Nine golf is booming! And we have the statistics to prove it…

Why Nine Hole Golf Is Booming

According to new research, including from the governing bodies in Great Britain and Ireland, there is a significant increase in competitive nine hole scores being submitted.

The rising popularity of this area of the game is testament to the work being achieved to promote nine hole golf and shorter formats as a way of enjoying the sport in less time, either recreationally or for handicap purposes.

Key statistics from Great Britain and Ireland have revealed:

  • England Golf has reported a 50% increase in nine hole competitive scores returned between 2014 and 2017 (70,127 to 105,254). Between 2016 and 2017, competitive nine hole club rounds by males increased by 17% (50,667 to 59,336) and 6% by females (43,314 to 45,918).
  • In Ireland, from 2016 to 2017, competitive nine hole club rounds by women and girls increased by 64% (18,753 to 30,803) and by over 200% by men and boys (2,370 to 7,250).
  • Wales Golf has reported a 28% increase in nine hole competitive scores returned between 2016 and 2017 (12,201 to 15,671).
  • Scottish Golf has reported a 30% increase in nine hole competitive scores returned between 2016 and 2017 (30,021 to 39,107).

“Nine hole golf is a shorter form of the game that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy together and can be played after work, after school and at the weekend,” says Richie Ramsay, a three-time European Tour winner.

“It’s encouraging that golf clubs are now offering their members opportunities to play alternative, shorter formats of the game in order to meet the demands of busy, modern lifestyles. I think this is important for safeguarding the future of the sport, while providing a fun and enjoyable means to exercise and socialise with family and friends.”

The popularity of nine hole golf is also evident in other countries; in Portugal, there has been a 269% increase in the number of nine hole qualifying scores recorded from 2007-2017 (1,688 to 6,225), while in Spain the number of nine hole rounds played from 2014-2017 has increased by 36% (35,777 to 48,806).

In Australia, last year’s Play 9 initiative, which gave players the challenge of tackling the back nine holes at the Emirates Australian Open, attracted 163 clubs and 2,442 competitors. Organisers are aiming for 350 clubs and over 10,000 players to enter Play 9 this year. Elsewhere, in Canada, nine hole scores submitted between 2007-2017 rose from 277,722 to 732,072, an increase of 164%.

Ramsay is among stars of the sport, including Padraig Harrington, So Yeon Ryu, Jon Rahm, Charley Hull and Mel Reid, who feature in a new series of videos produced by The R&A with the support of various national bodies about their memories of playing nine hole golf and their enjoyment of the shortened format.

This year’s R&A 9 Hole Championship Final will also be played on Saturday 14 July ahead of The 147th Open at Carnoustie and thousands of golfers are competing to try and qualify through events being held by clubs throughout Great Britain and Ireland.

In Scotland, the first ever national nine hole final at Milnathort next month will now be played over two days after over 170 clubs registered for the chance to go forward to play at the famous Angus links.

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