Time to think in 6’s instead of 9’s

Opinion – Time to think in 6’s instead of 9’s

Jack Nicklaus has likely forgotten more about the game of golf than I will ever know.  And with 5 or even 6 hour rounds becoming more prevalent on and off the PGA tour, he has proposed 12-hole rounds as an alternative, for recreational golfers anyway.  Golf is a very conservative pastime; change is slow, often deliberate and invariably well after its’ due.  And with national golf governing bodies feeling some fiduciary responsibility to grow the game, perhaps the deep thinkers simply need to have a conversation with Mr. Nicklaus.

Ask anyone who has played the game and they know a round of golf to include 2 sets of nine holes, an outward and inward nine, or a front and back. Personally, I’d be more of an advocate for golf being a 36-hole experience, but I am biased.  Let’s think more of Mr. Nicklaus’ idea.  12 holes is not necessarily such a radical plan, but likely is one which our planning bodies likely shudder at.  At the core of his argument, and why I support it, are two critical issues – increased participation and reducing the time required to play.  I base this on experience; my wife likes to play golf once or twice a year but gets tired and bored after…about 12 holes.

I see opportunities for public courses to consider operating two or three sets of 6 holes than it is more likely we could zip out after dinner on a Tuesday for a quick 6 holes, or, on a weekend with friends, a chance to play 12. With this format it is possible to sneak in 6 over lunch.  For diehards like myself, I could play my traditional round of 18, or, time permits I can sneak in another 6.  All this needs is a recalibration of our thinking…6 instead of 9.  Traditionalists can still get their 18 (or 36) holes in, and we can create space for social golfers who enjoy the game but shudder at the idea of a commitment of time and energy to play 18.

Let’s not overthink this. And more important, let’s listen to Mr. Nicklaus.  He knows a few things about this game we love.

The idea is not new. Derrydale in Mississauga, Ontario, has made the decision to alter their course to a 12 hole layout.  Also, Westwood Plateau in Coquitlam, BC, has a 12 hole Executive course too.


5 thoughts on “Time to think in 6’s instead of 9’s

  1. That’s a great idea. – 12 holes is definitely my limit – would also make it cheaper which is a concern for many – I also pay for holes I don’t play or care about – make it happen.

    • Thanks for the reply, Reag. I appreciate the support for the idea and am flattered you feel I have such influence! Seriously, I suspect you’re not alone in thinking 18 holes is simply too much – time, money, etc..

  2. I don’t know. I think if you market your course for the specific reasons you stated that would be fine. It shouldn’t take 4 1/2 hours to play 18 if you can play the game – or I should say ‘know’ how to play the game. Let’s face it, most of us don’t play tournaments where there are specific rules and regulations that need to be adhered too. Most of us get together to play with friends and work colleagues for fun. 12 holes might be good for people who don’t like the idea of playing 18 or who aren’t good enough to play 18 but enjoy the outing.

    I’m like you Mike. The more the merrier – but when I get stuck behind people who obviously shouldn’t be playing on the type of course that I’m on, that’s what gets me going. Know your limits and enjoy them. Don’t beat yourself up over the sake of a game.

    Mike – are these courses true executive courses or will you need a full set of clubs to play?

    • Andy, you raise many points which reflect the complexity of this issue. I completely agree however that courses need to market themselves appropriately and players need to play appropriate courses, or at the very least the right set of tees. The rationale for me is to expand the pool of players – add more social players, but also create space for a ‘quick six’. Maybe that’s why I’m playing better this year…I have stopped taking myself so seriously and am really focused on fun. As for these execs, I know Derrydale allows someone to use alot of their clubs, likely not all. But as you say, market appropriately and manage expectation. The ‘slow game’ debate needs more of a solutions approach, as does the ‘grow the game’ conversation. I simply think Jack Nicklaus may be on to something.

  3. Yes… I think Jack is right, however, you’re going to have to target a whole other set of people. It’s a neat idea – especially if it were to take bad golfers off of good courses! That would speed up play.

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