A group of seniors at Barefoot Resort have discovered that the game of golf can be more enjoyable if you ease up on the rules a bit. So they’ve created their own set of rules…
Jed DuBreuil, 76, has organized the “Stay in the Game” group of men ages 68 and older that has been playing on Thursdays over the past month under modified rules and elective shorter distances that make the game more fun and less difficult.
The group plays every Thursday with allocated tee times between 10-11 a.m., and DuBreuil said 12 to 15 players have participated per outing despite winter weather.
“I think it will take some time to evolve, but the one thing it does is ensures anyone getting up in years that there is a time and a place for them to play…There’s always a place at the club for them. This is a way for the older guys to still get out and enjoy the camaraderie of golf.” – Jed DuBreuil – Barefoot Resort Member
Golf has three well-publicized inherent drawbacks: it’s too expensive, takes too long and is too difficult. The “Stay in the Game” group helps alleviate two of those as the modified rules make the game faster and easier.
The group allows men to stay in the game despite health limitations and a decline in physical performance. DuBreuil said the group’s philosophy has helped entice players who had quit the game to tee it up again.
“If the game is going to grow, there need to be more opportunities for the marketplace, and the marketplace is women and seniors…I’ve played the game my entire life and it’s hard to give up. We need to give them a place to play and give them a chance to get back out and enjoy the game.”– Jed DuBreuil – Barefoot Resort Member
The group adheres to United States Golf Association rules with the following provisions:
▪ One Club Length Rule: A player may move his ball one driver length anywhere through the green while remaining in the same condition, except in a hazard or on the green.
▪ Sand Traps: There is no penalty for raking the bunker prior to your shot or fixing a footprint that your ball may have fallen into.
▪ Gimme Putts: All putts inside 2 feet are considered a “Gimme,” and players are encouraged to mark a 2-foot distance on their putter grip for easy measurement.
▪ Maximum Score: Triple bogey is the maximum score.
▪ Tees: Players can tee it up from any tees they want.
▪ Safety: Players can move balls if they feel there is a chance of injury, such as near tree roots, in the face of steep bunkers, etc.
“The appeal of relaxed rules relieves pressure of performance to some degree while still not radically deviating from the traditional rules of golf…An element of competition is also maintained with $3 going into a prize pot. Play is faster, less stressful, fosters peer comradeship, and is a comfortable option to splinter groups and play for pay formats that younger and more competitive-minded players prefer.”– Jed DuBreuil – Barefoot Resort Member
DuBreuil was encouraged to approach Barefoot Resort general manager Dave Genevro with his idea when Golf Channel personalities Matt Ginella and Charlie Rymer introduced their seven “Relaxed Rules of Golf” in August on the Morning Drive show.
Those rules consisted of a maximum score of double par, all penalties limited to one stroke and all drops for lost balls near where a ball was lost, two-minute maximum searches for balls, improved unfortunate lies, allowed conceded putts, no equipment restrictions including the number of clubs, and the increased use of common sense.
DuBreuil has a long history and strong connection to golf. After spending 41 years working for the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, he graduated from the Golf Academy of America in Myrtle Beach at the top of his class at the age of 60 in December 2000. His son, Danny, is the general manager of Spring Island outside Beaufort and oversees Old Tabby Golf Links there.
“This is not a revolt against the traditions of the game….[but] there needs to be a revamping of the real world of playing and enjoying golf. Some changes should be made to make the game more fun.” – Jed Dubreuil – Barefoot Resort Member
DuBreuil hopes the philosophy catches on for both seniors leaving or contemplating leaving the game, and beginners or women who are struggling with the game’s difficulty.
DuBreuil said the age limit was set at 68 because “65 brought in a more talented group. Sixty-eight seemed to be the breakpoint in the handicap department.” He said he has an email list of approximately 35 potential “Stay in the Game” players in Barefoot.
The “Stay in the Game” rounds are not submitted to calculate handicaps. DuBreuil and some others still play in other leagues or play enough rounds to keep a standard USGA handicap index.
But it’s not like many if not a majority of rounds that are used to calculate handicaps don’t include some of the liberties the “Stay in the Game” members employ.
“Everyone gives away putts,” DuBreuil said. “A lot of this stuff that isn’t allowed by the USGA is being done anyway, it’s just not talked about. They more or less are common sense and things people are doing anyway.”
Furthering the “Stay in the Game” group’s effort, Genevro said Barefoot is in the process of adding new tee areas that will shorten the minimum distances of its courses, and they’ll be marked with plaques and markings on the cart path, and will be added to the GPS units on carts.
“We’re trying to make it where people who are new to the game aren’t afraid to play…They won’t feel the pressure of people playing behind them. And for the people who are older, we want to take some of those longer par-4s and make them shorter for them.” – Dave Genevro – Barefoot Resort General Manager
Though the “Stay in the Game” group is limited to Barefoot members for the time being, Genevro believes there is potential for outings including guests and outside play that feature the modified rules, and interleague play if groups at other courses pick up on the idea.
“I think if it keeps people playing golf, we have to find a way for them to do it…If they’re not turning in scores because it’s not USGA rules, then it’s not hurting anything. It’s keeping fun in the game.”– Dave Genevro – Barefoot Resort General Manager
Alan Blondin – Sun News – email@example.com
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