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Are Mini Rounds Good for Golf?

by Craig Better

Sep142010

Makefield Highlands Golf Club in Yardley, Pa., offers mini-rounds that appeal to busy golfers.

Today’s post isn’t so much a tip as it is a topic I’d like your opinion on.

I hear a lot of golf course and resort operators talk about how “we” need to make golf fit in better with, “today’s modern lifestyles,” or the golfer population will remain stagnant.

The problem is, “we” don’t seem to be doing much about it other than talking.

Recently, however, I visited a golf course that seems to be addressing the issue in a bold new way, by offering golf in a new format.

Here’s what I’d like to know: is this an option you’d like to see on your next golf vacation?

Check it out and tell me if you think this is a great – or terrible – idea for golf. 

The idea itself is pretty simple: offering golf in less expensive and less-time consuming chunks than the typical 18-hole or 9-hole options.

For example, I recently played at the lovely Makefield Highlands Golf Club in Yardley, Pa., which offered a 6-hole and even a 3-hole option, albeit after 5:30 pm.

This is quite different from the equally interesting program we told you about at Maui, Hawaii’s Kaanapali Golf Resort called “Golf on Your Time,” which allows you a week to complete 18-holes.

No, in Makefield’s case, you only have to commit to the number of holes you can play right now.

A brief check of the Web turned up a handful of other courses offering 3-hole and 6-hole rates, but I was a little surprised to find that they were all, like Makefield, municipal courses.

Not a group I typically think of as being so customer-focused and on the cutting edge of inventory optimization. (By the way, these shorter rounds often command a higher cost-per-hole).

Anyway, I guess my questions to you are these:

Do you think 3- and 6-hole options are good for golf? That is, do you think they’ll fill a need that golfers are looking for and will attract more people to and/or keep them playing the game?

At the very least, are these options you’d like to have at the courses you play at home and on golf vacations?

And to the golf course operators reading this, can you tell us why you would or would not add mini-rounds at your facility? Would you only do it at off-peak times?

Personally, I’m not sure playing three holes would satisfy my golf craving. It seems more like a tease. Six holes might do it, though.

What do you think? Please share your comments below.

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Stan Haas September 14, 2010 at 1:28 pm

These “mini” rounds are a colossal dumb idea! Maybe we should go back to the American Golf idea of increasing the hole size to speed up play- NOT!!!!!

2 Jim Sault September 14, 2010 at 1:31 pm

No I don’t feel that this is really going to bring any new people to the game. Golf is a sport that you just can’t whip out a couple of shots and feel like you know & understand the game.

What I have done to get more people involved is to explain to them about the value of having a membership. You don’t need to play 18 or even 9 holes on any given night, you can simple go and play and when you done just walk away. It has made many of those who have demanding jobs think twice about weather they want to join or not and most of them do join due to the flexibility.

3 Craig Better September 14, 2010 at 1:32 pm

I have to disagree with both you guys. Research shows that among the biggest reasons people don’t enter the game — and why they leave it — is because it’s too expensive and/or too time consuming. Seems to me this idea addresses both. Also seems like a great way for courses to utilize their unsold inventory.

4 Lee Baker September 14, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Silly idea. I wouldn’t golf 3 or 6 holes. I don’t even like golfing 9 holes. It’s 18 or nothing for me.

5 WAM Golf September 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm

While it’s not something I would be interested in doing, I have met non-golfers who say they would love to play but it takes to long or they don’t have the patience to play 18 holes. It might be a good option for them but I don’t see it taking off at most courses.

great post and conversation topic!

6 Kelly R. September 14, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I’m as excited about this as having a nose ring, fifteen tattoos, wearing my hat backwards and wearing flip-flops on the course. Different is not always better.

7 james September 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I do not like the idea of 3 or 6 hole rounds. My fear is that the only people who would want to play these would be people who do not know how to golf. Most 18 hole rounds now take around 4.5 hours. If you put a bunch of non golfers who just want to try it out because it is cheap to play 3 or 6 holes, I fear that they would turn the 18 hole rounds into 6 or more hours of agony.
However, I think a 12 hole round would be a good idea. I like to play golf very much but 3 to 3.5 hrs on the course is enough. Twelve holes should take just about that long. Also, a 25 to 33% reduction in price from the current 18 hole rate would be welcome. My wife and I both play and $200 per round each, a normal rate at many resorts, is a little hard to take.

