Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Inside the Ropes -

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.”

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