Let's face it, the only reason we play 18 holes is because that's how many holes there are at the Old Course in St. Andrews. But there's no reason we have to be hung up on playing 18 or nothing, so last year the USGA introduced the "Play9" initiative. The second annual Play9 takes place today, so grab your sticks after work and head out to the course. Here are the USGA's nine reasons why:
1. Nine-hole golf has an impeccable pedigree. The First U.S. Open in 1895 was played on a nine-hole course: Newport (R.I.) Golf Club. Arnold Palmer and Pete Dye, among other golf luminaries, learned the game on nine-hole courses.
2. The majority can’t be wrong. According to the National Golf Foundation (NGF), 90 percent of U.S. golf facilities offer nine-hole rates – and 4,200 nine-hole courses dot the U.S. golf landscape. From coast to coast, playing nine is an easy way to enjoy the game.
3. It’s an excellent way to start the day. Early risers can make the first footprints on a dewy fairway. You can get a round in and still make it to work or school on time.
4. It’s a great way to end the day with others. Grab friends and co-workers for a post-work round to shake off the stress.
5. Because it’s what you have time for. Would you rather play nine frequently or wait until the moon and stars align to play 18? Keep your game fresh by playing nine.
6. It’s a wonderful way to learn the game. An NGF study shows 86 percent of beginners start with nine-hole rounds. You can more comfortably develop your game and learn Rules and etiquette without the stress and time commitment of 18 holes.
7. It’s the best way to support someone who is learning how to play. You already love the game. A study by Sports & Leisure Research Group revealed that 60 percent of golfers believe a nine-hole round is an outstanding way to introduce a non-golfer to the game. Give back to the game and get a friend or family member hooked.
8. You can do it forever. Golf is a game for a lifetime. Playing nine holes is the perfect way to keep players of all ages and abilities engaged in friendly competition.
9. Your nine-hole round is legit! The USGA’s Golf Handicap Information Network® (GHIN) showed a 13 percent year-over-year increase in nine-hole scores posted in the two months following the program’s launch last July. You can post a nine-hole score to maintain your Handicap Index.