Concerned that an increasing number of people are abandoning the game of golf, Jack Nicklaus will introduce an experimental option during Labor Day weekend at one of his home clubs -- Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio.
The club will host two separate 12-hole tournaments featuring a hole that will be nearly doubled in size, and penalties for slow play.
Nicklaus cited statistics from the National Golf Foundation that estimates a loss of close to 4 million players over the last five years. Over the last five years, the dropoff has been 23 percent among women, and 35 percent among juniors, he said.
"Many say the game is too hard and others say the game takes too long," Nicklaus said. "I think the game is a great game and in no way am I trying to change it. There are few bigger traditionalists than me, but I realize we need to start thinking out of the box.
"So I ask all the traditionalists to be tolerant while we try something new, something fun to hopefully help us grow the game. It's too important for us not to try. With so many sports and activities fighting for the time and attention of families, we need to think of ways to make our game more attractive and thus more inviting, especially to children and young adults."
Muirfield Village will host 12-hole tournaments Sunday and Monday where the cups will be eight inches in diameter, instead of the normal 4.25 inches. Players will be encouraged to move up one tee from where they'd usually hit.
Players also will be required to finish their rounds in 2 1/2 hours. For every five minutes they're over the allotted time limit, one stroke will be added to their score.
Nicklaus also was one of the proponents of the "Tee It Forward" program, an initiative earlier this summer from the PGA of America and the U.S. Golf Association that encouraged players to utilize tees that would provide them the greatest enjoyment.
Patriot Golf Day weekend
The fifth annual Patriot Golf Day weekend kicks off Friday, with a number of Philadelphia area PGA of America professionals and golf facilities participating in the event that raises money for the Folds of Honor Foundation, a national non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships and other assistance to the families of service men and women.
The initiative, which continues through Monday, golfers at participating public courses will be asked to donate at least $1 for each round of golf. Donations also are accepted at participating private facilities. Those who don't play golf but wish to donate can do so at FoldsofHonor.org.
Since 2007, PGA Professionals have helped raise more than $8.6 million, allowing the Folds of Honor Foundation to award more than 2,100 educational scholarships internationally, in all 50 states and in 41 PGA Sections.
The PGA of America estimates that there are 250,000 dependents of fallen and wounded military service men and women from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts alone, and 87 percent of them do not qualify for federal educational assistance.
Patriot Golf Day and the Folds of Honor Foundation both were founded by Major Dan Rooney, a PGA Professional, USGA member and former F-16 military pilot with the Oklahoma Air National Guard.
Honor for Hatfield junior
Isabella DiLisio, who is entering her freshman year at Mount St. Joseph's High School, has been named to the Gary Gilchrist Golf Academy junior all-star team by the American Junior Golf Association.
DiLisio, 14, of Hatfield, won her first event of the season, the Junior All-Star at Penn State. She also had top-10 finishes in the AJGA Philadelphia Open at Huntingdon Valley and the Lessing's AJGA Classic.
The academy sponsors a junior all-star series for players betwen the ages of 12 and 15.