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 – opportunity for 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.
If public courses were 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.
Clearly I am not the first person to think this way either. A 2015 Canadian National Golf Facilities report identified that there were 3 6-hole courses and 9 12-hole courses which exist in Canada. Data from this same report shows Canada – with over 2300 courses – holds 7% of the world’s golf courses. In fact, more than 1/3 of our course supply is 9-hole courses. In my province of Ontario, there are 6 facilities which are 12-hole courses, yes, 6! The idea is not new, but in my opinion it is a damn good one.
Let’s not overthink this. And more important, let’s listen to Mr. Nicklaus. He knows a few things about this game we love.
Follow Mike on Twitter @36aday
Golf writer and blogger at 36aday.net. Seeking to cross courses off my Canadian course bucket list. One ace! Proud father. GJAC Associate.
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