Six hole golf courses

rosecott

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Around 3 years ago there was a lot of talk about courses being split up,into perhaps two X 9 or three X 6 holes to enable people to whizz around in an hour or so, I.e quick fire golf as many people did not have the time anymore for 18 holes and memberships were dropping and clubs closing in some cases. I have never seen this happen in terms of breaking a course up in this way and while it would be controversial I would be in favour of this in some cases, I would love to be able to go and play a 6 hole round due to business constraints. Has anyone seen this happen

I seem to remember something in the magazine a few years ago about the European Tour trying 6-hole competitions.
 

sunshine

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I seem to remember something in the magazine a few years ago about the European Tour trying 6-hole competitions.

Golf sixes. Was held at Centurion in Hertfordshire for the first 2 years. Just outside London, good crowd, fun atmosphere, very inclusive welcome to newbies / children. Pretty successful I thought. Last year it was held in Portugal so minimal crowds, I'm guessing this year fell victim to the virus.
 

Grant85

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Around 3 years ago there was a lot of talk about courses being split up,into perhaps two X 9 or three X 6 holes to enable people to whizz around in an hour or so, I.e quick fire golf as many people did not have the time anymore for 18 holes and memberships were dropping and clubs closing in some cases. I have never seen this happen in terms of breaking a course up in this way and while it would be controversial I would be in favour of this in some cases, I would love to be able to go and play a 6 hole round due to business constraints. Has anyone seen this happen

I think this is something that should and is being done with any new courses. And it's not unreasonable for a course to have changed an 'out and back' layout to 2 loops of 9 if this was feasible... however the big problem with this is that there are already plenty of courses in the UK and there really isn't a business case or a desire to go tearing up courses and repositioning several holes to a more desirable layout.

What I would like to see is the rules changed to allow competition golf to be played over whatever number of holes a club or committee decide. At the moment the rules are 9 or 18 holes. Being more flexible on this may allow courses to sell off land and move to, say, a 12 hole layout. Perhaps include a bit of investment in the remaining 12 holes, facilities and club house. Then they have a course that is quicker to play, cheaper to maintain and perhaps attractive to the types of members you are speaking about who can't spend 5 hours at a golf club on a Saturday.

Obviously it won't be possible or attractive to a lot of courses with original layouts still intact or with thriving membership bases, but I believe in areas with a high number of golf courses - this would be a nice option for courses to have in order to become more sustainable and have their own unique selling point that was just that bit of a step up from a 9 hole course.
 

Orikoru

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I can't be easy logistically to take bookings for 18, plus 9 or 6 holes on the same track. If you book out the back nine or last six holes it might clash with someone finishing their eighteen, you've got no way of knowing. Or if you book everyone off the first, the front nine is packed and the back nine might be half empty. :unsure:
 

sunshine

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Not being rude the point here has been lost. I am talking about changing the game....literally, 6 hole membership and six hole competitions anyone who is retired will not agree or get it I suspect but perhaps that's rude as well, I am talking about 6 hole golf, get home after work and boom a six hole match and a membership that is built for a whole new format, some clubs are closing and memberships in the traditional way is shrinking.....fact

I think a lot of the replies don't answer your original question....

Northwick Park in Harrow was originally designed as a 6 hole course when it opened about 15 years ago. The idea was to have well maintained and challenging proper length holes (ie not pitch and putt) that you could get round in an hour. Interesting concept, but it didn't work. The course has now evolved to a 9 holer.

I think people prefer to have a membership at an 18 hole course because it offers more variety and flexibility. If you're short on time, you can pop out and play a few holes. If you have more time you can play more. I think anyone who was a member at Northwick Park when it was a 6 holer probably also had membership at another 18 hole course.

Golf involves a lot of walking. Playing 6 holes in an hour you might only hit 24 shots, that's not much golf. If I only had an hour at Northwick Park I would spend 20 minutes on the range, 20 minutes chipping and pitching, 20 minutes putting. That feels like a much more productive use of an hour.
 

Fore Right!

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not sure I'd bother to travel, unload and only play 6 holes (unless just looking to practice perhaps).... it also regularly takes me 6 holes to warm up / start playing some decent golf :rolleyes:
 

garyinderry

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6 holes is nowhere near enough golf unless you are literally walking out the front door and onto the tee.

We regularly play 11 holes which takes us around a lake and back to the clubhouse.

Just enough golf to satisfy any cravings.
 

