There have been several articles in national golf publications recently about a trend toward 9-hole play. The theory is that a full 18 holes takes most of your day, and that might be a deterrent to some. A reduced fee for nine holes might draw more people into the game.
It is not an issue at private clubs, where a member pays monthly dues and tees it up for as many holes as he or she wants. But it is a tricky question at public courses that exist on the per-round fee.
There is no law that says you can’t play nine holes, or six or 12 or whatever you like. At most courses, though you still pay the full 18-hole greens fee.Courses want more golfers coming out to play, and a reduced 9-hole deal might do that. But the courses need the 18-hole revenue and cart fees to make ends meet.
“The PGA is promoting the 9-hole thing and charging less to play nine. The feeling is that the time to play a full round is affecting the growth of the game, maybe keeping some people away,” said Brent Brown, general manager at Avery Ranch. “We have considered giving 9-hole rates in the past, and a lot more people are starting to ask about it. It’s something we will continue to address.”
Austin’s municipal courses do not offer 9-hole rates, but, like most courses, there are reduced twilight rates. But it’s not the same thing. You want to play nine holes on a Saturday morning, you pay the full fee.
“The 9-hole reduced rate is something we have talked about a lot in the past, and I’m sure it will continue to be an issue,” said Kevin Gomillion, Austin’s division manager for golf. “It gets to be a logistical problem with people stopping after nine or going off the back nine and creating gaps.
“One of our goals is for our courses to be self-sufficient, and that means getting a lot of people out there,” Gomillion said, implying that they need a lot of people out there paying a full 18-hole fee. “But we realize that we need to attract more golfers and that the time factor is important, so a 9-hole rate is something we will continue to consider.
“We have talked to people at courses all over the place and the opinions on this are all over the map,” Gomillion said. “There just is not one, easy answer.”
I spent a couple of hours at Clay/Kizer last weekend and asked several golfers what they thought about a reduced 9-hole rate. Among the answers were:
- “I only get out to play a couple times a month, so I’m going to play 18. But I can see where the option with a 9-hole rate would be attractive to a lot of people.”
- “I think I would really like it in the summer where it’s hard for me to last 18 holes in 100-degree heat.”
- “I think it would be great, especially for a family with little kids who can’t go a full 18. It’s something to think about.”
FedEx Cup: Three former Longhorns are in the field at the Barclays in Jersey City, N.J. which kicks off the season-ending FedEx Cup. The top 125 in the FedEx points race are in the field, and that includes Jordan Spieth (No. 8), Justin Leonard (No. 91) and Bob Estes of Austin (No. 94).
After this weekend’s play, the points are figured again and the top 100 move on to the Deutsche Bank Championship outside of Boston. Then the top 70 advance to the BMW Championship in Lake Forest, Ill. Finally, the top 30 play in the Tour Championship Sept. 19-22 at East Lake Colf Club in Atlanta.