"See, honey? There's still some daylight left!"
A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada
By Torleif Sorenson on 4/23/13
Perhaps Golf Digest editor Jerry Tarde got the idea from the Texas Tornadoes song that opens the film Tin Cup, "A Little Bit Is Better Than Nada." Perhaps his work has kept him at the office beyond normal hours. Perhaps he was somehow inspired by USGA President Glen Nager's speech on February 2.

Or, perhaps he recently encountered a pimply-faced, sniveling little teenage twerp running the cash register at a golf course pro shop, telling Mr. Tarde that nine-hole twilight rounds aren't permitted on weekdays. (If that's the case, then I'd like to force-feed the little twerp a box of corn starch.)

Whatever the case, Golf Digest announced that they are teaming up with the USGA and the PGA of America to promote the nine-hole round. "Time For Nine" is starting with a grass-roots effort to collect a list of as many courses as possible that welcome nine-hole play. In an effort to spread the word that a little golf is better than not playing golf at all, Tarde was quoted for GD's press release:
"We think golfers will play a whole lot more if they join the growing number of golfers who have come to love nine-hole rounds. The real message is, don't let the inability to play 18 pull the game away from you. Eighteen is great. But nine is fine."
Nager also mentioned nine-hole rounds in his February 2nd speech; the USGA has followed up not just with a short and sweet "Play Nine" Page, but also linkage to Rule 5-2, of which paragraphs b, c, and d are especially applicable. It is possible for nine-hole scores to count toward a player's GHIN handicap / shot index; this is covered in Rule 10-5.

The USGA's GHIN system includes slope-and-ratings for nine-hole courses, as do thousands of North American courses in oobgolf.com's international course database. And as more countries and their respective golf associations switch over to the USGA's system, rest assured that we are adding this data to our database as quickly as possible.

So, the next time your spouse / girlfriend / significant other complains when you want to squeeze in nine holes before dark, just explain that not only is this important to establishing a baseline for your GHIN handicap, but the USGA, the PGA of America, and a major golf publication are trying to popularize nine-hole rounds. You can say, "Hey — it's not just for me, but it's also for the good of the game. They're depending on people like me!"

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Image via Flickr, Brendan Riley

[ comments ]
birdieXris says:
The truth is that golf courses don't want 9 hole play. not sure why, but they don't. You can't go out to ANY course in this area and play nine holes without paying a premium on it. I think if you're going to play 9, it should be HALF of what 18 costs no? Nope. Easily $5-$7 more to play 9 holes than it should cost. At that point, you might as well pay for 18 -- which is exactly what the course wants. They make it more expensive to play less, therefore getting you to say "screw it, let's play 18". If you play 3 rounds, 9 holes at a time and buy a bag of tees, you payed as much as playing 5 rounds of 18 holes. Publicizing 9 hole rounds will almost certainly make them more expensive in my opinion.
mjaber says:
I've played 9 holes a few times. I'd rather skip it. I feel like I've missed out on something if I only play nine. There are great holes on both front and back, and I feel like I've missed out if I don't play them all.
bkuehn1952 says:
It would be helpful to have courses on board with this idea, too. Too many places attach a premium to playing 9 holes by charging 60%+ of the 18 hole rate. Yes, there is a slightly higher administrative cost with lots of 9 hole rounds but not enough to charge 2/3 of the 18 hole round cost.
Wes11point5 says:
I just can't stand to play only 9 holes.
jrbizzle says:
The little I know of anti-nine hole courses is they have a hard time lining up customers to play the back nine (due to the lack of rangers) without holding up 18 hole customers making the turn. So they typically send all nine hole players off the front, which leads to uneven wear on the course.
jasonfish11 says:
birdie and bkuehn are right.

