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Recreation: Wider golf holes a can’t-miss bet for Cannon Ridge Golf Club


Cannon Ridge Golf Club has created a solution for every golfer who has ever seen a putt roll directly toward the green, then veer to the right or to the left.

And it’s quite simple, really. They’ve just made the holes bigger.

“So far,” course general manager Bart Wolfe said, “the response has been pretty good.”

No, this is not for the purists. And it is not necessarily for avid golfers, either. Deane Beman, the former PGA Tour commissioner who designed Cannon Ridge, just thought this would be a way to draw a new group of players to the course.

Each hole has a regulation 4-inch hole, as well as a larger 8-inch hole. (Six-inch holes were also an option, but Wolfe said they simply weren’t that big of a difference from the regulation cups). The 8-inch holes are placed near the edges of the greens, where they are least likely to get in the way of regular golfers.

Wolfe said some current members were initially uneasy about the presence of the holes, but after playing a few rounds, most said they were unaffected.

The new cups are being used on a trial basis this fall and winter, when play generally decreases. But if they are a success, Wolfe said, they might keep them around.

There have been some concerns from regular players that the new holes would bring too many inexperienced players to the course, thus slowing play.

But Wolfe believes the secondary holes could actually speed up the pace of play.

“Most beginners, and I’ve taught a lot of them the last 25 years, a lot of them learn to get to the green in three to four shots,” Wolfe said. “But it usually takes them three, four, five-plus shots to get it in the hole. They spend as much time from the fringe of the green to the green, getting it into the hole.”

Wolfe said a few courses around the country have experimented with the larger cups, but most are 27-hole layouts, and the larger cups are just used on their nine-hole courses. Cannon Ridge has the alternate holes on a full 18.

The hope is that beginners, families and duffers with high handicaps will be drawn to the newer, more-forgiving setup.

“And Cannon Ridge has a reputation for being a pretty difficult golf course,” Wolfe said.

It is easy to differentiate the two cups. The 8-inch holes are marked with bright red flags, and the regulation cups have blue and gray flags.

When some tournaments are held, the larger holes will be covered. But the course will soon hold a tournament honoring Wounded Warriors, and they will have the option of playing the red flags.

If a player accidentally hit their ball into a hole they were not playing, they would simply take a drop from that spot. Of course, if they happened to hit an accidental hole-in-one, there’s no real harm in counting it.

“Everybody likes going home and saying they shot a 75 instead of a 90,” Wolfe said. “They don’t have to tell their families they played the 8-inch cups. They can just say they played their best round ever.”

Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442

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