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Twelve-hole golf? Don’t laugh; Jack Nicklaus likes the idea

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Let's face facts, friends: even if you're not playing with a turtle for a partner, your average golf round is going to be in the four-hour range. Combine that with the necessary pre-round (driving range, putting green) and post-round (19th hole, if you know what I mean) preparations, and you're looking at a six-hour commitment.

In 2011, that simply doesn't fly. The casual player doesn't have the time or the attention span for such a sustained outing, and as a result, golf participation is down virtually across the board.

One possible solution? Twelve-hole golf.

Hang with us here; the idea has merit. After all, recreational tennis players, the closest analogue to recreational golfers, only play best-of-three sets, where the pros play best-of-five, at least on the men's side. Shortening the game can help increase the focus and draw in more players.

And if you think this is some bizarre little stunt kicked off by people who have no clue for the soul of the game, guess again: the idea's gotten juice from none other than Jack Nicklaus himself.

Nicklaus has instituted twelve-hole cards at two of his courses, Muirfield and Bear's Club, and has found immediate positive response. Speaking earlier this week in Tennessee at a charity event, he noted that he's tried to run the idea past PGA Tour commish Tim Finchem with little success, but added that Finchem may be starting to consider the idea.

"The game is so difficult to start with," Nicklaus said. "You take kids. They start basketball at a 6-foot hoop, 7-foot hoop, small ball, big ball.... All the sports work their selves up. In golf, you start with a set of clubs and a hard golf ball and it's not easy. It's the health of the game, the growth of the game, keeping people in the game, that I'm interested in."

So. Twelve-hole golf. You in?

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