Confessions of a Niner
Posted: 2/7/2017 by Susan Smiley

I must confess that I am a 9-hole player. Occasionally I might foray into 18-hole territory but for the most part, a 9-hole round fits in better with my lifestyle.

Perhaps growing up within biking distance of a 9-hole course conditioned me to realize way before it was trendy that “nine is fine.” The little 9-hole course also had a driving range and putt-putt so for kids, making it the perfect place to spend a lazy summer afternoon. On weekends, my dad and I would grace those links and afterwards, no matter what our respective scores, we’d stop at the 7-11 for a Slurpee. The thought never crossed my mind that nine holes were somehow “not enough.” A typical Saturday might be playing nine holes with my dad, coming home for lunch, then riding my bike to the roller rink or the library. I liked playing nine holes then for the same reason I like playing nine holes now: it leaves plenty of time for other activities in your day.

I find the 9-hole round fits my schedule perfectly.

I don’t think I’m alone. And neither does the USGA.

Since 2014, the USGA has promoted its Play9 initiative to let golfers like me know that a 9-hole round is every bit as legitimate as an 18-hole round. Time is the top reason that most people site as to why they do not play more golf. Between work, family commitments, taking care of mundane things like mowing the lawn, the 9-hole round just makes more sense for many of us. I look at it this way; is it better to play nine holes or zero holes? Of course the answer is nine holes.

This year, the USGA plans to work on a more grass-roots level to remind golfers that playing nine holes is always a great option. This year, the USGA will coordinate more closely with GAM and other state associations to help draw more golfers to 9-hole play. The USGA is designating the ninth day of each month from May through October as official Play9 days. The USGA is helping courses to promote Play9 and encouraging clubs to plan special events and activities encompassing 9-hole play.

I love that the USGA is boosting my style of golf. I hope that some golfers who feel pressured for time will embrace the 9-hole round and get back to playing more golf. For me, this is what I’ve been doing since I was six years old. I hope I can get other golfers to join me this season in supporting 9-hole play!

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