Golf: Shortened game offered to lure more members

New Zealand golf officials believe a shortened form of the game will attract more players to the sport.

The 9 Hole challenge was launched today, a nationally run initiative that officials think will appeal to those with busy lifestyles who still want the benefits that the traditional form of the game provides.

The concept will be launched to all clubs in the country with the challenge incorporating club events, regional qualifiers and a national final.

New Zealand Golf (NZG) chief executive Bill MacGowan said research showed that many wanted to play golf but did not want to play the full 18 holes for a number of reasons.

"People have much busier lifestyles these days, some have physical challenges and there are a number of other reasons why they do not want to play the traditional 18 holes of golf," he said.

"The research showed that many would play more golf and potentially join golf clubs if there was a formal 9 Hole format offered."

The initiative will include a revamping of NZG's handicapping process to not only allow formal 9 Hole handicaps but also allow players to have their cards from playing nine holes contribute towards their 18-hole handicap.

"That will give them a formal handicap to play in open competitions and means that 9 Hole golf will have the same status as the more traditional form of the game.

"This shorter version of the game is fun, quick and inclusive. It offers a fun way to exercise with your friends and family. Best of all it is a game that can fit into a busy working week.

"There are more than 300,000 people who play golf in this country who are not members of golf clubs. Our research shows that many of them would play more often with a formal 9 Hole golf format and many would look to join a golf club if this option was open to them."

Former Olympic cycling gold medallist Sarah Ulmer and All Blacks great Grant Fox are ambassadors for the 9 Hole challenge.

- NZPA

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