8 Veda Hoffhaus September 14, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Even at an older age, I would hate to play less than 9 holes. Maybe in a few (and I do mean few) more years, I might feel differently.

9 Thomas Terlecki September 14, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Ridiculous idea. Sounds like more clutter in the way.

10 GARY W. September 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

no ! it would tie up the course for those trying to play a reg. round !!

build a course thats 6 holes ?? who going to invest in that ?????

11 Zanne September 14, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I love the 12 hole concept… 9 is always a little too short and 18 can sometimes take a little too long but 12 would be perfect… cheaper by the dozen!

12 Alan Jenks September 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I think it is a great idea for your atypical golfer, not for the core audience you have here. Now, in regards to your question about it being good for golf vacations, I believe that is a major zero, nobody would do this on a golf vacation. However, your busy person, who is far outside of the mainstream golfing public, offering end of day, cheap, quick golf experiences could be very beneficial both for those people, as well as the facilities offering them.

13 Justin September 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Love the idea!! To go play 3 holes on my lunch break. I would do it several times a week.

14 Gus September 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I like this idea, especially if it’s done at the end of the day. There have been plenty of times I’ve gotten out of work earlier than expected, but there wouldn’t be enough daylight left to play even 9 holes. If there was a 3 or 6 hole option, I would most likely take advantage of it.

15 Dubba September 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm

The concept does not intrigue me at all. It may interest a time constrained group or the beginner who is trying to learn. I rarely play nine holes because it doesn’t satisy
my feeling of what a round of golf should be. If my wife played, then perhaps a couple experience of 6 holes would fit as a social function. Please keep the courses
open for the serious competitive golfers.

16 Eric Martin September 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm

To me, Golf is a passion. Too many of the aspects of the game (comaraderie, time with nature, time away from the hustle and bustle of work, etc.) would go by the wayside if the game is reduced to accommodate tie constraints. In effect, you are buying a “timeshare” on a round of golf to save time. It is a totally inferior idea.

17 Chuck Maliszewski September 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

For the hard and true golf enthusiast, I’m sure the “mini” round just won’t due. But, for the beginner or those that might not otherwise try the sport because of time or money, then yes these “mini” rounds might be just the trick to acquire new blood in the golf world. Would I entertain such a thought? Possibly. Maybe at those rediculously expensive venues that want $500 or more, I might consider a 6 hole round enough to get a taste, just the right amount to satisfy my craving while at a conference or on vacation with the family, where it’s tought to get away for an 18 holer.

18 Vicki September 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

3 would be a total waste and I’m not sure I could even see the point of 6. I did, however, like James idea of 12. I love the game and generally play at least twice a week but sometime 9 is not quite enough and 18 is just to much. I do agree with the others who said that have 3 hole or 6 hole players would just really clog up the course, even if it is late in the day. What about those of us who could come out at 5:30 and peal through 9 holes but have to deal with them??

19 Ed September 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm

I don’t think many of your subscribers would be very interested in 3 – 6 hole rounds, but getting beginners on a course for a limited number of holes at a late time in the day is a great idea for the growth of the game.

20 Paul Goyetche September 14, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Bad idea except if you have 3 practice holes on the side when one could loop around a couple of times. If you really crave a golf outing, go to the driving range where you can hit the ball 100 times in a hour instead of 20 (or even 12 if you are good).
9 holes is the minimum one should play and that doesn’t cut it for me.

21 Rick Darst September 14, 2010 at 2:13 pm

An after dinner 6-hole mixed league might be fun, but if you feel the game is too time consuming, join a 9-hole league. Most courses do that now and need no drastic changes in management of the course. If you can’t give up 2-1/2 hours for the game, golf is not your sport.

22 LoneWolf September 14, 2010 at 2:21 pm

I’ve thought about this very idea, designing courses so that the 3rd and 9th holes return to the clubhouse for each 9 would make this possible. It would be great for someone who just has an hour or so to pop out and do 6 holes.

There is the issue of traffic flow and most of the takers would be beginners, so there could be problems with it. But a course that has 3 nines could be set up with some sort of rotation that would make it work for those playing 9 or 18 as well as those who just want the 3 or 6. Much harder if you’ve just got 18 holes to work with.

