On cloud 9: An uptick in nine-hole rounds

Nine-hole courses in particular have seen a boost from golf’s increased popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s a look at the numbers.


Filed to: Coronavirus

9-hole golf rounds coronavirus
Photo by Catharina Short Sundberg/Unsplash

Research from the National Golf Foundation shows that the golf industry has more than made up for the 20 million rounds of golf that were lost this past spring because of pandemic-related course closures and related anxieties. A big part of that can be credited to increased nine-hole rounds.

The NGF reports an increase in afternoon and evening tee times (and speculates that could be the result of dramatic changes to “normal” work routines) and says the number of nine-hole rounds as a percentage of total rounds is up 15% in 2020.

Those numbers could well grow as daylight wanes.

According to the NGF, “core” golfers report that 33% of their rounds in 2020 have been of the nine-hole variety, while occasional golfers say nearly half (48%) of their rounds have been nine holes.

There are 3,777 nine-hole facilities in the United States — about 26% of the national supply. That wasn’t always the case, however: The NGF says there were more nine-hole courses in the U.S. than courses with 18 or more holes until 1974, when the numbers diverged noticeably.

Seven states currently have more nine-hole courses than 18-and-ups, and, curiously, those states are concentrated in a strip down the northern center of the country: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and nine-hole champion Iowa, which has the most nine-hole facilities — 248 — in the country.

The other two states with more nine-holers than non-nines are more geographically extreme: Alaska and Maine.