier, quicker and fun should be explored,” he said.
“As a tour we also have a responsibility to look at new and exciting ways to make the game more entertaining and attractive to beginner golfers or young children. I think this initiative is a lot of fun in a pro-am format.”
As big as the hole was, some golfers still managed to lip out, which prompted professional Doug McGuigan to say, “You’ve got to have done something really bad in your life if you have a horseshoe putt on a 15-inch hole.”
And for some of the veteran professionals on tour, the bigger hole sparked other suggestions.
“I’d like a bigger ball so I can see it better. And come to think of it, bigger fairways, bigger greens, and a bigger clubhead on my driver,” said professional Warren Abery.
Watch the video of Jeff Hopkins (pictured below) playing ‘footgolf’ here: Sunshine Tour YouTube Channel