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Ran Morrissett

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Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« on: January 19, 2021, 02:41:45 PM »
https://golfclubatlas.com/feature-interview-with-mike-dutton/

In terms of raw data presented, this month’s Feature Interview with Mike Dutton might be a topper. Charts galore, %’s, and scores of facts. Sounds ominous? It is really just Mike Dutton sharing with us information that he has gathered on 9-holers over the past few decades.

Mike became hooked early on by playing golf on a 9-holer at a naval base where his dad was stationed in Connecticut. Watching submarines half-submerged go by on the Thames River, he never felt like he was missing out by being on a 9-holer. As he grew older, he liked how he didn’t have to be super fussy about which 9-holer to go play as the time and money components were generally inconsequential. That is simply not true for 18-holers where spending $100+ to play an indifferent design over 4+ hours horrifies some people, including me. After all, golf was never intended to gobble up all your time and money.

Mike notes that 9-holers outnumbered 18-holers in America until 1974. I didn’t know that but what we all DO know is that 1) 9-holers have long been viewed as inherently inferior to 18-holers in America and 2) that perception is changing. Locally, it has been wonderful to watch how the 9-hole, par 3 Cradle at Pinehurst has captured everyone’s fascination and become ‘must-do’ golf.

The UK embraces its 9-holers, deeming one of them to even be Sacred! Where did America get diverted from the fact that golf courses SHOULD come in all shapes and sizes? This isn’t tennis, our playing fields can be of all sorts of playing dimensions! Mike hints that perhaps one reason that 9-holers haven’t been placed on a pedestal is that some really good ones have been diluted with the addition of another 9, thus robbing that genre of ‘a point of light.’ Too often, an architect was brought in to expand a Golden Age 9-holer on the inferior remaining land. Then, little attempt was made to seamlessly meld with the original 9. Basically, it was a recipe for taking something that was special at one time and insuring that it would never be held in such high esteem again. That is really bad, driven in part by worshiping the false god of championship 18-holers.

That’s why celebrating 9-holers is important. If we embrace them (and I am talking about designs from the likes of Langford & Moreau, Wayne Stiles and Willie Park Jr that are easy to adore), then they will be treated with the respect they deserve. Mike happily highlights some recent restorations such as at Saratoga Golf & Polo whereby 9-holers are being showcased in the manner in which they deserve.

As an added bonus contained in this month’s Feature Interview, Mike makes a very generous offer for three people to come experience 9-holers in the Northeast with him. Read on to learn more!

Mike and I have arrived at the same conclusion through different paths:  we both get the same exhilaration/jolt from being on a course for an hour or hour-and-half as we do spending  ~ 4 hours. Personally, I grew up playing the front 9 at Country Club of Virginia in Richmond in the evenings with my father, mother, two brothers and dog Sandy. More recently, of the ~1,000 times Chris Buie and I have met at the 18-hole Southern Pines GC, I would guess we have played between 6 and 10 holes 95% of the time, in all sorts of hole sequences. Essentially, 9-ish holes IS my ideal, which you can get from playing 9-holers like Mike does and from bouncing around in evening golf like I do on an 18-holer. The important thing is to get out in nature, have a stroll with a friend(s) and benefit from the frequency of doing something healthy and being outdoors. Just one look at some of Mike’s pics and you will realize some of the handsome environs to which his pursuits take him.

Two final big takeaways from Mike’s Feature Interview. One, his mind is a scary place, crammed with all sorts of arcane information. And two, here is a man in North America who derives great pleasure from the sport by playing at beautiful courses that aren’t expensive. We should all be so fortunate/smart.  A lot can be gleaned from this month’s Feature Interview, which makes it a great start to 2021.

Best,
« Last Edit: February 09, 2021, 11:01:04 AM by Ran Morrissett »

Thomas Dai

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2021, 04:34:12 PM »
A terrific and insightful piece. Well done Mike and Ran.
9-hole golf is seriously under-appreciated. Wish there were more.

Atb

PCCraig

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2021, 06:18:41 PM »
Mike certainly lives in the right place to enjoy a 9-hole round!


I enjoyed a long stay in Camden in summer 2019 and enjoyed going up and down the coast checking out the different 9-hole courses. As Ran knows my favorite was Megunticook GC which is just super, super fun. Also nice to see Wawenock pop up in the interview which is another lovely golf course.


Certainly makes sense why there are so many 9-holers in Maine. Can only imagine the founders of these different courses enjoyed a quick 9 holes in the morning followed by a day of sailing, swimming, etc. while on vacation from Boston, New York, etc. A fun, quick round would make the perfect vacation round of golf.


Not super surprised to see the concentration of 9-holers in Iowa and the Dakotas. Always seems like every town has its own little course. Not to stereotype but a lot of farmers and hard-working midwesterners report to work early, leaving plenty of time and daylight in the evening for 9-holes. Construction cost and frugalness probably played into this as well.


Enjoyed the interview. Agreed that we need way more 9-holers!
H.P.S.

Drew Harvie

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2021, 10:45:55 PM »
This is good stuff. Nine holers are oddly overlooked, but there's a lot of quality to be found! Thanks for a great read

MCirba

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2021, 07:13:27 AM »
I grew up on nine-hole courses early on, as well, and look forward to reading Mike's interview today.

