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Duncan Cheslett

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12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« on: November 27, 2011, 04:20:56 AM »
Over the last few weeks our Saturday club competitions have been played over a limited course because of the short hours of daylight available. It would be impossible to get everyone who wants to play around all 18 holes before sunset at 4.00pm.

Yesterday we played 13 holes and you know what? It was great! After a morning at work I teed off at 1.00 and was in the clubhouse with a pint of Guinness at 3.30! By 5.30 I was at home cooking dinner in time for my wife getting back from wherever wives go on Saturdays while their husbands are playing golf. Her delight was paplable and her good mood remained for the rest of the evening ;)

A result, then...

So it got me thinking - why have we saddled ourselves with the standard 18 hole layout for golf courses? A shorter layout  of say 12 holes would have so many advantages - here are just a few I can think of off the top of my head;

A round of 2-3 hours would fit in with far more peoples' busy schedules than the current 4+ hours. The time-consuming nature of golf as a pastime is one of the main obsticles to people (particularly those with young families) participating.

A typical property would inevitably yield 12 holes of better quality than 18. Many courses I play are very tight and cramped - not only would reducing the number of holes give each more space but it would also alleviate many heath and safety concerns.

The cost of maintaining 12 holes instead of 18 will be considerably less.

12 holes is walkable for all but the infirm or geriatric. Many older guys find 18 holes a little too much.

A full day's golf of 24 holes is a much less intimidating prospect than 36.  If you really want to play 36 holes, simply go round again!

I could go on and on, but this article says it better than I can...


http://www.worldgolf.com/column/12-hole-golf-courses-11475.htm

I also seem to have Jack Nicklaus on board...


The game is more popular than ever among avid golfers with the income and leisure to play a lot, but most people have less free time than ever. The current generation of younger parents spends a lot more time supervising their kids than previous generations, and it means they find it harder to justify a weekend round of golf. Leaving for the course at 7 in the morning and coming back at 3 in the afternoon is a hard sell for a family man. But getting back in time for lunch wouldn't be.

That's why we should consider the possibility of making 12 holes a standard round. It might mean breaking up 18-hole facilities into three segments of six holes. Of course it would meet resistance, but eventually it would be accepted because it would make sense in people's lives.


http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0HFI/is_3_58/ai_n27907615/pg_4/?tag=content;col1





« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 06:04:32 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - a way forward?
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2011, 04:40:19 AM »
golf is a game played over 18 holes - always has been (well, to a point!) and always will be.



Wasn't Prestwick a 12 hole course when it hosted the inaugral Open Championship?

18 holes has only been the standard round for 120 years. It has only officially been a standard round for 60 years.

http://www.scottishgolfhistory.net/eighteen_hole_round.htm
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 04:45:39 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2011, 04:50:11 AM »
Oops - posts crossed there, Brian.

My point is that the only argument in favour of 18 holes as standard appears to be tradition and convention.

Why do all courses have to have the same number of holes anyway? Now that handicaps are calculated to one decimal place it would be a simple enough job to determine a person's handicap accurately on a course of any number of holes.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 04:54:37 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Neil White

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 05:48:06 AM »
Hi Duncan,

I have always liked the idea of reduced hole courses - I wonder if there's many on here who haven't played a reduced number of holes on their home course by blending both front and back nines into an eclectic 12 or 15 holes?  At my home course I can play the first 7 and then jump onto the 15th and play out the remainder, making a round of 11 holes.  Obviously I obey etiquette whenever 'cutting in' - but by doing this I can, as a single, play the 11 holes in around an hour and a half - great for an early morning fix or a late evening game in the summer.

I'm not sure that existing 18 hole facilities who are feeling the pinch would really want to sell off a portion of their course to improve cash flow - especially as there are a number of other ways to make savings to improve finances before culling the chosen few.

Furthermore, what happens if and when the courses turn the corner and then rue making such a decision? 

I believe that reduced hole courses are an ideal solution when a facility is being considered in built up areas or is a course aimed at introducing golfers to the game - I have spoken with many a beginner who find 18 holes too many but want to play more than 9.

The possible issue with reduced holes is peoples perception - due to the standard 9 or 18 holes as is accepted this day and age.

Many a great 9 hole course is frowned upon due to its half measure and the same would be true of 12 or 15 hole facilities.