23 george September 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm

These mini games are as dumb as the scoring for the Fed Ex Cup championship. Who needs a golfer playoff anyway?
If you want to bring in more players it’s the time it takes to play and the expense.
time can be handled by having marshalls that do their job, training novice golfers how to ride in a cart and leave their playing partner and go to their shot rather than waiting next to your partner to hit, not putting too many golfers on the course (tee times every 8 – 10 minutes, not 6), and perhaps offering better tee times based on handicaps. thankfully the only good thing about this economy is golf is getting less expensive (notice i didn’t say cheap).

24 George Mezori September 14, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Well.. if it costs more then to do say 6 holes… then why not pay for 9 and quit when you want? I don’t really see the merit in this idea. The economy isn’t that bad. Your average place is probably $20-$30 bucks for 18 holes. And as far as time goes I think 2 hours for 9 holes is good if you’re short on time.

25 Jim September 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Why anyone would want to play fewer than 9 holes (a program available at nearly every course) I don’t know. I don’t see any demand for a 3 -6 hole deal.

26 PHILIP KUAN September 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I think it is a very good idea to have 3. 6 or 9 holes options. I am a very busy person and I find that after 18 holes of play, a lot of energy spent, I could not concentrate on my work after that. I found that 9 holes or less is best for me. I want to think golfing is an relaxing exercise, light exercise before doing your work for the day and not spent almost 4, 5 or 6 hours to play an 18 holes.

27 mark w. September 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm

This idea does have a bit of currency: The Prestwick 12. It’s done by building 12 hole courses (the original Prestwick was 12, I think). The course has two 6 hole loops. You can play 6, 12 or 18. Less land, less time (if you opt for a shorter round).

28 judd September 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Want me to golf more?
Give me more pay once for a season options so that I can golf as much or as little as I want. With a season pass I can play 6 holes and walk off the course if I don’t have time.
However, most season passes are so expensive that if you buy one, you don’t want to play anywhere else because you want to get your money’s worth.
Grouping golf courses into a collective season pass that is affordable also would work really well because you could get the variety but play as much or as little as you wished . . . and if you didn’t have time for 18 or 9, you could still play a few holes on a lunch break or in the evening on your way home from work.
When I drive by a golf course during many hours of the day, I expect to see few playing. It seems a waste to me.
Also, I always assume that they make nearly 100% profit on carts, especially once they are paid for. If they would reduce cart prices, it would help a bunch for those who ride (which I don’t).

29 John A September 14, 2010 at 2:36 pm

For everyday play I wouldn’t be in favor of it, but I am heading to a resort area this week where I will be in meetings until 4:00 or 5:00. If I have time to only play 3 holes, I probably wouldn’t bother, but if a 6-hole option was available at a reduced rate, I would probably be interested. It is discouraging to only be offered a 9-hole rate when you know that 5 or 6 holes is all you have time to play.

From the golf course perspective, why not give it a try? The course is just sitting there unused in the later hours before dusk. If offering a 3 or 6 hole option would bring out a few more golfers and increase revenues, why not?

These super serious golfers for whom it is “18 holes or nothing” must have a lot more time on their hands than I do. Just for the record, I have a 7 hdcp and consider myself to be a serious golfer.

30 Chris Fleming September 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

Golf is unlike other sports. If one were to go out and play a touch football game on the weekend one would not get completely dressed in a full uniform including pads and a helmet and the pitted against a professional football player. If one were to play baseball on the weekend one would not be facing a professional pitcher throwing at 100 miles per hour. Golf, however, for the beginner is rather like that. He must play a regulation course which is simply much too difficult for him.

Near where I live in Riverside California there is a golf range that has an 18 hole part 3 course. People without a lot of time can simply get a few balls on the range or hit a few putts and chips. With a little more time a 9 hole round on the part 3 course would not take much time. Playing the par 3 course would not require all of the equipment. If resorts or municipal course this would have part 3 courses I think that this would attract people with less time and beginners.

When I was at Turnberry in Scotland they have a pitch and putt course which takes less than an hour to play. This was very popular and only requires a couple of clubs.

When I was at St. Andrew’s in Scotland and a have an 18-hole putting course. This was also quite popular and took only a little time.

I believe that pitch and putt courses and putting courses could be constructed very inexpensively and provide a good way to get people started in the game. They could then progress to part 3 courses, then to executive courses, and finally to full championship golf courses. It is silly to expect a beginner to enjoy themselves on a regulation golf course if they cannot even play a pitch and putt or putting course.