I would simply add to Ran's write-up that most nine hole courses have cooler names than their 18, and especially their 27 hole counterparts.  ;)
"Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent" - Calvin Coolidge

https://cobbscreek.org/

Niall C

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2021, 08:26:13 AM »
Ran, once again thanks for an interesting interview. Obviously what was of most interest to me was the Scottish trip that Mike has planned. The only quibble on his choice of nine holers is actually the one he's playing twice which is St Fillans. Not a bad course at all but rather flatter and less interesting than some of the others in the area. I'm not sure how or why it got the best nine holer in Scotland tag but I'd substitute at least one of my games there with Killin (as championed by Tom D) or Strathtay which are both more interesting and quirky as well as being more fun IMO.

Niall

Mike Sweeney

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2021, 08:06:13 PM »
Mike Dutton,


Great and fun interview.


1) Please add me to your list for the June event in Rhode Island - mws13@me.com


2) Would love to hear more about the Sub Course in Groton, CT. I am on a Military course kick, but Sub facilities typically have heavy clearance to get on base.


3) I play a bunch in Maine, and you have covered alot of ground. Thanks for the added tips.


4) Admiral Rickover stories are always appreciated. Maybe the most underrated American hero? Well you Dad may have felt differently as he actually had to serve under him.  :D


Thanks
"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us."

Dr. Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

David Wuthrich

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2021, 10:01:05 AM »
I grew up playing a 9-hole course and never felt inferior or cheated at all.  It was a wonderful experience and sadly it is now gone!

Carl Rogers

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2021, 07:38:01 PM »
High School golf team played 9 hole matches at Needham Golf Club; Needham, MA.
Wayne Stiles course.  If the course had one strong par 4, it would have been a well balanced course.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2021, 11:51:42 PM by Carl Rogers »
I decline to accept the end of man. ... William Faulkner

Lynn_Shackelford

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2021, 11:50:58 AM »
What a delightful exploration into 9 holers, and a search for further enjoyment, self fulfillment and experiencing nature through the sport of golf.  We can all learn and delight from 9 holers as they tend to be authentic.
It must be kept in mind that the elusive charm of the game suffers as soon as any successful method of standardization is allowed to creep in.  A golf course should never pretend to be, nor is intended to be, an infallible tribunal.
               Tom Simpson

jeffwarne

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2021, 09:37:35 PM »
Bravo Mike!
"Let's slow the damned greens down a bit, not take the character out of them." Tom Doak
"Take their focus off the grass and put it squarely on interesting golf." Don Mahaffey

John Mayhugh

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2021, 10:50:58 AM »
That's a devotion to 9 hole courses that I never expected to see.

To me, 9 holes is fine if the interest is there, and it certainly is at places like Culver, Mildenhall, & Cruit Island.

And having 18 is not better if what's there isn't compelling.

Scott Macpherson

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2021, 06:22:53 AM »
Really enjoyed this article on 9-holers. Well done to Ran and Mike. That 4-day trip in Conn sounds great!


I live across the road from a public 9-hole course in Edinburgh (Portobello Golf Club), Scotland, and take my son golfing their regularly. The non-threatening environment of a 9-hole course seems more inviting to golfers – especially those learning the game.


During lockdown last summer, the majority of my golf was on Scottish 9-holes from Durness to St Fillians. I would like to see more of these courses as I also think a good 9-hole course (that fits in with the land) is better than a weak 18. And certainly a 9-hole course is better than no course at all.


Cheers


Scott






Mike Dutton

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2021, 09:27:14 AM »
Bruce Maine Dutton (Dec 14, 1938 - Jan 29, 2021)
My dad died yesterday without knowing of his reference in the intro of this month’s Feature Interview.  We all have someone who started us chasing the little white ball on the turf.  Take a moment to either thank, think about or give respects to that person - because that person gave each of us one of the loves of our lives.
In honor of my dad, I am returning to the US Naval Submarine Base golf course this summer to play with just my five-iron.

Tom_Doak

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2021, 05:58:01 PM »
Bruce Maine Dutton (Dec 14, 1938 - Jan 29, 2021)
My dad died yesterday without knowing of his reference in the intro of this month’s Feature Interview.  We all have someone who started us chasing the little white ball on the turf.  Take a moment to either thank, think about or give respects to that person - because that person gave each of us one of the loves of our lives.
In honor of my dad, I am returning to the US Naval Submarine Base golf course this summer to play with just my five-iron.





Mike:  sorry for your loss.  It sounds like you have a fitting tribute in mind.

Tommy Williamsen

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2021, 09:41:29 AM »
Bruce Maine Dutton (Dec 14, 1938 - Jan 29, 2021)
My dad died yesterday without knowing of his reference in the intro of this month’s Feature Interview.  We all have someone who started us chasing the little white ball on the turf.  Take a moment to either thank, think about or give respects to that person - because that person gave each of us one of the loves of our lives.
In honor of my dad, I am returning to the US Naval Submarine Base golf course this summer to play with just my five-iron.



May your Dad rest in God's embrace. I played with one club with my Dad too.
Where there is no love, put love; there you will find love.
St. John of the Cross

"Deep within your soul-space is a magnificent cathedral where you are sweet beyond telling." Rumi

Kyle Harris

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2021, 06:38:55 AM »
I'm in for the event if *gestures vaguely* world situation allows.

Looking forward to it.
http://kylewharris.com

Constantly blamed by 8-handicaps for their 7 missed 12-footers each round.

Thank you for changing the font of your posts. It makes them easier to scroll past.

Jeff Schley

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Re: Feature Interview with Mike Dutton on 9-holers
« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2021, 12:00:13 AM »
Mike,
Condolences to you for your father. May you only be left with the cherished memories of the past.RIP Mr. Dutton.
Also won't be around for your 9 hole marathon, but look forward to hearing how it goes and if everyone made it through!
"To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice your gifts."
- Steve Prefontaine

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