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Craig_Rokke

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How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymore?
« on: November 27, 2002, 07:02:55 PM »
Why won't they build 9 hole courses anymore? I've played
at least half a dozen of them. All were fun, sporty (you knew that word was coming, didn't you?) courses built between 1900 and 1935. For the first thirty years of golf in the US, it seemed as if every other course built was just 9 holes, but I can't recall the last time I saw one built around the greater Philadelphia area. Is it that way everywhere? If so, why do you think that is?

My thought is that the people behind course development must look at it as sort of a cop-out. Why build 9 if you can do a full 18? Eighteen holes surely must be a lot more varied and challenging for the golfer. You don't want them to get bored playing the same hole twice, do you, they must reason?

I'd also guess that the financial backers of courses are
hesitant to lay money out for just 9 holes. After all the
pint-sized 9 holer would likely wilt when competing against
the more muscular 18 hole layouts.

I'd really like to see someone buck the trend and go with half an 18 once in a while. Just for old time's sake. How many times have you seen 18 holes crammed into a parcel that really could have offered only 10 or 12 decent ones? I'd think that often, 9 strong holes could have been built in lieu of 18 less than good ones. Around here, there just aren't that many 150 acre sites left to build on anyway.

In other cases, where golf courses have gone belly up trying to pay off their expensive acreage, (expensive to maintain, as well.) I wonder if, in certain cases, a nine hole option would be more economically viable.

When I play a 9 hole course, I always enjoy competing against myself--trying to improve each hole's score from the front nine. I also find that carefully placed tee boxes can create two fairly different holes on the same ground.

I'd be interested to hear your comments. What are some of
your favorite 9 holes courses? I know Tom Huckaby has one he's quite fond of. Any of them built in the last 20 years?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:11 PM by -1 »

Craig Van Egmond

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Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2002, 09:34:44 PM »

I have been wondering the same thing.

I myself have a special fondness for 9 hole courses, having really learned how to play on one. I have managed to play seven 9 hole courses this year and only 1 of them was built in the last 30 years. There seems to be a real stigma about building and playing them.

In Washington Bill Overdorf created a really cool 9 hole course called Raspberry Ridge.

Here in Oklahoma, there is a old Perry Maxwell 9 hole in Bristow that is an absolute blast to play. Probably the best 9 holer I have here is Drumright, the course is in great shape and has some very interesting holes.

I wonder how many people who post here would actually play a 9 hole course?  Would anyone drive out of there way to play one? Other than the one Keiser built.

What is the best course with only 9 holes?

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

SBusch (Guest)

Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2002, 09:37:26 PM »
There's a couple of problems with 9-holers.  First, understand that most 18-holers are built to support real estate or to complete a dream.  Most people don't dream of building 9-hole courses, or want to live on one.  Or, if you've got 60 acres in a metro area, are you going to build a 9 hole course where you'll be lucky to pay the mortgage, or are you going to build 200 houses or an apartment complex.  Financially, it's a fairly easy decision, not that the 18-hole returns are any better, though.

9 hole courses also have a stigma (unjustified) outside of the northeast.

One the other hand, I have seen very financally successful 18 hole executive courses.  3 recent ones in Atlanta come immediately to mind, and all are holding their own.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

WPM

Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2002, 09:58:34 PM »
Cloquet Country Club outside Duluth, MN is a wonderful Ross 9 holer, located on the bluffs of a river, lots of great holes.  But they just a new nine, which unfortunately doesnt compare to the Ross nine.  i believe a couple people on this site have played it.  
 One of my favorite nin hole courses in Begin Oaks(pronounced Bashin, not begin).  In my opinion itcompares to any other public course in the minneapolis, yet nobody knows about it.  It opened only two years ago. Gotta go
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Mike_Cirba

Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2002, 10:41:17 PM »
Craig;

Great question!

I've played quite a few nine-holers over the years and one recently opened in NJ by Brian Ault called Hyatt Hills that's supposedly pretty decent.

I must admit that I'm in no hurry to get out there, however, and therein lies the problem, I believe.  In modern times they've become viewed as sort of "golf-lite", which doesn't make any rational sense yet still is undeniable.

Still, there are many nine-holers worth seeking out.  The upstate NY area has a plethora of superb, character-filled nine-holers, as does much of New England.  

Going back to NJ, I was going to add two nine-holers to the "Cult Courses" thread, but this might be a better place to mention them.

The first is Blair Academy GC, whose first six holes are one of the most wild roller coaster rides I've had the pleasure of playing.  Unfortunately, it seems that the final three were coopted by a baseball field and are out of character with the starting holes.  Still, I could probably play the first six over and over and have a ball!  The course was designed by Duer Irving Sewall in 1925 and bears a strong resemblance to something by Seth Raynor.

The second course is Scotch Hills Country Club, which is a mere 2247 yards, par 33, in Scotch Plains.  It was built around 1900 (architect unknown, although I suspect it was Willie Dunn) and was originally called Westfield CC, the first African-American owned country club in the country.  

