Many golfers today deem golf as an 18-hole game, but things were much different in the past. In fact, three decades ago, 9-hole courses in the US were very common.
In the late 20th century, golf boomed in America particularly when real estate golf course developments started appearing everywhere. Most of these new courses were 18 holes. Since the sport was extremely popular at the time, the 18-hole received an unofficial status as “the real golf.” Not long after, the 5-hour round of golf became the norm.
It can’t be denied that golf is no longer as popular as it was back then. Time and expense have always been the two major complaints about golf, so people have slowly began to realize that going back to the 9-hole round might make a lot more sense.
The USGA even made modifications to the handicaps rules making 9-hole handicaps legal. Before that, 2 rounds of 9-hole golf were combined to produce an 18-hole score.
But just so we’re clear, the 18-hole round of golf isn’t going away. There’s simply an effort to bring back the 9-hole round because it is a cheaper and faster option for golfers.
Advantages of 9 Holes and 18 Holes
What makes 9 holes desirable for golfers is that you can snuck in a game after a day in the office and still be able to finish it in time for dinner. You can argue however that an 18-hole round ends too quickly. The fun is shortened, especially for people who have only played 18 holes and never a 9-hole. For players who need a bit of time to warm up, playing an 18-hole at the Preserve Golf Club may also be a good fit.
Another consideration is that when it comes to the use of time, a practice round of 9-holes will help you play golf faster and better than 2 hours of hitting the ball on the range. The range experience cannot duplicate the conditions on an actual course.
9 and 18 Hole Handicaps
Golf Handicaps are computed for 18-hole rounds. For 9 hole rounds a Handicap Index is called N. To calculate this handicap use the 9 holes course rating you played and apply the same formula for 18 hole Handicaps. The handicap ranges are 0-18 and not the usual 0-36.
Pros and Cons of 18 Holes
- Pro: Traditional
There’s a lot of history going for the 18 holes, and if you ask anyone how long a round of golf is, they’ll tell you “it’s 18 holes!”
- Pro: More Fun
More holes means more fun. People play golf because it’s something they love to do so spending more time on the fairway is always a good idea.
- Con: Time Consuming
Playing a full 18-hole round averages 4-5 hours which is a lot of time for someone who is busy.
Pros and Cons of 9 Holes
- Pro: Quicker
The nine-hole courses are much quicker and easier to navigate. It should not take more than 2 hours to play a round, making it a lot easier to fit into your busy schedule.
- Pro: Easy to Manage
If you struggle with walking for long periods then 18 holes might be too taxing. A gentler nine-hole round is considered a lot more manageable.
- Con: Doesn’t Impact Handicap
Playing a 9-hole round won’t immediately feed into your handicap. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be counted at all – it just requires extra work.
If you’re deciding on the right course for you, understand that it all depends largely on personal choice. Traditional 18 holes is definitely more attractive, and you can play at a leisurely pace. For others, 9 holes is more preferred for their lifestyle as it requires much less time and can be better fitted into a busy schedule.