HomerJSimpson

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Can't see any club building a specific 6 hole course and not many will have the inclination to make 3 x 6 loops just to satisfy a very latent demand for shorter courses and competitions. We can get round as a four ball in peak time Saturday and Sunday morning in an hour and a half so would argue anyone wanting a comp can easily do the recognised nine hole format in not much time. As for memberships shrinking, we've picked up over 100 members since we came out of lockdown, some on the 3 month incentive scheme we've got and some have taken the plunge and got full membership. Some courses will fail but that is an economic issue based on how they've run the club long before Covid hit. Either way the club has got decent income coming in again to try and make up for some of the lost revenue from societies and green fees
 

pendodave

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We have 3 loops of 6, so in normal times have 7 and 13 as alternative starting holes.
We often play 12 of an evening, but 6 would hardly be worth going up there.
 

sunshine

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For many sports, an hour is plenty. Booking a squash court, badminton court, 5-a-side pitch etc are all 1 hour slots. Unless you like marathons, an hour run is more than enough, for me 30 mins is plenty. Not golf though, an hour disappears in a flash.
 

Sully

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I think 6 holes would be too short . My club the shire has a dedicated 9 hole accademy course and an 18.

The 9 hole takes me around an 90min to 105mins to do.

I’m a member of the academy course , and can play the 18 when I want by playing a supplement.
But with work/family 9 hole suits me fine, you don’t need to book a tee time. Isn’t too short , not too long .
wish there were more 9 holes - not sure about 6.
 
D

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Perhaps include a bit of investment in the remaining 12 holes, facilities and club house. Then they have a course that is quicker to play, cheaper to maintain
Why do you think it will be cheaper to maintain? A shorter course can accomodate fewer members but you still have the same overheads as a full size course (clubhouse, car park, greenkeepers machinery etc) so the cost per capita is likely to be more expensive.
 

Grant85

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Why do you think it will be cheaper to maintain? A shorter course can accomodate fewer members but you still have the same overheads as a full size course (clubhouse, car park, greenkeepers machinery etc) so the cost per capita is likely to be more expensive.

Seriously... you think a course with 2/3 the number of holes & greens will cost the same to maintain?

There are dozens of consumables that will cost a club far less with quite a bit less land & golf course to maintain;
* greenkeeper hours
* wear & tear on machinery (how often you have to replace machinery should boost finances)
* fuel for machinery
* fertiliser
* sand for bunkers and greens
* drainage projects
* path maintenance
* rateable value of land will reduce and so will reduce rates and cost of Sky (if the club has that)

Even just daft things like when you come to replace flags, cups, bunker rakes, bins etc. All adds up.

Appreciate fixed costs, like how much a clubhouse is to run and staff won't change much, but most courses spend the majority of their revenue maintaining the golf course.

Plus the fact you've potentially been able to sell 24 or more acres of land to raise capital to make improvements to facilities.

As I said, it's not for everyone, but I think in areas where there are quite a few golf courses, maybe one or two would look seriously at some kind of plan like this and would / could still be attractive to members who were short on time but still wanted to get competitive golf in at a lower price.
 
D

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Seriously... you think a course with 2/3 the number of holes & greens will cost the same to maintain?

There are dozens of consumables that will cost a club far less with quite a bit less land & golf course to maintain;
* greenkeeper hours
* wear & tear on machinery (how often you have to replace machinery should boost finances)
* fuel for machinery
* fertiliser
* sand for bunkers and greens
* drainage projects
* path maintenance
* rateable value of land will reduce and so will reduce rates and cost of Sky (if the club has that)

Even just daft things like when you come to replace flags, cups, bunker rakes, bins etc. All adds up.

Appreciate fixed costs, like how much a clubhouse is to run and staff won't change much, but most courses spend the majority of their revenue maintaining the golf course.

Plus the fact you've potentially been able to sell 24 or more acres of land to raise capital to make improvements to facilities.

As I said, it's not for everyone, but I think in areas where there are quite a few golf courses, maybe one or two would look seriously at some kind of plan like this and would / could still be attractive to members who were short on time but still wanted to get competitive golf in at a lower price.
I get all that but a 9 or 12 hole course cannot accommodate as many members as an 18 hole course but they still have a lot of the same fixed costs. An 18 hole club will likely have about 600 members but a 9 holer half that amount. Just look at how many 36 hole complexes there are. The subs aren't twice as much as an 18 hole course, they are often the same because they have twice as many members to spread the fixed costs against.
 

Orikoru

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For many sports, an hour is plenty. Booking a squash court, badminton court, 5-a-side pitch etc are all 1 hour slots. Unless you like marathons, an hour run is more than enough, for me 30 mins is plenty. Not golf though, an hour disappears in a flash.
Yeah exactly, I think because so much of it is just walking. It's like 30 seconds hitting the ball, then 3 minutes walking to get to it again. So in one hour's worth of golf you might have only hit 15 shots, plus putts. That really doesn't seem worth the journey.
 

