The pandemic was disastrous for sport, golf included—there’s no doubt about that.
Courses were closed, social mixing banned, and professional tournaments postponed left, right and centre. However, now that all of this is behind us for good (touch wood), the uptake in 9 hole golf is arguably one of the industry’s most notable trends—and it’s growing quickly.
For many people, life is a lot different now to how it was pre-Covid. Be it daily routines, how and where we work, or the time we spend with family—our priorities have changed. This means golf has also changed, and we golfers have had to adapt in order to keep on playing the game we love.
The benefits of 9 hole golf
There are many benefits to 9 hole golf, some of which you may not have necessarily considered before now. Well, that’s why you’re here, right?
This is an obvious one. Playing a 9 hole round is much quicker than a full 18, and that’s arguably why it’s become so popular so quickly.
The time factor is one of the biggest benefits of playing 9 hole golf. With flexible, remote working now the norm for lots of us, a 9 hole round can be easily squeezed into a lunch break or before the work day even starts if you’re lucky enough to live near a course.
A full 18 is serious business and can take five hours plus to complete, even on a good day, once you’ve also factored in all the walking between holes. The sad reality is that most of us probably don’t have this much time spare each day.
Instead, however, a shorter round gives you your precious time back, making golf a much more feasible day-to-day option rather than just at the weekend or on special occasions.
Playing 9 holes works out much cheaper than a full 18.
For a start, having new and expensive clubs and other equipment is less important on shorter rounds, especially if you’re using them for practice. Second-hand clubs will do the job here.
Also, some clubs won’t require you to be a fully paid member to play 9 holes, and there are many pay-as-you-play options out there. As we all know, yearly membership fees can be expensive, but it’s important to remember they aren’t always necessary.
Related: 15 ways to play golf on the cheap
Golfers tend to be less bothered by their score when playing 9 holes instead of 18, which makes it a perfect opportunity to practice and work on your weak points.
For example, let’s say you’ve been trying to perfect a tricky lob shot for a while but feel too pressured to give it a go in a full 18 setting when you’re up against it. A shorter, more relaxed round is the ideal time to bring it out.
Many golfers use a 9 hole game merely as practice, especially if squeezed into a lunchtime or even a quick after-work round—so it’s perfect for experimenting. Put in the hours on the 9 hole course, and you’ll reap the rewards the next time you play a full 18—trust us.
A full 18 can be pretty intimidating if you’re new to golf and just starting out. If you haven’t quite caught ‘the bug’ yet either (you’ll know when you have), you might find you get bored after a while, too. However, shorter rounds are a great way to ease yourself in and stay motivated.
After all, 18 holes can be a struggle if you’re a novice.
On the other hand, 9 holes are great if you’re an experienced golfer looking to get your family more involved. Young children, for example, are far more likely to stay engaged for longer when not being dragged around a larger course.
Put it this way—you’ll probably have better luck pitching golf to the kids as a one to two-hour activity as opposed to five or six!
We touched on this a little earlier on, but your score is less of a focus in 9 hole golf. While this is indeed true, playing 9 holes can still be highly satisfying for those who like to score well regardless.
With fewer shots and holes, the greater the opportunity to accumulate a competitive score. The average score for a typical adult playing 9 holes is around 45—or bogey golf. But, of course, scores depend on various factors, such as weather conditions and the difficulty of the course.
However, decent amateur-level golfers can expect to record scores in the 30s if they’re playing 9 hole rounds regularly, so it can be a good confidence booster.
It’s easy to feel the ‘heat’ on a full 18, especially if you’re playing in a competition, but much of this stress is eased on a 9 hole round.
Not having to constantly overthink your score on every hole allows you to feel cool, calm and collected out on the course.
How long do 9 holes of golf take?
The time it takes to complete a round of golf ultimately depends on you and your game. Some golfers like to take things slow and steady, while others will race around the course lightning quick.
You’ll know which one of those categories you fall into yourself. However, those already acquainted with 9 hole golf say completing a round in less than two hours is more than doable.
9 hole golf courses
In a world where a full 18 is often the norm, a 9 hole round might seem hard to find, but that’s not the case. Many full-service golf clubs and ranges now offer the option to play shorter rounds—and the choice will only grow as the trend continues.
It’s arguably never been easier to get into 9 hole golf. Check out this interactive map of some of the UK’s best 9 hole golf courses and find your nearest one.