Golf chiefs plan to encourage more people to play a nine-hole version of the game in the hope of raising participation levels and unearthing an English Jordan Spieth.
England Golf is piloting an increased emphasis on the nine-hole game at a handful of courses to address a decline in the number of adults playing full rounds from 4.1m to 3.3m since 2006. American prodigy Spieth, 21, completed back-to-back Major victories by winning the US Open on Sunday.
“I think it’s a really significant and part of the plan and right now it isn’t something that is the norm,” chief executive David Joy said of nine-hole golf. “A couple of years ago in the States it wasn’t normal to have a nine-hole tee time. When the biggest tee time provider introduced that there were literally hundreds of thousands of nine-hole tee times booked within 18 months. It’s about putting the product out there and that’s now what we intend to do.”
Spieth included, the United States has four twenty-somethings in the world’s top 20 to England’s none – a statistic Joy puts down to the hot-house environment of American college sports.
“It’s no coincidence that some of the top amateurs England can now draw on are also embedded in the States university program,” he said. “It’s a real advantage, it’s not something that we have here so we continue to explore our own competitive advantage.”