Azalea Sands hopes bigger holes bring bigger crowds

Azalea Sands hopes bigger holes bring bigger crowds

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - At many stoplights around the Grand Strand, you can find a golf course to play a quick round, but with many of those, it's hard to tell them apart. That's why Azalea Sands Golf Club recently decided to stretch the rules a little bit to stand out.

"Just like everything, it evolves, and this is part of something that may be coming for golf," said Head Golf Pro Craig Kenly.

Now, instead of making that stressful five foot putt into a tiny four-and-a-quarter-inch hole, golfers can relax and sink their putt into a nice, cozy 8-inch cup.

The course made this change because much like other courses around the area, business has been tough lately.

Kenly says the decrease in difficulty gives you the opportunity to make shots you would never make before.

"I was riding around and talking to people and a little old lady chipped one in from a few yards off the green and her eyes got so big and wide. I said great shot and she says it's the first time she had ever done it," Kenly said.

"The ball goes right in, so it makes it perfect, it makes my game a lot better," said Anne Pape, visiting from Indiana.

While it may be easier, there are still plenty of opportunities to botch that easy putt. He says not only have most people loved the change so far, but the time it takes to play a round has dramatically decreased.

With more players making more putts, foursomes are finishing their rounds at least 30 minutes earlier than before. Which is nice now, but will be a game changer over the summer season.

"Those folks are gonna be able to come out at 8:30 a.m., done at 11:30 a.m., back on the beach or come out at 2 p.m. and done at 5 p.m., they can go to dinner," said Kenly. "That pace of play is gonna allow for more rounds."

While Azalea Sands is the only course offering this unique change, other struggling courses have tried their own ideas. Two courses have closed down in the Grand Strand in the last few months, so others are seeing the writing on the wall.

Some courses offer caddy girls to join you for your round, and now two courses also offer footgolf, a hybrid of soccer and golf.

"Just like everything it evolves, and this is part of something that may be coming for golf," said Kenly.

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