Unfortunately it will only be 'accepted' when a notable architect or course endeavors on such a venture - but is there anyone out there prepared to make such a small yet bold step?

Neil.

Courses played 2020 - ................!

Adrian_Stiff

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 08:20:14 AM »
Duncan - A round of golf is 18 holes. I cant give you a logical reason why a 12 hole course wont work, but (on its own) its just perceived as inferior. Sadly a bad 18 holer is better than a great 12 holer in the masses eyes.
A combination of whats good for golf and good for turf.
The Players Club, Cumberwell Park, The Kendleshire, Oake Manor, Dainton Park, Forest Hills, Erlestoke, St Cleres.
www.theplayersgolfclub.com

Mac Plumart

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 08:26:19 AM »
All it would take is for someone to build a great 12 holer (or however many holes as long as it isn't 18), have the media, critics, PGA pros, and the like praise the heck out of it...give it a ton of publicity in all the golf magazines...talk about how great it is...and BLAMMO, the masses would follow and love it.

This would work, if the right people say it is a good thing in the right venues and in the right manner.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Melvyn Morrow

Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 08:32:11 AM »

Gentlemen Golfers letís not forget the reason why so many courses were built with different numbers of Holes. The land available was not suitable or limited for any more Holes and you will note that many an early course, some surviving through to this day have criss cross Holes.

Look through the early history of many a club records and you will see clubs that started off with 6 Holes, 9 Holes, 12, Holes 22 Holes plus many in between. Yet not forgetting the number of Holes required to play their early monthly competitions, inter-club and the Great Matches all were based upon 18 or rounds of 18 i.e. The Open 36 Holes (1860).

Now some want to curtail or reproduce 12 Hole courses perhaps 6 Holes again, the problem being that to play over the same hole two or three time per round is not a receipt for success and may result in boredom/frustration by the majority of players, rendering that course useless except for those who wish to play a limited number of Holes.
   
Itís a non-starter IMHO because loops of 9 Holes would IMO qualify while still leaving the wholes course available to all golfers.

Just when are we humans going to take responsibility for our actions, understanding our mental and physical limitations and show some very basic common sense and consideration for others? We canít play or sustain 18 Holes due to age or medical reasons after a life time of the game, then either use carts (the only time they should be allowed on any course) or like myself stop playing, period or until the Doctors have resolved the problem. WE should certainly know our limitations and not force the majority of golfers to accommodate us. Because we have the technology and money (well we did have the money once) we think that gives us the right to play with the basics of the game, compromise it or abuse it, all because of our own weakness in being NOT able to live up to the real game of golf, thatís the walking and thing game that has been around for centuries.

Age and Health are outside forces that we have very little control over so why try and force the Game of Golf to compromise (yet again), accept the inevitable or hope for a miracle and if it has been good enough for you over the last XX amount of years, then it should be good enough for the next XX amount of years.

The game and many of its courses are being killed by the march of uncontrolled technology. The Governing Bodies like many on this site sprout crap statistics that mean zero when defining the game. Nevertheless we all seemed memorised by them just like the list that keep appearing on ďthe Best 100 Courses in the World, USA, GB etc. In the great game of Golf they are unimportant, they are required to sustain what many think is important today within the game yet just looking back over the history of the game and also to many of the old golf courses proving itís a totally  load of bullshit. How come the past generations of golfers and designers never bothered, and while thinking on, how come many of our great courses were built without all this bullshit. Come on wake up, stop craping over the game and start build courses that will stand the challenges of time as well as test all skills of future golfers.

!8 Hole per round is just fine, itís just right and enables the game some connection with its own history.

Until we face up to our own abilities and limitations with a touch of consideration for others, our lives, game and quality of life will continue the long slow decline we have inflicted into our modern lives.     

Melvyn


Mac Plumart

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 08:34:49 AM »
Gentlemen Golfers letís not forget the reason why so many courses were built with different numbers of Holes. The land available was not suitable

Melvyn...you say this a lot...and please continue...this is so true and so vital.
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Tim Gavrich

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 09:02:38 AM »
I'm of two minds on this idea.  Yes, I think that thinking "outside the box" about ways to make golf more appealing is potentially very fruitful.  But...