If courses and resorts would start putting in putting courses and pitch and putt courses I believe that more people would take advantage of it especially if they could be lighted at night. This would help increase the interest and allow people to participate without having to spend 5-6 hours on a golf course.

Christopher H. Fleming M.D.

31 Mike Bergevin September 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

sounds interesting for beginner or casual golfers, but I can’t see this being of interest to the serious golfers out there. I know I can’t double my score after 9 holes and consider it my 18 hole score, because part of the game is walking all 18 holes while keeping up your stamina and concentration. I’d be horribly frustrated shooting par over 6 holes wondering what I would have shot over 18?? Sorry, not for me.

32 Paul September 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

I don’t like the idea, and I don’t believe people would invest in all the overhead associated with playing golf on vacation for 3 or 6 holes. I just played some out of town golf last week and bringing my clubs along is a bit of a pain and it added $70 to my airfare. I was traveling with some other players, so we needed to rent a large SUV to carry all of our travel bags, more costs. We played 36 holes on two great tracks so it was worth it, but there is no way a couple of 3 or 6 hole rounds would have been worth the trouble.

33 joe luby September 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Stupid idea.

34 John Furgurson September 14, 2010 at 2:38 pm

Six hole golf courses are absolutely the right thing … better for the environment and better for the game. For years, the PGA of America has talked about “growing the game,” but they’ve done nothing about the five hours rounds that are the norm these days. Six holes makes it possible to play during your lunch break or after work. And when you go around three times, with different pins, you’ve got a postable 18-hole score. Not only that, it’s more appealing than executive courses, because you get to hit driver.

35 Rob Port September 14, 2010 at 2:40 pm

One of the lamest ideas I’ve ever seen. Going through the trouble to drive to a course and then only playing a few holes would be like coitus interruptus as far as I am concerned. The challenge of golf is being able to maintain concentration and shot making throughout a complete round. If you just want to practice a few holes, go to a driving range or pitch and putt.

36 Ron Hughes September 14, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Idea stinks! If you don’t want to play golf or don’t have the time for golf…don’t play!

37 Clyde Dennis September 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm

With the economy the way it is and so many people out of work you are seeing more golf courses lowering their fees to bring in more players to meet the courses expenses. I haven’t seen course fees this cheap at municipal and semi-private courses in as long as I have been playing. A lot of courses are offering even lower rates after 1:00 P.M. and as this should open up time for even beginning golfers to get out and play 3, 6, 9, 12, or 18 holes depending on the time they can start and thusly 6 or 12 hole courses would not be needed. (Bad Idea)

38 Nic Roggeman September 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm

I feel this is a possible service that an existing course could offer for those golfers who would rather play a few holes instead of going to a practice facility. I cannot see vibrant courses offering it during the course of the regular day, nor can I see them charging much more than a few buckets of balls. It would not appeal to me as I either play 18 holes or go to the range.

39 Bruce Wigder September 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm

You can come up with any plan you want. The bottom line is golf is too darn expensive. That is country wide, private and public. Until that changes (which it won’t), golf will be in trouble.

40 merritt September 14, 2010 at 4:27 pm

What the hey. Hitting ball after ball on the ole range is not the same as playing. Hit your bucket of balls , not to many to wear you out, then hit the course for 6 holes in about 40 minutes, sounds great to me. How good can that be to test what your working on, and not on a level surface for each shot. Sweet!!

41 Bob Devitz September 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm

I believe a 12 hole course is the future of golf. 18 hole w/travelling etc. takes practically a whole day. 12 holes for alot of people would be more manageable.

42 Ed September 14, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I belong to a private club and play 3 – 6 or 9 holes many times through the week before darkness. The industry need 12 hole courses, split into two 6 holes rounds. And by the way, a slightly bigger hole would solve the second thing deterring people playing golf, it would make the game easier and less time consuming, plus more fun.

43 Bryon Hughes September 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I would think this would cause enormous problems with the people trying to play 18 holes. How do they get worked in the rotation and/or have priority over someone showing up to play 18 holes. Sounds like a mess off the tee box, but the course would become wide open after the 3 or 6 hole people finish up.

