The new initiative begins at Troon where golfers can play short nine hole handicap-qualifying competitions.
The R&A is giving golfers the opportunity to play nine holes at Royal Troon on Saturday 9th July on the eve of the 145th Open Championship.
It’s all part of an initiative by the R&A to give its support for nine hole competitive golf.
They new championship is designed to show golfers that the game can still be played competitively for handicap purposes over a short nine hole format.
The inaugural event for amateurs will be played on the Saturday before the Open, giving the players the opportunity to play nine holes at the historic Ayrshire links on the eve of The 145th Open.
In 2017, the event will be expanded to cover golf clubs in Great Britain and Ireland with players being given the opportunity to qualify at nine hole events held by The R&A’s affiliated national associations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Padraig Harrington, two-time Champion Golfer of the Year and R&A Working for Golf Ambassador, welcomed the initiative. “People who want to play golf are increasingly struggling to find the time to play and so positioning nine hole golf as a legitimate alternative makes a lot of sense,” he said.
“I’m really pleased to see The R&A taking the lead in this area.
“For regular amateur golfers to be able to play The Open venue in championship condition immediately before the best players in the world is a fantastic initiative and I’m sure this new competitive format will encourage more people to get out on the golf course and play nine hole golf.”
The R&A’s extensive survey on pace of play and the subsequent Time for Golf conference in St Andrews last November highlighted the challenges many people face in finding time to play 18 holes, with 60% of the golfers surveyed expressing the view that they would enjoy golf more if it took less time.
The survey also revealed that among 25-44 year-olds who are unhappy with the pace of play, 21% would like to see the playing time reduced by as much as one-and-a-half hours, while 19% said they would welcome the opportunity to play nine holes more often as an alternative format.
Royal Troon (Old) ranks 29th in our UK and Ireland: Top 100 Golf Courses.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “One of the messages that came through clearly from the survey and the Time for Golf conference is that people would play more golf if they could do so in significantly less time.
“Nine hole golf is not new but we feel it is often overlooked as a perfectly valid way to play the sport either with your family and friends or competitively.
“We are delighted to introduce a nine hole championship and will be promoting this format as a way of playing golf in less time which can have wider appeal among people who lead increasingly busy lives today.
“We are very much looking forward to working with the national associations to promote nine hole golf and we hope to see more events being played throughout Great Britain and Ireland to cater for this important audience.”