Nine is Fine (and here’s why): Get Creative when you Play and Find your New BFF
A round of golf can take up a large part of your day, so why don’t more golfers entertain the thought of playing just nine holes?
Look, I get it. A round of golf is 18 holes, and playing anything less is, well, less. Many players would immediately think, “no bueno” and ditch the opportunity altogether.
But what players are missing here is that nine holes can be an opportunity to practice under real course conditions, because you’re literally, you know, on the course.
Having trouble with a particular club in your bag? Grab that bad boy, stuff a handful of tees and plenty of golf balls in a Sunday bag, and go out one late afternoon with just that one club.
Yes, that means using it for every single shot you take. Drive with it, putt with it, hit it out of the sand. You are not concerned about score here. The goal is to get comfortable with that club. Period. And using it under so many different conditions and for such a variety of shots will give you a feel for the club that you’ve probably never had before.
Example: I was about to break up with my 3-wood a few years back, but I decided to make a last-ditch effort to save the relationship. There was a time when we had had a great connection, and I wasn’t willing to give up without a fight. I took that baby out on a late summer afternoon with no expectations other than having a great time.
I quickly noticed that walking the course was relaxing when I wasn’t carrying anything but that one club. And carrying that one club between shots and all around that course turned it into something pretty cool. It was more about experiencing the club and the different shots it could produce, instead of expecting it to perform a certain way and then being let down when it didn’t do exactly what I wanted it to.
Were we BFFs by the end of the round? No. But we weren’t enemies, either. I had a better understanding and feel for the club, and I was definitely more comfortable with it. Not having time for 18 holes that day was a blessing, because a nine-hole practice session was exactly what I needed most.
I have since had issues with other clubs in my bag, and I have spent nine holes of quality time with them, too. It always ends well, mostly because there’s no pressure to score. The only focus is enjoying the golf course getting to know that particular club better, and feeling as comfortable with it as possible. And feeling comfortable with it does not always equate to hitting good shots. It simply means feeling better with that club. From there, good shots will come.
Another argument for playing nine? A quick round in the late afternoon before heading in for some wine and appetizers is one of the best ways to spend your day when you don’t have enough time (or sunlight) for 18. It’s also a great way to introduce beginners or intimidated players to the game in a reduced-pressure environment.
I mean, you have a golf cart loaded with snacks, a portable speaker and a lit playlist, and maybe a little wine in a Yeti as you hack away until the sun disappears. Who would say no to that? Spoiler: Not me.
By broadening your requirements on how and how long you deem it worth your while to hit the golf course, you are also expanding your approach to how you effectively practice the game and who you play it with.
Get yourself out of the rut and shake it up a bit. You’ll eventually find that you’re more creative with your clubs, you get to play more often (even if fewer holes are involved) and, as a result of being more comfortable with each club, your scores have improved. It’s a win-win-win.