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Time for Nine

 

Katherine Steenson (Co Armagh), Picture by Pat Cashman

The introduction of the R&A’s Nine Hole Championship in 2016 has seen an influx of interest in 9 hole golf and 9 hole qualifying competitions across the country. Providing 9 hole competitions to club members establishes a host of benefits while also responding to the changing needs of the game and golf club members. Over 250 ladies golf club committees have requested a 9 hole Standard Scratch Score (SSS) Certificate from the ILGU since 9 hole qualifying was introduced, while approximately 160 clubs have entered the Nine Hole Championship for 2017.

The aim of 9 hole golf is to offer the opportunity for club members to play competitive golf in less time – allowing members, who are short of time, to stay involved in the club, increase enjoyment and maintain their handicap.

Nine hole competitions can be played by anyone, whether you are new to the game, find 18 holes too challenging or simply have less time than you used to. Milltown Golf Club in Dublin have run successful 9 hole competitions and Ladies Secretary Sarah Brophy explained why “Milltown started running 9 hole qualifying competitions in 2015 in order to encourage working ladies to play at lunchtime or after the 18 hole competitions when light was an issue. The 9 hole competitions are run alongside the 18 holes, we have a one hour slot on our Tuesday timesheet for those who opt to play 9 on that day – the ladies who want to play after work can also choice to do so if they wish.”

Nine hole qualifying competitions are run in a slightly different fashion to 18 hole competitions. A 9 hole SSS is calculated and it is important to note that 9 hole competitions cannot be run without this. This SSS is used to calculate the shot allowance for each player for 9 holes dependent on their exact handicap. All 9 hole competitions must be played in stableford format, a neutral 18 points is awarded for the 9 holes not played and is added to the 9 hole stableford score to determine whether players have played within, or better than, their Buffer Zones. For handicap purposes, when a player fails to return a score within their buffer zone the points accumulated over the 9 holes played is doubled – this provides a more realistic indication of ability for handicap review. Further information can be found on page 47-48 of the CONGU manual and clubs are encouraged to share information on 9 hole golf with their members. “At the beginning in Milltown, participation was not very high in our 9 hole competitions but as members become more familiar with the option and understood how they operate they are beginning to take off. Our working members are delighted with the option and will still try and play 18 if they can,” revealed Sarah Brophy.

Co. Louth Golf Club also have introduced successful 9 hole qualifiers for the “time poor” members; “Primarily, our 9 hole competitions attract our higher handicap members or beginners; especially those who are working or have been recovering from illness” explained Lady Captain Jackie Quinn, “we are welcoming 25 new members and 45 ladies through the CGI Get into Golf programme this year so we foresee the 9 hole competitions being very popular with these ladies!

The golf bodies of Great Britain and Ireland are encouraging their members to get involved in 9 hole golf as a quick and enjoyable way to play golf either socially or competitively.A digital video campaign including PGA, European and Ladies European Tour players Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Mattero Manassero, Catriona Matthew, Charley Hull and Melissa Reid was launched last summer which can be followed by searching #PlayNine.

 

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