ScienceBoy

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I think 14 holes is the ideal, just enough but not too many.

There are three big issues to tackle.

1. The time to play a round
2. Slow play during a round
3. Ability to maintain a course so ball is easier to find.

The way to make the game more appealing is to address all three in the correct proportion.

If all three are addressed correctly the game will speed up no end and we can all get a fun, challenging round of golf in!

I certainly don’t think quick is all a round should be, it is that nice consistent pace with reasonable pause to think and not a contestant flurry of activity and then nothing for ages.
 
D

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On the home course, we could easily play 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16 or 17 holes, and for evening games when it is quiet have played any combination of those.

if busy you can play 4, 9, 12, 14 or 16 holes easily and walk back to the clubhouse very quickly (well from 12 you do have to walk across hole 14, but we do that quite often in the evening, we did it last night for example).

Has it made the course more popular to have those choices, no I would say.

And I always want to play more than 18 holes.:oops:
 

The Fader

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I am sure that there is some demand for "short time" golf but whether it warrants a wholesale rebuilding / modification of golf courses I very much doubt. Also the monitoring of who's played how many holes would be an administrative burden few clubs could afford unless they already have marshalls on the course

As many have said, members can chose to play any number of holes so that gives total flexibility and is one of the major benefits of membership but it is upto Golf courses to be inventive if they want to atttract that type of visitor / nomad.

At my club we don't have a 9 hole rate - visitors must always pay for 18 - but if they return to reception after 9 holes they are given a voucher to complete another 9 holes at a future date. Obviously under current circumstances of pre-booked times and details being left for track and trace it allows reception staff to be fairly clear how long a group have been out for. There is of course an element of trust attached to the 2nd visit but so far we are not aware of habitual abuse.
 

Grant85

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I get all that but a 9 or 12 hole course cannot accommodate as many members as an 18 hole course but they still have a lot of the same fixed costs. An 18 hole club will likely have about 600 members but a 9 holer half that amount. Just look at how many 36 hole complexes there are. The subs aren't twice as much as an 18 hole course, they are often the same because they have twice as many members to spread the fixed costs against.

Agree, but if an 18 hole course had 600 members then it almost certainly doesn't need to change it's model.

I'm talking about clubs with more like 300 members who are struggling. Lets say it's £1,000 per year, for easy counting. That gives them £300k revneue - plus an extra £100 from each member in spending throughout the year... so they have £330k to run a golf course, club, property etc.

Lets say they sell land for housing and raise £1 million after fees and taxes.
They spend £250k moving 2 greens and tees to better suit a 12 hole layout, as well as doing some other drainage works and rebunkering around the course that they had been putting off.
They spend another £250k modernising the clubhouse.
Another £250k to pay down remaining finance on equipment so they own all the equipment.
Put £250k in the bank.
They still have 3 holes worth of land they haven't sold that isn't being used and doesn't have to be maintained.

They can manage with 4 rather than 5 greenskeepers, so that is £30,000 of salary / seasonal adjustment / overtime saved (however you save it)
And other maintenance costs reduce by a further £10,000 in terms of fertiliser, sand, fuel etc.
So £40,000 saving.

There are other savings in relation to equipment & interest as they have paid off their leases and the equipment can now be written down over a longer period due to less maintenance.

They reduce their fees to £750 due to being a 12 hole course, so they are £75,000 down on members fees. But only £35,000 down in cash flow due to the savings made.
They have the £250,000 in the bank - so no issues covering any shortfall for a year or two.

Due to the rennovated clubhouse and cheaper fees - they manage to attract 30 new members in the 1st year, and a further 40 in the 2nd year. Existing members who previously only played at the weekend find that they play an extra game during the week as they can get a 2 hour round in after work from May to September.
This means they now have 370 member paying £750 each, plus average spend of each member has gone up by £20 a year due to playing a bit more.
They take in £277,500 in members fees
And a further £44,400 from average spending over the year.
So they have £321,900 revenue (only £8,100 less than before) but considerably lower costs, more members, renovated clubhouse and a few quid in the bank.

They also have 3 holes worth of land that can be sold in the future when the new properties are established and it will likely be worth more.

Obviously this is just rough numbers and it won't work everywhere, but I think it would transform a reasonable number of clubs where the numbers and the geography works. If 12 hole competitions were allowed then this could become a blue print for a lot of clubs to keep golf available for more people. But as it is, it's 9 or 18 only.
 
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