The United States Golf Association wants all experienced, new and prospective golfers to understand the ease and benefits of nine-hole rounds, so follow along on Wednesday, July 29 and tee it up on a short course nearby. That day marks the USGA's second annual "Play 9 Day," a celebration of nine-hole rounds and all the little things that add up to a wonderful sport.
Designed to show present and future players that there is more to golf than a full 18-hole round on preferred courses, Play 9 Day is a campaign focusing on the low cost, small time commitment and legitimacy for handicap purposes of nine-hole golf. American Express is the chief sponsor of Play 9 Day, and Michelle Wie is the featured pro. On the Play 9 website, Wie talks about the merits of nine. Visitors can also find articles like "Why It's Cool to Play Nine" as well as a golf-course search function.
One of the main focal points of the initiative is how golfers can still indulge in the game and have enough time in the day for their other important tasks. “Play 9 Day addresses the time barrier to the game that some face," says Mike Davis, executive director of the USGA. "By expanding our efforts through outreach with USGA Member Clubs and state and regional golf associations, we anticipate a steady uptick from last year’s program, affirming the merits of playing golf when time does not permit an 18-hole round."
The 2014 program emphasized that nine-hole scores can be used for handicap purposes. After Play 9 Day last year, there was a 13 percent increase in nine-hole scores posted on the USGA’s Golf Handicap and Information Network (GHIN®).
A 2013 study conducted by Sports & Leisure Research Group found that 33 percent of core golfers (those who play eight to 24 rounds annually) and 38 percent of casual golfers (those who play seven rounds or fewer) would play more nine-hole rounds if the format were “more strongly encouraged.”
Here on Long Island, nine-hole rounds are easy to come by. Many nine-hole courses are run by municipalities and are good bargains for area residents. Courses like Timber Point GC and Middle Island Country Club are full-length facilities with rotating nines. Spring Lake Golf Club and Harbor Links feature 18-hole courses alongside nine-hole alternatives. Out east, Sandy Pond Golf Course and Cedars Golf Club have both been refurbished and rejuvenated in recent seasons under new owners.
For more on Long Island's nines, check out GOLI's list of public courses, or see previous posts on Nassau's nine-hole courses and Suffolk's nine-hole options. You can also track the nearest tees and greens by using GOLI's course map.