The nights are long, there is warmth in the air (yes, it’s true!) and the welcoming, manicured fairways of your local golf club are a persuasive pull.
But you don’t have time for golf, your life is too hectic juggling family and work commitments and something simply has to give. You’ll come back to the sport or take it up one day… so you say.
Of course, for many such golfers or those looking to take up the sport, there is an answer – nine-hole golf or similar shorter formats. Golf isn’t reinventing the wheel with its current advocacy of nine-hole activity, Scotland boasts over 150 nine-hole layouts after all, but this fun, fast form has perhaps been overlooked at times.
That has all changed in recent years, notably due to the fact you can now play in nine-hole competitions for handicap purposes. Teeing it up after the children have gone to bed to compete in a quick nine-hole medal over 90 minutes is simply a God-send for some. For others, playing a social nine with friends or family on a glorious summer evening is equally bliss.
And where better than Perthshire to do it! From Comrie to Crieff, Milnathort to Muthill and St Fillans to Strathtay, the region boasts SEVENTEEEN nine-hole layouts. If you add in Culcrieff at Crieff Hydro Hotel (reduced to six holes this year), the options are boundless.
Aligned to Golf Perthshire’s new family initiative, where golfers under the age of 18 can enjoy free golf in Perthshire with a green fee-paying adult, there is wonderful incentive for beginners to start their golfing adventures over nine holes or for families to enjoy a round in the area.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, a three-time European Tour winner, is a huge advocate of the format. “Obviously, the time element is so massive these days that I think two hours, for getting to the course, playing the holes and getting back is enough for people,” says the 35-year-old.
“Nine-hole golf fits into a nice time slot and I think it’s also something kids enjoy, keeping their attention for that amount of time. Personally, I have a two-year-old daughter, Olivia, and I know time is really sensitive, especially at weekends. If you have two or three kids, it can get tough for time. Clubs have got to provide a product that people will buy into that fits with their lifestyles. For me, I totally believe that nine holes is the way forward.”
Figures releases earlier this season show nine-hole golf is well on the rise across the UK, with Scottish Golf, for example, reporting a 30% increase in nine hole competitive scores returned between 2016 and 2017 (30,021 to 39,107).
Perthshire’s nine-hole courses all hold great appeal, offering gentle beginner tests to more demanding challenges. All boast easy distractions, mind you, such are the scenic views you will regularly encounter. Milnathort has enjoyed its chance to shine in the national spotlight this year, hosting Scotland’s 9 Hole Championship Final as part of The R&A’s initiative. Such was the interest, over 170 clubs signed up for Milnathort, with the final extended to a second day.
“There are a lot of nine-hole courses out there, while even the modern courses are set up with loops of nine that come back to the clubhouse,” adds Ramsay. “I think it’s a great introduction to the game. There is no real pressure, nobody is trying to break course records, everybody is out to participate in golf, to enjoy it, and to get a taste for it.”
With the longest day of the year just around the corner, on Thursday 21 June, it’s the perfect opportunity for nine-hole golf. So isn’t it time you found the time for nine…? #timefor9
Perthshire’s 9-Hole Courses
The discounted West Perthshire Golf Pass offers 54 holes on selected courses for only £50.00. Click on West Perthshire Golf Pass for more information.
Follow the link to discover more details on the Golf Perthshire Family Golf Initiative.