PLAY 9
Texas Golf Association Embraces Nine-Hole Rounds June 12, 2015 | DALLAS By David Shefter, USGA

The Texas Golf Association offers golfers the opportunity to play in organized nine-hole events on seven dates between May and August. (Texas Golf Association)

Dennis Sutton has always enjoyed playing Stevens Park Golf Course in Dallas. A challenging 18-hole municipal course with views of the city skyline, Stevens Park recently underwent a major renovation under the direction of Trey Kemp from Colligan Golf Design.

But Sutton, of Plano, Texas, had another reason to visit the course on May 16 – a “Play 9” event conducted by the Texas Golf Association (TGA). The TGA is hosting a series of Play 9 events in support of PLAY9™, a USGA initiative that promotes the nine-hole round as a way to serve golfers with busy schedules. The Stevens Park event was the first of six TGA Play 9 events scheduled through Aug. 27, and six Texas sites are also hosting events on the USGA’s national PLAY9™ Day, set for Wednesday, July 29.

Sutton was also drawn to Stevens Park by the fact that the U.S. Open Trophy would be on display, part of a trophy tour through the metroplex in support of the USGA’s “Open For All”™ programming ahead of the 115th U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay, in University Place, Wash.

“When I saw the Play 9 special, along with the U.S. Open Trophy being there, I was sold,” said Sutton.

On an overcast day, approximately 30 people took advantage of the TGA’s promotion, which offered nine-hole rounds for $24.50. Between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., participants could take photographs of themselves with the trophy, and those who teed off after 4 p.m. also received a hat.

Kelly Kilgo of the TGA said the event was a success.

“The TGA felt like we needed to do a better job of reaching out to all golfers,” said Kilgo. “As a part of the initiative, we added casual play days, travel events and the Play 9s. We found that many golfers who were missing from our competitions just didn’t have time to play 18 holes of golf or more. They have families, can’t take the time from work or for whatever reason don’t have four to five hours in their day for a full round of golf. Play 9s allow these golfers to get back into the game and find the time to do it. It also gives us an opportunity to promote some of our area member clubs.”

Kilgo added that the May 16 Play 9 event likely would have seen even more participation had it not been for sporadic afternoon rainstorms.

The TGA promoted the event to its members and Stevens Park sent information to its regular customers. The association hopes to expand the initiative to other areas of the state.

Stevens Park will host a second Play 9 event on Aug. 20. Other participating courses include Sky Creek Ranch Golf Club (July 8), Lantana Golf Club (July 20) and The Tribute at the Colony Golf Club (Aug. 13 and Aug. 27).

Catherine Hanson, of Addison, Texas, played a lot of golf when she was in college, but once she started working full-time, it became harder for her to find time. Play 9 offered her a chance to get reacquainted with the game without devoting a full day.

“I’m looking forward to taking a couple of hours a week to play nine holes again,” said Hanson. “Plus, it’s great exercise.”

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

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