44 mark September 14, 2010 at 5:16 pm

3, 6, 12, 15 or 18, the real issue is pace of play. In the age of gps, why don’t we upgrade the grouchy retiree with bad tatoo and/or squamus cells to have a system that tracks where all of the carts (Foursomes) are, how fast they’re moving and a software that can project where each will be in 10, 20, etc. minutes. I know how it is supposed to work on Saturdays and Sundays with the weekend warriors on the average public tract going off like airplanes, but how often does that break down. You want to start on a hole other than 1 or 10, let me check the “big board”? You like having nobody in front of you? Nobody behind you? You want to play fewer than 9 or 18, here’s what we can do for you now and how much it will cost. Much like the comment about being a member of a private club but on a public course. Problems would include the fact that the average public course has no idea how each and every swinging ying-yang is going to perform on a time basis. Maybe we could have the tardy or errant carts identified and immobilized for easy removal.

45 Dave September 14, 2010 at 5:26 pm

More incredibly stupid ideas with the sole interest of making more money. Right up there with the riding golf cart.
Golf is 18 holes. Fine.. play nine hole leagues. But what happens when I’m in the middle of my 18 hole match only to be slowed up by Gus and his girlfriend taking their lunch-break to play 3 holes? NOW how long is my round going to take?
And how’s the starter suppose to keep track of all this?
Keep it simple. Play the ball as it lies , and play it for 18 holes. (And while you’re at it get a caddie and let the kid learn the game the right way.)

46 John Carroll September 14, 2010 at 5:43 pm

The real problem with golf is the lack of young people playing the game. I belong to a club with about 350 members which has 10 members younger than 30 who are active players. Having 3 or 6 hole rounds is hardly likely to address this problem.

47 Holly September 14, 2010 at 5:46 pm

First, playing 3, 6 or 9 holes does not reduce the time to get to the course and back. It doesn’t reduce the time to warm up.

And golf courses are not designed in three or six hole segments, so playing them that way will be a less than satisfying experience, at least for a person who plays the game.

All in all, not a good way to make golf take less time.

48 Mike September 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

No thanks, I would hit balls on the practice area instead of an abbreviated round of three or six holes.

49 John September 14, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Unlike most people i dont get many chances to play so when I do I want to playa full 18 not a mini round which for me would not be worth the time or gasit would take to get there. the game needs, to be made more affordable for the average golfer.

50 justin September 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I would endorse the idea although I am not sure how the course management would regulate this. I am more supportive of the 6 hole feature but would only want this on a legitimate course. I don’t want to golf an executive course or a track that is in bad shape. If you offer me a good price for 6 holes in twilight hours at a good course, that is an option i would definitely consider after work to ease the nerves and get home in time for dinner.

51 Andrew Mayes September 14, 2010 at 8:04 pm

So many of the responses are really missing the boat. The “serious golfer” only wants to play 18 holes. It is the only way that a round feels legitimate. But the six hole option (in an hour and fifteen minutes) as a mid week practice option that many serious golfers should embrace. If you have time, the range and 6 hole combination works even better as a practice tool. The three hole option has very limited appeal or utility, not even for beginners.

The primary reason for this whole discussion is that golf courses are expensive to build, not especially profitable (more money is made on merchandise, food and golf cart rentals) and they are becoming increasingly empty. “We” need to get more people on the courses that already exist which will require more creative thinking and more flexibility on the part of course managers. Nine hole packages off the back nine early in the morning have finally caught on at many
courses. Better instruction and enforcement of the proper pace of play needs to become a priority at all courses. Monetary penalties for slow play need to be commonly established and enforced. (required electronic sensors per foursome or on carts) Convincing people to play a ball that they can afford to lose and not spend fifteen minutes looking for it.
The six hole options could be very effective but would need to be closely monitored and coordinated. Specific windows of this specific package’s availability. (ie The slowest time of the day, usually midweek). An eighteen hole course could be broken up into three sets of six (depending on layout) or two sets at the least (holes 1,2,3, 7,8,9) (10,11,12,16,17,18). The goal is to get more people to visit the course, enjoy golf and build up the number of nationwide and worldwide players.
Additionally, the grouping of numerous courses into playing memberships, with unlimited monthly or yearly play would make this concpets work much better. It does have merit, but needs serious coordination.

