Courses in East Lothian, Scotland, have introduced a new format of ‘nine, lunch and nine’ (9L9) as a way to make golf more accessible to people who have less free time. Is this a sign of what’s to come for the rest of the country?
We've talked a lot this year about how golf is changing. As the game has been forced to move with the times and adapt to the modern world, we've seen everything from shorter formats to diminishing dress codes, and in general, these have all been really positive for the sport.
Without a doubt though, one of the biggest issues that remains a barrier to participation in golf is time – or lack of it. We’re working longer hours and our lives today are generally busier than they’ve been before, so we simply don’t have the time we need to dedicate to golf. Or, which I think is more to the point, we can’t justify spending thousands of pounds a month to a hobby we’re not sure we’ll have time to play from one week to the next.
But courses in East Lothian, Scotland, think they’ve got the answer with ‘nine, lunch and nine’ (9L9), a format that has been introduced at different clubs along the coast.
As part of a 4-week trial, Haddington Golf Club have even changed the route of their golf course to feature two distinct loops of nine holes. The ideas is that they’ll sell rounds of nine holes for just £20, run nine-hole competitions and generally host shorter forms of the game. The two loops consist of holes No 1,2,18,14,12,10,11,15,16 and Holes 17,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,13.
Scott Thomson, Club Professional and General Manager of Haddington Golf Club commented, “it's vitally important to explore new ways of attracting more people to the game.”
“We must adapt to show that people can still enjoy golf despite having less free time than ever before. There is a very positive feeling about this right now and we want as many as possible to get involved.”
This change might seem a bit drastic, but if it means that more people can get involved in the game and it attracts new people to the club, then everyone’s a winner as far as I’m concerned. I’m not saying that I like the idea of moving away from 18 holes altogether, but I certainly think a shift to more varied formats is a really positive step for golf and something the rest of the country could learn from.