While on the course someone recently said to me “A round of golf has always been 6 holes too long”. I completely agreed as I sweat profusely in the 96 degree North Carolina heat, humidity index not included. By the time the round was done we had spent 4 hours and 25 minutes burning up. This has nothing to do with our rate of play. The speed of a round is generally determined by the group playing ahead of you and how crowded the course is on any given day. Besides speeding up a round there are the other benefits of new courses being designed for 12 holes instead of the traditional 18:
- Land use. Many new courses are so expensive to build they have to charge an outrageous greens fee to recoup the investment. Just look at the new Lonnie Poole course in downtown Raleigh at NC State University. It’s now struggling to stay alive after just a couple of short years but can’t reduce their fee from $75 a round, not even at student rates. Reducing some less than profitable courses from 18 to 12 holes would allow the owners to develop or sell the excess land, reducing maintenance costs thereby….
- Reducing the greens fees. In a bad economy not many people are attracted to a sport that has historically been sold as one that only the elite and wealthy can participate in. Shockingly country club memberships are down. Who’d have thought? So are the number of players looking for a $55 plus round. 12 holes would reduce the fees and provide the option of walking the course eliminating the cart fee while also providing….
- Exercise. I will walk 18 holes. I won’t walk 18 holes when it’s above 90 degrees outside. Where I live that’s almost 5 months out of the year. I would walk 12 in the heat though. Honestly a round of golf in a cart is for smokers. It generally provides very little real exercise past your forearms and wrists. Walking 18 can also take some extra time too. One of the main reasons I don’t play as often as I would like is….
- Time. It’s precious to almost everyone these days. Even single people. Add three kids and a wife and any weekend is already a full schedule before I’ve got to be back in the office on Monday. I usually just don’t have 4-5 hours to justify 18 holes. Sometimes we’ll just play nine holes but it leaves you kind of wanting a few more tee shots, especially when the course is only taking about $5 off the cost of the greens fee and nothing off the cart fee. If you’re going to play nine the cart is a waste of time and money.
I wish I had a 12 hole course near me. I hear the only actual one in existence is located outside of Toronto. Ya that’s just great, in Canada. The country almost no US citizen can travel to any more without being strip searched at the border. No thanks. I hope some of the US courses in jeopardy will consider closing six holes. I believe they would see an increase in greens fees and lower maintenance costs providing economic viability. Maybe even profitability? I’m not holding my breath though because so many courses are owned by consortium’s of old timers who can’t get past the old idea that a golf course must be 18 holes or it’s just not a course. The PGA and First Tee could do their part too by supporting 12 hole amateur tournaments if and when the courses become available.