Will Nine Hole Golf Help?

We have been plagued by how much time it takes to play a round of golf and this very issue has had the greatest influence over the decrease in participation over the last decade or more. (see Growing the Game report)

There have been hundreds of suggested fixes regarding how to resolve the Pace of Play problem (see our recent article Slow Play: Causes and Fixes) including trying to find a solution through  mathematical models, but in most cases, these are only short-term fixes.

It is a fact that asking golfers to leave the course when they are playing slowly is unpopular for the slow-playing  golfers and the operators of golf facilities are not willing to do this because they don’t want to lose the income or potentially lose these golfers as customers.

However, it has been proven that by ejecting golfers from the course who continue to play slowly and reimbursing their green fees has had beneficial results in the increased income derived from those who want to play faster and are attracted to the course known to be a fast play course.

Fast cart golf play, no (or only one) practice stroke, ready golf, putt it out, and hundreds of others are very helpful suggestions which should be part of an education program, that will soon become the norm and easy to promote, especially to those who have only one choice i.e. play faster or don’t play.

A suggestion to encourage nine-hole golf, in the same breath as encouraging fast play, is equivalent to suggesting that we can save money on shoes if we cut off one leg OR we can halve our commute time if we moved closer to our work place. If we only walk half the distance at the same or slower pace we have not solved the problem, only shortened it. The frustrations still exist but for a shorter time.

I think nine-hole golf is a wonderful idea but in and of itself does nothing to speed up play.

Let’s find out WHY the slow car is driving slowly and side line it until the driver finds a way to speed up his/her driving using some side roads or better designed layouts appropriate for their skills.

Read my book “Just Hit It” for an in depth look at why we play this silly (but wonderful) game.

Share your thoughts regarding nine-hole golf by replying below.


38 thoughts on “Will Nine Hole Golf Help?

  1. How about alternate shot play as the norm, as it is in Britain. That would speed up the game quite a bit.

  2. Nine hole golf solves nothing.
    Most people don’t live right on top of a golf course,and they’re not going to drive any significant distance to play nine holes.
    The only way to reduce the amount of time to play a round of golf is to eliminate the foursome from the game.
    Two can play faster than four. It’s that simple.
    Most of the time spent in a round of golf is watching three other people play. That is a huge waste of time.
    I understand the social aspect of recreational golf, but let’s be honest here.
    If that is your primary reason for playing the game, there are cheaper and very likely more enjoyable ways of spending time with friends.
    But, you don’t have to give that up.
    Just split your foursome into two twosomes, and you’ll have at least an hour to eat and drink in the clubhouse afterward instead of having to run home to your wife and kids.
    You get your fun, and the course makes even more money from concessions. Everyone wins!
    Courses should start by setting one day per week, or even one part of a day aside for twosomes only play.
    Promote the fact that you’re going to play 18 in three hours or less.
    Try it and see what it does for business.
    If it doesn’t work, you’re not out a thing.
    But it will work.

  3. A lot can be done by players simply being conscious of what they’re doing. I can’t count the times the group ahead has left a cart or their bags in front of the green then gone to putt out, requiring them to backtrack afterwards to retreive their cart/bag, then head to the next tee. Another mindless habit is for two players occupying the same cart to drive to one ball, have that player hit his ball, then drive accross the fairway to restart the whole process again. Instead, the second player can either take the cart or take three clubs (to be sure he’s got the right club) over to his ball while the first player is hitting. Just these two suggestions could save lots of time over an 18 hole round. Some of slow play is simply the players not realizing the delays they are causing and not because they are inconsiderate of groups behind them, just mindless carelessness.

    • Totally agree. A lot of golfers don’t know to use a cart and actually play fast. They think the cart makes the round go fast regardless of what they do.

      I also don’t understand why so many people equate playing ability with playing fast. You can be a terrible golfer and still play quickly: be ready when it’s your turn, watch where your ball goes, limit practice swings, don’t worry about the exact yardage, etc.

    • Been hearing this same stuff for 40 years. If it hasn’t caught on by now, it’s not going to. Not saying you’re wrong, but people just won’t do it.

  4. Like some of the above people said, the worst offenders of ‘ slow play ‘ are the pros.
    People watch them & think it is OK to look at the putt from 7 different angles, test the wind, take 4-5 practice swings & then go to the bag & get a different club. The poster who said ‘ you need time to enjoy the experience and the desire to come back & improve’ hit the nail on the head. I don’t play a round of golf so I race around the course. I play golf for the friendship & relaxation, and I won’t play at courses that have a ‘ time limit ‘ on a round. I live in Las Vegas & there are to many other sports to play if the golf course becomes greedy. Let’s put this monkey to bed once and for all and get back to having fun & enjoying ourselves and having ‘ FUN ‘ without a time limit.

  5. I have been trying to introduce my grandchildren to the game I try to go on weekdays when the courses are not as busy as the weekends Of course it is slow play but most golfers I meet are very understanding and encouraging I try to teach ready golf but it can be a little difficult with young kids but how are we to grow the game

  6. Slow play is a function of ego, not handicap. Slow players nearly always say ‘I paid for this round and I’m going to take my time.’ Simple courtesy, including checking your six for a waiting group, is all that’s needed. I organize 20 to 30 seniors in a nine-hole game twice a week. We tee off at 7 or 8 minute intervals and are ready for #10 90-100 minutes later. Our handicaps vary from 8 to 38, our ages run from 50 to nearly 90, and nobody has to wait. Ready golf, continuous putting, and simple courtesy do the trick.

    Well , sometimes we have to wait if we catch up to some buttheads whose on-course behavior is awful. C’mon, guys, while we’re young, please!

  7. There is much history that is eradicated by pushing fast play. I especially do not like ready golf as it does away with the teeing honors which gives the first to tee a strategic advantage, as it should. Every time I have been a part of ready golf it is ruined by the golfer who wants to be first. Golf should be played as its history dictates as it is a gentleman’s game. I would say that for amateurs the loss of distance and stroke could be changed to loss of stroke only and forward tees should be encouraged for use relative to handicaps. The slower the players, normally because of high handicaps or age leading to loss balls, etc., the further up the fairway they should begin each hole. All of the abnormal slow play I have encountered has been high handicappers playing from back tees on modern courses that are just too long. The original 12 hole course would be well appreciated by modern amateurs.

  8. Playing 9 holes per se will not help the slow play problem. What really slows golf up is the play on and near the green. It really bugs me when I see the players in fornt of me, who have tken 5 to get on a par 3 three,green, marking thier golf balls, plumbobbing to determine the break and finally putting, only to miss and then, go through the whole rigamorole again. Invariably they will not offer to let you play through as they move to the back tee on the next hole, and their combined drives do not equal 200 yards.

  9. Low handicappers and pros think that all golfers play as well as they do and therefore should play 3:45 rounds. If the average handicap is 16 and half of golfers do not break 100, how do you expect them to play as fast as the hot shots? By slicing and hooking and missing fairways and taking more shots it just takes more time. If the hot shots want to play fast have them go off early, or reserve a “day” for them, or a time period (say 11AM to 1 PM and have no tee times for 45 minutes ahead of the 11 AM hotshot start to open up the course).

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