52 Steve Wood September 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I think it is a good idea if courses manage it properly. For me, golf by definition is 18-holes. Unfortunately, there is way too much slow play, so 18 holes can sometimes be agony. This option might pull some of the people who have no business playing 18 holes into an off hours short round of golf, and give some others who only want to “see if they’d like it” an option that doesn’t inconvenience other regular players.
What is really needed is charging by the hour to play golf. If a golf property needs $40/round to make a profit and the expectation is a 4 hr round. You play for 4 hrs. You only made it to the 14th hole? Too bad, so sad, you’re done. Following groups who kept up can keep on playing. Need to know how to play fast/ready golf? Sign up for a workshop, your sign up fee applies toward a round of golf and maybe a free gift. Most slow players don’t know they’re slow, and don’t know how to correct it.

53 John September 14, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Real bad idea. What about rangers that actually move slow play? What an idea!

54 Andy September 14, 2010 at 10:53 pm

I would think this would create congestion for those of us who plan accordingly to play either 9 or 18 holes. If one doesn’t have the time to play golf as the game is played throughout the world, then hit a par 3 or executive course. Nine on an exec is could take less time than 6 regular holes. If you only want to play 6 of those 9 (about the time of 3 regular holes), the loss isn’t that much and it helps your short game immensely. Many execs/par 3′s have ranges nearby and you can hit the big boys afterward, if you have time. Golf is a fun game, but it takes time and dedication. If you don’t have the time to invest, then maybe another sport may work better.

55 Susan Krancer September 15, 2010 at 4:22 am

In theory, fewer holes will cost less money and take less time, so you would think it would make golf more attractive to a lot of people. It is too expensive, and it does take too long. However, if a course offering 3 and 6 hole options is successful in attracting the new golfers, it will likely lose the serious golfers. They will not want to play on a course that caters to the newbies. This will result in longer rounds of golf for the players who want to play 18 holes.

Look at it from another angle… a 9 hole option is available now at most courses. How popular is playing 9 holes? Not very.

56 Doug September 15, 2010 at 6:09 am

This is like foreplay with no sex, bad idea….

57 steven polevoy September 15, 2010 at 6:14 am

golf at even the muny level is a time consuming and expensive game. a person who works, has kids and other obligations might not have the time for 18 or even 9 holes. why not allow a “quickie” as it were, on the way home once or twice a week? how about the beginner who is not sure that he or she even cares for the game? 3 holes or 6 holes might be just the small taste needed to turn that person into the golf junkie all of us have become. golf needs new blood. keep it in the late afternoon and it would be a good thing for the game.

58 sparky September 15, 2010 at 8:58 am

The only thing you have to do to cut time down is get people to realize you don’t have to make that 1 foot putt. Another option to speed up play is get those people out of the bush that spend 10 minutes looking for their golf ball. I am sure it is not the cost of the ball keeping these people in the bush but the two strokes for lost ball. What could be done is take a drop where the ball entered the bush instead of reteeing or going back to the tee box after not finding the ball

59 Bruce Lea September 15, 2010 at 9:10 am

The head pro at Rivermont in John’s Creek, GA, a suburb of Atlanta, had an interesting editorial in the GSGA’s magazine a few months ago with some very creative ideas about how to offer limited hole (e.g. 3 or 6) options for kids with parents as a less expensive, less time consuming way to get youngsters involved in the game. His primary goal with these ideas would be to get kids interested in the game. One idea if I recall correctly was a time period on Saturday morning, say 8:00-9:00, when they could tee off on hole #15 or 16. They would be finished well before even the earliest/fastest players reached those holes, assuming tee times all started at #1. I can’t remember all the details, but if you contact him, I’m sure he’ll forward the article to you. His last name is Cupit, brother of former tour player Jackie Cupit, and he may be current president of the GSGA.

60 Kit Shay September 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

The reponces to this post were so many that I didn’t wade through them all, however, those that I did failed to mention that if this is to be a way to bring new blood into the game, perhaps the ideal solution would be to build a “12 hole course”. Players could opt to play 6,12 or 18 holes. Instead of it being an “after 5pm” affair, it could be a complete format played at anytime of day. It would be a bit of a problem for those opting to play 18 holes for the starter, but what they hay, I’m sure it could be worked out by balancing it with the 6 hole players. Course costs and maintenance costs would be reduced and therefore ideal for community courses that are cash strapped. Now, I can jump in to play a short six without backing up the course for the 18 hole players and we can still bring new blood into the game that would hopefully move on to the regular format of 9 or 18 holes provided for on regular courses. Just my 2 cents.

61 Larry Schneider September 15, 2010 at 11:22 am

If anything 9 holes minimum. Playing 9 in our mind is fine but 3 or 6 – not really.