It features some of the most wild and varied green complexes I've ever seen and is a sheer delight in creative course management.  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Jim_Kennedy

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Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2002, 10:43:38 PM »
Craig,
Much of it revolves around economics. I don't know of any major lender who will go in on a 9 hole deal, the fees and points aren't enough to tempt them. Even though a well run 9 hole course may have a rate of return almost twice that of an 18 holer the gross will be significantly less which further diminishes their financing options.
There are local lenders who continue to finance the resales in this market but I have not seen any go in on new construction.
Everything pertaining to these courses is on a smaller scale including membership sales, outings, Pro shop sales, etc..  
The number of available tee times at 9 holers is limited as it's nearly impossible to guarantee times during the 3rd and 4th hours of operation.
In the Northeast 9 holers suffer in autumn. Many golfers see the end of the season coming and try to hit the 18's for their last rounds of the season.
Add all this to the other comments and it's not hard to see why few new 9 hole courses are being built.

Personally I love 'em and during the season I play at least 50% of my rounds on them.  


  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"I never beat a well man in my life" - Harry Vardon

Jeff Mingay

Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2002, 06:59:16 AM »
(Rod Whitman and) I have recently had brief talks with a potential developer who has something like 150 acres and wants golf and housing.

We're yet to have an official meeting about the potential for the project, but when that happens, I'm going to pitch a 9-hole course w/ a housing component on its periphery rather than saying, "You need more land."

I'm anxious to see what the developer's reaction is. I'd love to design and build a neat 9-holer.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Craig_Rokke

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Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2002, 07:56:16 AM »
Jeff-
I think I like your approach to the project. It sounds like
a situation where the potential for a compromised 18 holes exists.



There's a pretty neat, short, 9 hole Hugh Wilson course
near me called Phoenixvuille CC. In the last few years,
residential development was completed on an adjoining tract
of land that seemed quite suitable for 9 holes of golf. Too
bad--it would have been interesting to see what they could have come up with.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Paul Richards

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Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2002, 08:00:59 AM »
Craig:  

The answer to your question is, to me, the "YEAH, BUT" factor.

My best example is the Dunes Club, just east of Chicago.  It is a spectacular course, worthy of anyones "top" list.

The "YEAH, BUT" factor is yeah, it's great, but it's only 9 holes.  

Why can't it be 18?  If it had 18 holes like the 9 it does, it would be in everyone's top 50 (at least).  

So yeah it's great, BUT it's only 9.

that, to me, is the problem with building only 9 hole courses.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"Something has to change, otherwise the never-ending arms race that benefits only a few manufacturers will continue to lead to longer courses, narrower fairways, smaller greens, more rough, more expensive rounds, and other mechanisms that will leave golf's future in doubt." -  TFOG

Forrest Richardson

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Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2002, 08:15:12 AM »
Royal Worlington & Newmarket near Cambridge, England is an interesting economic lesson:

A nine-hole course at which only alternating shot foursome matches are allowed to be played -- AT ALL TIMES! So, the notion that a 9-hole course can only accommodate so many tee times is not ture. A Royal Worlington they have about 350 members and play just as much golf as Carnoustie, St. Annes, Troon, etc. Worlington averages just over one hour for 9-hole matches. The result is round times at about half of their stroke play counterparts. The difference is simply the game permitted to be played.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
Forrest Richardson, Golf Course Architect/ASGCA
    www.golfgroupltd.com
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Tom Doak

Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2002, 10:47:58 AM »
I believe it's more the ego factor than the economics.  Most developers want a "real" course, not just nine holes, even though it costs significantly less to build nine.

There are a lot of poor 18-hole courses which could have made excellent nine holers, if they hadn't had to cram in all those other holes.

Look at the list of great nine hole courses in the back of The Confidential Guide.  Two or three of them were lessened by the addition of an inferior second nine.  The rare exception to this is Prairie Dunes -- and as other people have observed, the original holes are the nine best holes on the property there.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

henrye

Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2002, 10:54:42 AM »
There is a fun 9 called Britannia on Grand Caymen designed by Nicklaus.  Not sure how old it is, but it must be a fairly recent build - last 5 to 10 years.  Every other day the course changes from a full 9 to an executive par 3-18.  The course is by no means great, but it's a lot of fun (especially playing with kids - my son was 11 at the time) and the daily change adds variety.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »

Jim_Kennedy

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Re: How Come No One Wants to Build 9 Holers Anymor
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2002, 11:09:22 AM »
Forrest,
The course you cited has, in effect, 175 members due to the  foursomes format. I don't think it would work here.
There is a 9 holer near me that has about 300 or so members and they're making tee times for weekday play! The Super keeps the turf healthy but he must work hard.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by 1056376800 »
"I never beat a well man in my life" - Harry Vardon

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