Doesn't the idea of reducing rounds of golf to 18 holes constitute caving in to the entrenched culture of too-slow play?  I think the problem with slow play in golf is shot-by-shot or hole-by-hole first, rather than round-by-round.  If golf courses were 12 holes all of a sudden, then golfers would merely be upset with slow play for 12 holes rather than 18, and they would still largely complain about how long it took to play a round.  On its face, trying to institutionalize the shortening of rounds of golf to 12 holes without trying first to tackle slow play from within is akin to amputating a patient's leg before trying other medicines to combat the infection.

Just playing devil's advocate here. 
Senior Writer, GolfPass

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2011, 09:15:40 AM »
I'm of two minds on this idea.  Yes, I think that thinking "outside the box" about ways to make golf more appealing is potentially very fruitful.  But...

Doesn't the idea of reducing rounds of golf to 18 holes constitute caving in to the entrenched culture of too-slow play?  I think the problem with slow play in golf is shot-by-shot or hole-by-hole first, rather than round-by-round.  If golf courses were 12 holes all of a sudden, then golfers would merely be upset with slow play for 12 holes rather than 18, and they would still largely complain about how long it took to play a round.  On its face, trying to institutionalize the shortening of rounds of golf to 12 holes without trying first to tackle slow play from within is akin to amputating a patient's leg before trying other medicines to combat the infection.

Just playing devil's advocate here.  

It was not so much slow play that I was thinking about; more that the length of time that it takes to play 18 holes of golf even if play is at a brisk pace is longer than many busy people can spare or justify on a regular basis. Considering that he has never had a 'normal' job in his life I think that Jack Nicklaus is spot on in his assessment here.


Perhaps if someone of his public standing started building 12 hole courses in metropolitan areas entrenched attitudes might start to change.

Thinking it through, I can see no reason why we shouldn't have 8000 yard 18 hole courses for professional tournaments AND 4500 yard 12 hole courses for working folk - as well as everything in between.

Why artificial uniformity? It's still golf.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 09:23:42 AM by Duncan Cheslett »

Joe Leenheer

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2011, 09:21:16 AM »
Every golf course is a 12 Hole Golf Course.  

For the casual golfer, there is no rule that says if you tee it you have to play 18.  Golfers are forced into this decision by Greens Fees and Cart Fees.  As with many courses, mine's 9th hole does not return to the clubhouse.  The 12th does. So we have a 9 hole fee, 12 hole fee, and an 18 hole fee (the only thing we are missing is a 6 hole fee...but we just charge a full 9..house wins).  

All of our Championships are based off of 18 hole rounds (and yes they are long), but we also have events that are 9 or 12 holes in length.

I don't think 12 hole courses are the answer to the time and money issues.  We need courses to think outside the box so that people are given the most options to utilize whatever time they have.  How would you feel about a course basing its fees on a hole by hole basis with the more holes you play the better your rate?  Example:  18 holes = $22 or $1.50 hole.  

     
Never let the quality of your game determine the quality of your time spent playing it.

Steve_ Shaffer

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2011, 09:22:40 AM »
Here's the the new 13 hole course at Bandon Dunes:

http://robertfagan.com/golf/golf/courses-and-travel/6167/worlds-best-13-hole-par-3-golf-course-the-bandon-preserve-bandon-oregon

Unfortunately, it's located in a resort, not in a major urban area. It will take a developer with a lot of cajones to build one on a smaller landspace; however I can see a 18 hole course being built with three 6 hole loops.

In the meantime, who says that one has to play all 18 holes on a regulation course? The USGA allows 13 holes to count for handicap purposes if you add your estimated score  for the remainng 5 by using your full handicap.

There's a new 9 hole course near me that will open next summer. I plan to be there...a lot.It has 6 holes now.
http://www.hcgolfcourse.com/
"Some of us worship in churches, some in synagogues, some on golf courses ... "  Adlai Stevenson
Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone: "We're bigger than US Steel."
Ben Hogan ďThe most important shot in golf is the next oneĒ

Norbert P

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2011, 09:32:31 AM »
  Shiskine adjusted to 12 as they saw fit.  It has worked very well and the 12 holer is a blast to play. Two rounds takes you to a good thirst factor for dowsing the brain with the fine local Scotches.  So, the decision is site specific.

