It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
Can nine-hole golf courses help England find next Jordan Spieth?
England Golf chiefs are hoping to encourage more people to play a nine-hole version of the game in the hopes of drawing greater numbers of participation and discovering an English Jordan Spieth.
The piloted scheme will have an increased emphasis on the nine-hole format, which is being rolled out at a handful of courses to address the startling decline in a number of adults playing full rounds (from 4.1m to 3.3m since 2006).
Pressure has really been placed on the golf chiefs’ shoulders following back-to-back major victories by Jordan Spieth, who at 21 years old has already seen himself rise to World No.2 behind Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.
Speaking about the implementation of nine-hole golf, Chief Executive David Joy said: “I think it’s a really significant and part of the plan and right now it isn’t something that is the norm.
“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.”
When you include Jordan Spieth, the United States of America has four twenty-something golfers in the world’s top 20, vastly superior to England’s none – a damning 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.”
If England want to attract more players to the game, then something needs to be done to draw interest back towards the sport. Will nine-hole golf be enough to achieve that? Only time will tell.