Since its debut in 2014, the USGA’s PLAY9™ program has focused on encouraging more people to play more golf, more often. The program aims to showcase the nine-hole round as an ideal solution for both avid golfers and newcomers alike to get out and play in a time-friendly and engaging way.
This year, the USGA is working closely with its Allied Golf Association in taking a regional approach with PLAY9. The USGA will host and invite local communities to participate in dedicated regional PLAY9 days each month, beginning on May 9. Golfers can find a golf course in their community that offers a nine-hole rate at usga.org/play9. The course finder identifies nine-hole facilities as well as 18-hole golf courses that offer a nine-hole rate.
Community PLAY9 events will also take place in markets that coincide with upcoming USGA championship locations, including Middle Island, N.Y. (near the site of the U.S. Open); Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Senior Open); Wheaton, Ill. (U.S. Senior Women’s Open); Pebble Beach, Calif. (U.S. Amateur); and Charleston, S.C. (2019 U.S. Women’s Open).
“The PLAY9 program offers a fun entry point into the game for newcomers while providing a way for golfers to balance their love of the game with their demanding schedules,” said Mike Davis, USGA CEO. “We have seen the impact to date and the awareness it has built around enjoying nine holes with friends and family. Together with our friends in golf, we’re finding new ways to welcome more golfers and support a positive future for the game.”
Since the program’s inception, PLAY9 has continued to positively impact golf communities and engage golfers nationwide:
- Nearly 24 percent of golfers* reported that they participated in a PLAY9 program in 2017, a significant increase from 2015 (17 percent).
- 54 percent of single-digit handicappers reported that they participated in a PLAY9 program in 2017, up from 32 percent in 2015.
- 23 percent of facility operators strongly agree that the program has had a positive impact – a 16 percent increase since 2016.
- 70 percent of golfers agree with the statement, “Nine-hole rounds are a great way to try golf.”
“As all of our lives get busier, I’ve become a huge fan of the USGA’s PLAY9 initiative,” said Mark Button of the Texas Golf Association, which hosts a staff/community PLAY9 event each year. “Everyone here at the TGA feels the same. Getting out with some of our members to play nine holes on a summer afternoon is one of my favorite things to do. We had so much fun, and I look forward to doing it again soon.”
According to the National Golf Foundation, 88 percent of all public golf courses in America currently offer a nine-hole rate, averaging less than $30 per round. Nine-hole scores made up around 8 percent of all scores posted to the USGA Golf Handicap & Information Network® system over the past four years (2014-2017), an increase from an average of 6 percent from 2010-2013.
The usga.org/play9 portal will serve as a convenient and dedicated destination for golfers, including opportunities to share stories and information about posting nine-hole scores.
The USGA will also continue to support the PLAY9 initiative and communicate its message with a broadcast public service announcement (PSA) that has already reached more than 180 million viewers nationwide.
* Random survey of 2,000 golfers in Fall 2017 (USGA Programmatic Tracker, conducted by Sports & Leisure Group)