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Let's Play Nine! March 18, 2015

2014 U.S. Open runner-up Rickie Fowler often plays nine-hole practice rounds in preparation for tournaments. (USGA/Darren Carroll)

All of us love the game of golf and welcome every opportunity to play-we enjoy the camaraderie, the challenge and the exhilaration that comes with being outdoors. Recognizing the pace of our busy lives, there’s an emerging movement that returns to the very roots of golf in the United States and the configuration by which many rounds were originally played- nine holes.

As a key advocate for the health and sustainability of the game, the United States Golf Association is leading this movement with a very simple message: Play 9, Play More! Nine-hole rounds are a fulfilling way to enjoy the game in half the time, often at a reduced price and in a format that is more welcoming to friends or family members who may be less experienced. The beauty of a nine-hole round is being able to enjoy every aspect of the traditional golf experience, but in less time.

Golf facilities also benefit from nine-hole play. Nine-hole rounds can help fill in gaps during slower times and create the incentive to return and perhaps play 18 holes in the future.

“The USGA is working to make the game more accessible to anyone who wants to play, and nine-hole rounds are an important part of this,” said Rand Jerris, the USGA’s senior managing director of Public Services. “Nine-hole rounds can fit into anyone’s schedule. They are a great way to expose young people to the game and a great way for families to spend time together.”

To celebrate the nine-hole round and spread the word to golfers across the country, the USGA has designated Wednesday, July 29, 2015 as “Play 9 Day” and developed an online resource at to give golfers additional information about courses that offer nine-hole rates. The website also features a video starring Rickie Fowler, who like many PGA Tour professionals often plays nine-hole practice rounds at tournament venues.

If you’re wondering whether nine-hole scores are eligible to post for handicap purposes, the answer is an absolute yes. The USGA Handicap System™ easily integrates nine-hole scores and actually allows as few as seven holes to be played in order to post a nine-hole round by using "par plus" for the holes not played. In fact, the system combines nine-hole scores as players post them, even if they are played from different tees or on different courses. In those cases, the sum of the USGA Course Rating for each nine is used, along with the average of Slope Rating of the two nines.

These efforts to promote nine-hole rounds are not designed to detract from the joys of playing 18 holes…or 36, for that matter. They are simply meant to encourage golfers to play the game whenever they can – which can mean before work, after work, on a business trip or vacation, late on a weekend evening, or any other time when a traditional 18-hole round might not be feasible.

So get out there on July 29 – or any day – and play nine!