62 matt September 15, 2010 at 11:25 am

This isn’t an experienced golfer issue (real golf is just fine at 18 holes); rather it’s a concern from course owners about declining revenue. If I were building a course today, I absolutely would consider a 12 hole course. And I would cater to families, couples, and beginners or those with limited time. If you want to play a real course, 18 holes, and count it toward your USGA handicap, don’t come to my course. Catering to a different audience, I would adjust some things to help speed up play. Not charging extra for a cart, creating a ‘gimmie circle’ around each hole, no sand traps, consider all out of bounds as lateral hazards, no undulating greens or blind shots. Furthermore, you could have designated periods for ‘speed rounds’, have course records for fastest rounds played, etc. And when someone wants to play a real round of golf, they can go to a regular course.

63 Jeremy Angel September 15, 2010 at 11:29 am

I am a member of a 9 hole muni course. The way the course is layed out I can play 4 holes and have a short walk in. This gives me the opportunity to play some golf even if I only have an hour of free time . I probably do this about once a week.

64 Dick September 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I, and most of the golfers I know would not vote positive on this!

65 David Shults September 15, 2010 at 9:10 pm

For many years I have thought a change in format for some golf courses would be interesting and useful. My idea would be to have a 13 hole course in which the first hole was for warm up, and then there would be a front six and back six. Most muni golfers don’t warm up, and even warming up doesn’t get you into the swing of the course. The first hole should be wide open with no rough or bunkers. Golfers could hit two balls (most do off the first tee anyway), and then putt from a couple of places on the green. Practice greens don’t always reflect the speed of the greens on the course. Once this warm up was over, a 12 hole round would commence. Advantages: 1. faster round 2. less watering 3. less maintenance
4. less land used

66 Brian Lowe September 16, 2010 at 1:07 am

I think 6-hole option is a great idea especially for people with younger families. 18- and even 9- holes take too much time for one or both partners. It is easier to schedule the time for 6- holes which will keep the younger players involved (a necessity for the future of the game).

67 Bill Parker September 18, 2010 at 6:10 pm

If I can’t enjoy 18 holes, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of lacing up my shoes. Bad idea.

68 Mark September 19, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Excellent idea. I just returned from a short vacation where the primary mission was golf but there many other things to do (alone and with my spouse). Played 18 once, but shorter versions two other times, both to save time and $. The short versions were fine — gave me a chance to check out the course and its condition, as well as hit a few balls and stretch my legs. I think this idea will catch on. PS I am a lifelong, traditional golfer, but unless we attract new players the game will continue to stagnate.

69 John C September 20, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Poor idea from a safety point of view. How do these folks get off the course without causing delays or running against the traffic of those trying to play 9 or 18? Also a policing nightmare for the course; pay for 3 and keep playing until they kick you off. If people want to play an hour or so of evening golf, find a pitch and putt.

70 Bill Emmons February 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

I routinely play 6 holes at our home course, and several times a month will work for an hour or so on my short area and then play three holes “coming back in” (our short area is in a far corner of the club.)

After work, 6 holes, 90-100 minutes of golf is about right, although I know for others the number is 36 . . .

But I’m glad that is an option – something I frequently mention as one of the biggest advantages of joining a private club (with a great driving range and short area).

71 TL January 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Great option–at an adjusted rate for public tracks.
In the summer when it stays light ’til late, many individuals just can’t juggle work, family and 9 after work into their schedule, but a “late evening ” 5 or 6 hole walk works great, usually satisfies the golf craving, and helps keep the game sharp. I belong to a quirky private club where 9 doesn’t return to the clubhouse, and the closest way back home is from the 5th green. We all do this all the time!!! If one of us happens to be playing great, we’ll keep going, and finish 9, knowing we’ll finish in the dark but……even if we only play five, we still got to play a few holes that day!!!

72 Bob Doria July 24, 2014 at 10:53 pm

As the professional and GM of Makefield Highlands the 3 and 6 hole option was designed solely to give that early evening golfer the opportunity to take it from the range to the course. This is only available after 5:30pm and since the design of the course has both the 3rd and 6th holes returning back toward the club house why not reduce the price and utilize open capacity in the early evening. This is also where we direct the beginners to come out, offer $1 per hole to juniors accompanied by an adult (we also have USKids family golf tees). This has been very successful in bringing new players to the game and giving beginners a chance to get on the course without slowing down play.

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