  Dan King and I played the Pacific Dunes teaser 12 just prior to its official opening and it definitely sold us on the number. (Full disclosure - A good size for a replay after playing the 18 with Dan's CIA/Rocket scientist leverage as  we played the whole course, too.)

  We built a 5 hole course this summer out of old tires and T posts.  It's been rated in all the major publications as the finest 5 hole course within a 800 mile radius.  It took 11 minutes to design and build.    Free unless you add up all the beer.
"Golf is only meant to be a small part of oneís life, centering around health, relaxation and having fun with friends/family." R"C"M

Wade Whitehead

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2011, 11:16:14 AM »
Tim Gavrich is right.  The problem is slow play, not too many holes.

I wonder who enjoys bowling 7 frames, or playing 6 innings of baseball, or watching a three-quarter [American] football game.

WW

Phil McDade

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2011, 11:26:16 AM »
Tim Gavrich is right.  The problem is slow play, not too many holes.


I disagree; the optimal 18-hole round in the U.S., at least, is probably 3 hours. I've done that, several times, but in ideal conditions -- playing as a single, no one ahead of me (or gracious golfers who let me play through), and conditions conducive for playing quickly (no long green-to-tee walks, no penal rough, >6,400 yards for the course). Still, for me, that equates to at least four hours of time related to golf -- the actual round, the getting to and from the course, the check-in at the desk, even a nominal wait for the tee time, a courteous visit to the pro shop for a sleeve of balls. That's four hours -- half a day, essentially.

Reduce that to two hours -- not that difficult to accomplish with a well-run 12-hole course -- and you'd see participation grow. That's only half the morning, or part of an afternoon, or a nice post-supper stroll in the summer. I'd like to see more 12-hole courses developed (as one who's played Shiskine, and thought it a blast. Afterwards, I immediately thought -- why can't more courses in the U.S. be like this?)


Dale Jackson

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2011, 12:50:17 PM »
I believe the solution is not a different number of prescribed holes but a routing that allows golfers to use the facility as fits their requirements.  I am sure other architects have written of this as well but, in the 1920s AV Macan advocated, in theory, to build courses in loops of 3, allowing players to choose the number of holes they wished to play.

In practice, of course, few sites would lend themselves to that absolute but in many of his courses it is possible to construct a great many routings that allow a player to chose the number of holes (and total time) they want to play.

At Royal Colwood we have the great luxury of playing groups of 3, 4, 5, 9, 12, 13 or 18 holes.  A great way to spend a summer evening is to work on some aspect of the swing at the practice range and then play 3 or 4 holes to take that work onto the course.

As facilities struggle to keep and attract members, they must learn to meet the needs of the membership, not just offer up a product and hope they will come.  One way to do that is to offer maximum flexibility regarding when, for how many holes and how long a member choses to use the course
I've seen an architecture, something new, that has been in my mind for years and I am glad to see a man with A.V. Macan's ability to bring it out. - Gene Sarazen

Joe Leenheer

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Never let the quality of your game determine the quality of your time spent playing it.

Tom Kelly

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2011, 02:32:33 PM »
I do agree that 12 holes may very well be the way forward for urban golf courses in large cities and personally I think it could be a great thing for the industry. Obviously land prices and availability is always going to be an issue but less so with 12 rather than 18 holes. Unfortunately in the current financial climate I can't see anyone willing to take the risk that building a course like that would entail.

I also see routing courses to enable more combinations of holes as a good thing if the land suits it and the clientele of the course is correct.

One of the things I really like about my home club is the variation of holes I can play whilst still starting and finishing at the clubhouse. Obviously this depends on how busy the course is but usually during the week I could play any of the following;

1-4, 9

1-3,16-18

1-9

1-12

13-18

10-12

1-4, 14-18

1-4, 9-12

1-4, 17, 18

The list could go on and the variations seem almost endless.

The senior section regularly play competitions over 12 holes on Mondays and lots of them on Sundays play 12 and then get hammered in the clubhouse whilst watching the football, often joking that they haven't seen the last 6 holes for 10 years or more. Playing 18 would mean they miss the start of the early kick-off!

Duncan Cheslett

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2011, 02:51:49 PM »
I do agree that 12 holes may very well be the way forward for urban golf courses in large cities and personally I think it could be a great thing for the industry. Obviously land prices and availability is always going to be an issue but less so with 12 rather than 18 holes. Unfortunately in the current financial climate I can't see anyone willing to take the risk that building a course like that would entail.



