Earlier this week, as a result of their Hack Golf campaign and feedback from amateur golfers everywhere, TaylorMade Golf hosted a one-day golf event that featured 15-inch golf holes on each green. While this idea is cute and adds a novelty factor to the game for some, it will not solve anything.
When I’m not littering the interwebs with my horrible golf thoughts, I am a certified Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma methodology and change management. Just like Vanilla Ice, if you got a process problem, yo I’ll solve it. That’s what I do during the day.
A fundamental tool commonly used in process improvement projects is something called a value stream map (VSM). Long story short, a VSM shows you the current state of your process, how long each process step takes to complete, and identifies/eliminates areas of waste in the process. Hence, you end up with an improved process of higher value. Get it?
Back to the problem at hand: the game of golf is not growing as fast as it should/could be. Why?
According to some of the feedback TaylorMade’s Hack Golf website has received, it’s because golf rounds take to damn long. I agree; amateur golf rounds that take more than 4 hours make me want to punch a baby. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
If we look at a golf hole as a process, we can use a VSM to identify where this problem might reside. For this example, I’ll use the last par-4 hole I played during my round last week, on which I made a bogey 5.
Next, we add the time it takes to complete each individual major step. To keep things simple, let’s say each shot only takes about 15 seconds to complete.
So, in theory, the “value-added” steps in the process of playing a golf hole — or the steps I am willing to pay for as a customer — should take about 75 seconds to complete. But we all know that there’s much more to a golf hole than just swinging the club. If we add all of the walking, finding the golf ball, waiting for the group in front of you, practice swings, reading the green, and other non-value-added steps to our map (purple triangles), it looks a bit…crowded.
Yes, I was extremely generous with suggesting those waiting (waste) steps only take 90 seconds each. Some people take longer, others not so much. My point is that if we look at this example, the process step of getting the ball in the hole — to which a 15-inch cup supposedly “improves” — doesn’t take that much time now anyway. It’s all the crap leading up to getting on the green.
However, whoever is in charge of handling that voice of the customer feedback from Hack Golf just made a big no-no in the Lean Six Sigma world: jumping to solutions. What data do we have — either empirical or otherwise — that a 15-inch golf hole will speed up pace of play?