• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Ventura golf club offers smaller course for average players

June 1, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Golf is big business in Southern California, but lately, many golfers are swinging away from the game. It's a game of inches and skill that can be entirely frustrating to the point that the sport is rapidly losing players.

"Last year, three million new golfers took up golf, that's the good news. But four million left the game," said Ted Kruger, owner of the Tierra Rejada Golf Club in Moorpark.

It's numbers like that that have the United States Golf Association worried and why the Tierra Rajada Golf Club is making some potentially revolutionary changes, adding what they call "The Player's Course." To make golf more appealing to average players, the Players Course has tees that are closer to the hole, wider landing areas, and a big rule change that cuts down on penalties.

"If you hit it in a lake, it's a one stroke penalty. Then you have to tee behind the lake. We say, don't tee behind the lake, take your one stroke and put it in front of the lake," said Kruger.

But the goal isn't just to alleviate frustration. Another big problem keeping people away from the game is a lack of time. Shorter, less difficult holes mean faster games that fit better into busy schedules.

"If you can take the driver out of the average golfer's hands on a few tee shots, you're going to see a lot less time wasted looking for golf balls," said golf pro Mark Peifer.

"At the end of the day, you'll have a lower score, you'll feel better about yourself and maybe you'll play more golf," said Kruger.

It's a goal that could help drive the ailing sport back into the green.