Confessions of a 9-Hole Golfer

Confessions of a 9-Hole Golfer

By Susan Smiley

GAM Director of Membership & Communications

It used to be that when people thought about golf, they thought about a leisurely 18-hole round followed by dinner and cocktails at the 19th hole. But recently, more and more golfers are opting to play 9 holes for a variety of reasons.  Nine is fine!



Playing nine holes requires less of a time commitment. Like everyone else these days, golfers are busy. A golfer could manage an early-bird 9-hole round before work and certainly could play nine holes after work without having to worry about cutting the round short due to darkness. The popularity of 30-minutes HIIT classes or “10 minute abs” workouts illustrates that people want to exercise; they just have a small window of opportunity in which to get it done. It is the same with golf. It isn’t that folks are less enthusiastic about the sport. There is plenty of golf passion out there. Most people just find it much easier to work a 9-hole round into their schedule than an 18-hole round.

Playing nine is also great for golfers who are coming back from injury or have chronic physical ailments. Those golfers may be able to manage nine holes but 18 would be overdoing it and risking further injury.   

The USGA points out that a 9-hole round is perfect for beginners or for golfers just getting back into the game after a hiatus. It allows someone to learn, retool and improve somewhere other than the driving range. Even for the more experienced golfer it is great sometimes to play a par 3 or executive course and hone the short game.

I grew up playing golf on a 9-hole course. Golf was a great activity for all of the neighborhood kids and on weekends, my dad and I would play. I have played on three different golf leagues all of which have been 9-hole leagues. More often than not, I opt to play nine.  And I am not alone.

The USGA has designated July 29 as PLAY9 Day. The day not only recognizes the rising popularity of the 9-hole round but encourages people to get out on the links and play. It is better to get in a nice nine somewhere than not to golf at all.

That being said, we 9-hole players need to adjust the way we think of our golf game. Like the runner who says, “Oh I ONLY ran the half marathon” many 9-hole golfers will proclaim, “Oh, my league is JUST a 9-hole league” or “I ONLY played nine today.” The nine holes you play is no less legitimate than the 18 holes someone else plays any more than a 1500 meter run is somehow more legitimate than an 800 meter run in track and field.

Nine-hole scores can be posted and calculated into your USGA/GAM handicap index just like 18-hole rounds. So the USGA recognizes both types of golf rounds as legitimate, bona fide golf!

July 29 is officially the day to PLAY9, but you don’t have to wait to go out and enjoy a great 9-hole round on your favorite course. Get feed your passion!