The United States Golf Association (USGA) is planning to expand its PLAY9 programme over the next 12 months following a successful first two years.
Since its formation in 2014, PLAY9 has aimed encourage golfers to play nine-hole rounds of golf, offering an effective and simple way to fit a round into a busy day.
In the programme’s first year, the USGA’s Golf Handicap and Information Network noted a 13 per cent year-on-year increase in nine-hole score posts in the two months following the initial launch. An 11 per cent increase was also recorded in 2015.
As part of the upcoming expansion, the USGA is encouraging more golfers to play nine holes during six scheduled ‘PLAY9 Days’ throughout the golf season. The first of these takes place on 9 May, and will take place on the ninth day of every month until October.
“What we love about PLAY9 is the opportunity to welcome more people – both recreational golfers and non-golfers alike – to enjoy the great game of golf,” said Mike Davis, USGA executive director/CEO. “We’re clearly excited about the results we’ve seen, committed to expanding the program and optimistic about its long-term potential to grow globally.”
As well as the specific PLAY9 days, the USGA is encouraging golf facilities to host nine-hole ‘play’ events whenever convenient. The association is working with the National Golf Foundation, state and regional golf associations, and allied partners such as the LPGA, The First Tee and AJGA to help expand its dedicated PLAY9 microsite. This site now includes additional PLAY9 content, suggested PLAY9 Day games and activities, and promotional templates in print and digital form.
Nine-hole golf facilities make up more than 30 per cent of public courses in the US, and 90 per cent of 18-hole public facilities offer nine-hole rates.
“We are encouraged by what we have seen from the first two years of the PLAY9 programme and fully support the potential of growing the game through this initiative,” said Chris Montgomery, director of communications and marketing partnerships for the Arizona Golf Association. “PLAY9 offers a great fit for the fast-paced modern world and allows our members to play the game they love, post their scores, and introduce their friends and family at a lower cost and time commitment.”