But if its a local course just email the owner or managment with your complaint about the 9 hole rate being 60%+ of the 18 hole rate. I got my local course to drop the 9 hole rate from $16 to $13 (not a huge difference) after 3pm. I emailed them saying I'd come play 9 holes at least 4 times a month after work if they dropped their rate (and I would just go to the near by range if they didn't). I even explained how the front 9 will be empty for the most part after about 4pm. So they reviewed it and dropped their rates (on both courses they own). Now I can either play 9 for $13 or go to the range and hit a large bucket for $10.
metnorm says:
From the postings here I guess I feel lucky. In my area I can think of four different 9 hole courses just off the top of my head that I can go play and they are fine with rounds of 9 holes. Also never have had a problem to play just nine at a full 18 course. But prices like everyone says is a little more then half the price of 18 but if you look at the world of buying stuff you'll always pay less per item when you buy in bulk so really I have no problem with the little extra. Also if you decide to play an extra 9 after the 18 most courses around here will charge you even less then normal for 9 holes something like 5-10 bucks heck even gotten free rounds with a cart after playing 18.
windowsurfer says:
Love the freedom of membership - played 4 holes @ 5:45am b4 work today; sometimes play a hop-scotch round after work, when course is full and I just jump around slow grps; start on back if front is jammed, etc. I often wonder why 12 holes did not become the convention? Could be that game was first played by folks not (as) bound by work obligations? Also more tolerant than me? In my books 5 straight hours with anyone - even Mother Teresa - is a long time!
windowsurfer says:
And, truth be told, my golf partners are more like Redd Foxx (with gout and a hangover) than Mother T.
jfurr says:
I play nine all the time. When I first started there was a course in the process of rebuilding, they only had 10 holes open and it was cheap. Later, I changed to a 27 hole course, which is great for nine hole rounds as you have three choices to find one less crowded. And being a member, I pay $70 a month dues and walking is free. That's typically how I practice, walking nine solo then go elsewhere and play different courses full 18 hole rounds with friends or in tournaments.
Duke of Hazards says:
around here, the only 9 hole opportunities are early bird back 9 (likely for the reasons noted by Xris) for 65% of the cost of a full 18, or there's super twilight at about 55-60% of the daytime 18 rate (usually starts a few hours before last light, 2 hours after normal twilight rate starts). i enjoy playing a full 18 and would have no problem finishing in a couple-few hours except for all the painfully slow bozos on the course. i'd consider private club membership at some point, favoring a spartan golf purist's club (think poor man's McArthur or Pine Valley) vs. some hoity toity bells and whistles joint. unfortunately, avoiding the riff-raff comes with a steep price tag.
DougE says:
I play nine whenever I can't get in 18, usually after work when I can't get to the course before 5:30 or 6. Being a member, it doesn't cost me to play, though it does cost me for the cart if I want to use one. I enter the scores for my GHIN as either front nine or back nine, as they are sloped differently. All the calculations are done automatically when I enter a 2nd nine hole score. The OOB stats are set up the same way. I look at it this way: two nine hole rounds is like playing one 18 hole round with a long break for lunch at the turn, except it takes place over a couple days. It could be worse. It's better than NOT playing because I don't have 4 hours available on those two days.
jasonfish11 says:
@windowsurfer "I often wonder why 12 holes did not become the convention?"

There are 17 shots in a 5th of scotch (1 shot between each hole).

Dont know if this is the real reason courses are 18 holes but I like to think it is.
bsta93 says:
I have not run into the problem of courses turning away play. I worked the counter at a course for 8 years and those 9 hole rounds turn very profitable after 2 PM on weekends or for after work leagues. These customers also typically buy higher margin items like tees, balls, soda, beer, and food in excess of what someone who plays frequently buys.
jcstoll says:
Probably the bulk of my rounds are 9 holes, at a great little 9-hole course in Cambridge. I get out there before work a few times during the week. It's a great way to start the day without taking up the whole morning (and provided the round doesn't go horribly wrong).
jel1011 says:
i would rather play 36 every time i play i have played 54 that was a great day
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