Many readers will be aware that I usually avoid anything to do with handicapping systems as, unlike the Rules of Golf, there are many different systems in use around the golf playing world and I have no expertise in this area. However, following my May blog I realise that many readers were unaware that 9-hole competitions can count for handicapping purposes. It is my belief that this is one important way, in those countries where golf club membership is in decline, to attract a new breed of players and encourage existing members to play more often. More of that later. Here are the references that I have found for the five main golf-playing regions, showing that player’s handicaps can be adjusted when they play in 9-hole qualifying competitions;
USGA HANDICAP SYSTEMThis is taken from the USGA promotional material;
Section 5 Scores
c. Posting Nine-Hole Scores
CONGU UNIFIED HANDICAPPING SYSTEM (UK and Ireland)
Part 4 Handicapping
Nine-Hole Qualifying Competitions
EUROPEAN GOLF ASSOCIATION
Adjusted 9-score for handicapping - clause 3.10.3
GOLF AUSTRALIA - GA HANDICAP SYSTEM
From 23 January 2014, changed 9-hole and Incomplete Score Regulations. GOLF Link will store a player’s 9-hole score for automatic combination with their next 9-hole score.
SOUTH AFRICAN GOLF HANDICAPPING SYSTEM
5.1 All scores
Scores must be entered on the SAGA Handicapping System for all 18-hole and 9-hole rounds …
“As you know, PLAY9 Day was introduced by the USGA at the 2014 U.S. Open Championships to rally golfers of all skill and interest levels around the 9-hole round as a popular way to inspire more play. There’s a lot to love about golf. The PLAY9 movement represents a new and exciting approach to encouraging golf participation that is gaining traction. In a recent study conducted by Sports & Leisure Group, 60% of golfers perceive the 9-hole round as a great way to introduce non-golfers to the game, while the year over year number of 9-hole rounds posted in June and July increased by 13% from 2013 to 2014.”And here are nine good reasons, courtesy of USGA, why Clubs should embrace 9-hole qualifying competitions;
1. Nine-hole golf has an impeccable pedigree. The First U.S. Open in 1895 was played on a nine-hole course: Newport (R.I.) Golf Club. Arnold Palmer and Pete Dye, among other golf luminaries, learned the game on nine-hole courses.Please help me to spread the word by supporting this initiative to promote more 9-hole qualifying competitions, for the good of golf. I will leave you with this observation from Jerry Tarde, Chairman of Golf Digest;
2. The majority can’t be wrong. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), 90 percent of U.S. golf facilities offer nine-hole rates – and 4,200 nine-hole courses dot the U.S. golf landscape. From coast to coast, playing nine is an easy way to enjoy the game.
3. It’s an excellent way to start the day. Early risers can make the first footprints on a dewy fairway. You can get a round in and still make it to work or school on time.
4. It’s a great way to end the day with others. Grab friends and co-workers for a post-work round to shake off the stress.
5. Because it’s what you have time for. Would you rather play nine frequently or wait until the moon and stars align to play 18? Keep your game fresh by playing nine.
6. It’s a wonderful way to learn the game. An NGF study shows 86 percent of beginners start with nine-hole rounds. You can more comfortably develop your game and learn Rules and etiquette without the stress and time commitment of 18 holes.
7. It’s the best way to support someone who is learning how to play. You already love the game. A study by Sports & Leisure Research Group revealed that 60 percent of golfers believe a nine-hole round is an outstanding way to introduce a non-golfer to the game. Give back to the game and get a friend or family member hooked.
8. You can do it forever. Golf is a game for a lifetime. Playing nine holes is the perfect way to keep players of all ages and abilities engaged in friendly competition.
9. Your nine-hole round is legit! The USGA’s Golf Handicap Information Network® (GHIN) showed a 13 percent year-over-year increase in nine-hole scores posted in the two months following the program’s launch last July. You can post a nine-hole score to maintain your Handicap Index.
"Every other recreation, it seems, takes two hours: movies, dinner, cocktail parties, tennis, bowling, going to the gym. If golf were invented today, it would be a nine-hole game. By no means are we questioning 18 holes, but our culture dictates shorter blocks of free time. I'd rather squeeze in nine holes than none."Good golfing,
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