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A Publication of the National Golf Foundation

Questions, Answers and Insights for Everyone Interested in the Business of Golf

9-Hole Play Is Up During Pandemic

by National Golf Foundation

August 2020

Have you gotten out to play nine holes in recent months?

If so, you’re not alone.

Golf course operators report that afternoon and evening tee times have been popular, which seems right given that Covid-19 has changed the contours of the work day for many. Sorting through recent NGF golf participation and engagement research, the number of short loops (as a percentage of total loops) is up over 15% in 2020.

Core golfers report that 33% of their rounds this year have been of the nine-hole variety, while occasional golfers tell us that nearly half (48%) of the rounds they’re playing are nine holes. This will be seen as good news by many, especially the USGA given their PLAY9 initiative, and would indicate that the “time barrier” to golf is being overcome by more golfers.

We’ve talked about the increase in beginners and youth golfers, so clearly the late-day tee times aren’t just for the work-at-home crowd.

With late summer days, those nine-hole twilight rounds present the perfect opportunity for families to get to the course after an early dinner, or newcomers to get more comfortable with the game.

9-Hole Supply in the U.S. 

Did you know that up until 1974, there were more nine-hole golf facilities in the U.S. than those with 18 or more holes?

18 holes wasn’t always the preferred layout. Indeed, many of today’s 18-hole courses were built in two stages — nine holes at a time. Today, there are 3,777 nine-hole golf facilities in the U.S. that account for about 26% of the total supply.


The seven states with more nine-hole facilities than 18 or 27?

Iowa — 248 vs 135
Kansas — 137 vs 101
Nebraska — 123 vs 90
North Dakota — 88 vs 28
South Dakota — 79 vs 40
Maine — 72 vs 60
Alaska — 14 vs 6

And yes, Iowa has more nine-hole golf facilities than any other state in the nation. The only other state with more than 200 nine-holers is Texas, with 202.

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National Golf Foundation

The National Golf Foundation is a community of individuals and golf businesses committed to being the most well-informed advocates for the growth of the industry. With the world’s largest research team dedicated to golf, NGF provides members with the most accurate and objective insights on the game. We help golf businesses better understand their market and grow their businesses. The NGF is the only association for everyone in golf, and we advocate for growth by educating and connecting our members.

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For the NGF’s latest research and information about how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the golf industry, please click here.