R&A FINDS TIME FOR
IT WAS ABOUT TIME – in more ways than one – when the R&A announced it will hold its rst nine-hole championship for amateurs the Saturday prior to this year’s Open at Royal Troon (shown). R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, who considers his primary challenge reversing declining participation, cited data from the governing body showing 60 percent of golfers would enjoy the sport more if it took less time.
More specifically, 21 percent of golfers age 25-44 who are unhappy with the pace of play would like to see the time for an 18-hole round reduced by as much as 90 minutes.The easy alternative, of course, is to encourage more golfers to play ninehole rounds.
Yet for all the public-service announcements and “Play 9” events created by the R&A (and the USGA in the United States) endeavouring to show how less can be more, one of the game’s primary stakeholders needed to establish a premier event to truly legitimise nine-hole golf as an acceptable format of play and competition.
The R&A’s e orts will start small: 30 competitors in the rst year qualifying from events held at the 13 Regional Qualifying venues throughout Great Britain and Ireland. We’ll give them extra credit for shrewdly deciding to use the same venue as the Open to give the initiative more buzz. It will help in the collective consideration of nine holes as more than just a “half round.”