European golfers embracing 9-hole rounds

Competitive nine-hole golf is increasing in popularity in the British Isles and several other countries around the world, according a recent report from the R&A.

“We are encouraged to see that shorter forms of the sport are being embraced by clubs and golfers as a perfectly valid means to play golf in less time, either recreationally or competitively,” said Duncan Weir, executive director of golf development at the R&A. 

The R&A 9 Hole Championship Final will be held July 14.

The greatest increase in competitive scores between 2016 and 2017 was in Ireland, where competitive nine-hole golf rounds jumped 64 percent for women and girls and a whopping 200 percent by men and boys. 

From 2014 to 2017, England Golf saw a 50 percent increase in nine-hole competitive scores. During just the one-year period of 2016-17, there were 17 percent more rounds played by men and 6 percent more by women. 

Wales Golf and Scottish Golf reported a 28 percent and 30 percent increase in competitive scores from 2016 to 2017.

It’s not just the British Isles where the shorter format is growing. 

In Spain, the number of nine-hole rounds played from 2014 to 2017 has gone up by 36 percent. Canada has seen the number of nine-hole scores submitted between 2007 and 2017 go up by 164 percent. And in Portugal there has been an impressive 269 percent increase in the number of nine-hole qualifying scores recorded over the 10-year period from 2007 to 2017.

Golf’s professional circuits also are embracing shorter formats of the game. The GolfSixes event was recently played on the European Tour and the popular junior GolfSixes League is expanding through new partnerships across Europe. 

Meanwhile, England Golf and the European Tour also recently announced a partnership to engage members at over 1,900 clubs through GolfSixes.

In the R&A report, nine-hole golf also gets a boost from many stars, including Pádraig Harrington, So-yeon Ryu, Jon Rahm, Charley Hull, Mel Reid and Richie Ramsay.

“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,” said 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,” he said. “I think this is important for safeguarding the future of the sport, while providing a fun and enjoyable means to exercise and socialize with family and friends.” 

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