Neither can I.

But I can see an 18 hole club reducing to 12 holes to save costs and realise cash by flogging off a few acres for house building. It's likely to be that kind of drastic step or go bust completely for many clubs...



...all I'm saying is that this may not neccesarily be a bad thing, if people could just get their heads around the idea that a good golf course doesn't have to have 18 holes.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 02:57:11 PM by Duncan Cheslett »

Melvyn Morrow

Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2011, 03:00:57 PM »

Duncan

Between the turn of the 20th Century and the WW1 many courses followed you suggestion reducing from 18 down to 9. Many a reason was due, but one main was the Steamers not bring in the weekend day trippers as before. One site on Islay springs to mind and went from 18 Holes in 1896 to 9 circa 1910 and closed soon after as only the islanders used it. Leaving Machrie to catch what did come from the steamers as close to the port.

Melvyn

Mac Plumart

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2011, 03:46:49 PM »
I do agree that 12 holes may very well be the way forward for urban golf courses in large cities and personally I think it could be a great thing for the industry. Obviously land prices and availability is always going to be an issue but less so with 12 rather than 18 holes. Unfortunately in the current financial climate I can't see anyone willing to take the risk that building a course like that would entail.



Neither can I.

But I can see an 18 hole club reducing to 12 holes to save costs and realise cash by flogging off a few acres for house building. It's likely to be that kind of drastic step or go bust completely for many clubs...



...all I'm saying is that this may not neccesarily be a bad thing, if people could just get their heads around the idea that a good golf course doesn't have to have 18 holes.

Unless someone beats me to the punch, I will build a world class golf course that is not 9 or 18 holes.  The clock is ticking!! 
Sportsman/Adventure loving golfer.

Wade Schueneman

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2011, 04:32:10 PM »
I like the idea of a club with a championship 18 adding a short (4000 yards) and compact 12 or 13 hole course.  Maybe you send the slower players on that loop.  Maybe it is used for hickory golf.  Maybe it is full of bold and fun features that many members would compalin about on their "big" course.  Maybe it can be used to give the full 18 a week off from time to time.  Lots of possibilities, and since it is a second mini course, I would think the budget could be kept fairly small.

What if the shorter course was reserved only for faster players (especially singles and twosomes)?  I would love that. 

I think that any club considering a short course as their only option might have problems.

Mark Buzminski

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2011, 04:49:39 PM »
18 holes, please.  If that takes too much time, play 9, like many people have been doing for decades.  The entire 12 hole thing seems like just another example of the cravings of the modern egotistical psyche - a new, individualized version built just for me, and my busy life.  I really don't see it being anything that would entice new people to the game.  What it would do is assuage a segment of people who already play the game, but want it bent to their demands.

Melvyn Morrow

Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2011, 05:31:02 PM »

Just what gives with the modern player, because it seems that if you cannot hack it then change it until you can.

Life is a challenge, everything we do in life pushes us to confront the unknown, to learn and move on. We have developed industries, both heavy and light, created a wonder in the electronic world, not by looking for the easy option but have persevered and worked through the challenges.

Yet we take a great game that has been around for 600 years and screw with it, never learning the lessons that past designers have faced. That is just pure ignorance enforced by arrogance. Anyway who at this time is going to pay for these whims, the poor golfer again?

Get real and show some commitment or at least grow a backbone -  just too lazy to do that, then perhaps stand up against this rubbish.

Melvyn

Wade Whitehead

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Re: 12 Hole Golf Courses - A Way Forward?
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2011, 08:37:20 PM »
I can't seem to quote previous posts.  When I click "Quote" my screen half freezes and nothing ever appears in the Reply box.  I was going to reference Phil's disagreement with Tim's contention that pace of play is the primary problem.

In the original post Mr. Nicklaus says a family man can't make it home in time for lunch.  That's not because there are too many holes to be played; it's because his golf course tolerates slow play, likely in the gentleman's own group!

A twelve-hole layout is no more a golf course than my yard is a baseball diamond.  Hats off to Melvyn for speaking up for the tradition of golf over the inclination to convenience the modern player.  A round of golf is eighteen holes long.

WW

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