Growing the game of golf, along with the size of the holes

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Rory MacLennan, owner of Summerheights Golf Links, shows off one of the new eight-inch cups at the course.

CORNWALL, Ontario - Golf, it would seem, is not immune to the changing landscape of sports.

Hockey has many clamoring for bigger nets and smaller goalies (well, their equipment, anyway).

Baseball's designated hitter has remained a sore spot for purists of America's pastime since the 1970s.

And golf, facing a growth challenge the likes of which hasn't been seen in decades, is moving to bigger cups and shorter holes to bring more people to the sport.

Case in point is Summerheights Golf Links in Cornwall, which just this week introduced eight-inch cups on nine of the holes on its MacLennan course.

Summerheights owner Rory MacLennan said the reason is simple.

"It's really an effort to grow the game," he said. "It speeds up the game."

Some courses, including Summerheights, have also brought in "advanced tees" - an area well ahead of the normal tee-off areas which makes challenging holes easier for young people and novices.

"It's more enjoyable for people who don't play that often," said MacLennan.

And the new thinking among golf's movers and shakers suggest it could be just the tip of the iceberg.

While typical golf cups are just 4.25 inches in diameter, golf.com reported earlier this season that there's even been talk of a 15-inch variety.

The website also suggested participation in the sport is dwindling, down nearly 20 per cent in the United States (a golfing powerhouse) over the last 10 years alone.

MacLennan said the response at his course has been a welcome one. The holes are placed on the course on Mondays, when Summerheights' junior program is on the links.

But other duffers, who tee off between 7 and 11 a.m. on Monday mornings, or after 3 p.m., can try them out as well. The flags for the larger cups are modified to distinguish the hole from the standard size.

Geographic location: CORNWALL, United States, Ontario

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