12 is the New 18

As seen in Troon Golf & Travel Magazine

MACKIN AND I WERE BATTLING it out on the course a few weeks ago. When I say “battling,” it was not, to be clear, against each other: Tom carded a semi-smooth 80-something (with just one shot over the cliff and out toward a breaching whale); I shot a not-so-smooth 90-something (with too many over the cliff, in the lava, or otherwise flubbed to count). No, by “battling” I mean we were trying as hard as we could to finish 18 holes.

We’re both healthy guys in the “between 50 and 60” age category. Both avid golfers. But somewhere along the line, 18 holes became a grind. It takes too long and takes more out of me than I care to give a recreational round. As it turns out, 12 seems to be the perfect number.

Now before you go getting all purist and traditional on me, recall that original layout at St Andrews was 12 holes. The first Open Championship was contested on a 12-hole course at Prestwick, Scotland. Jack Nicklaus’s Muirfield Village in Ohio has a 12-hole loop with its own scorecard set within the “regulation” 18-hole design.

Nicklaus, along with Greg Norman, Tom Doak and a long list of others, has long been a proponent of 12-hole courses, with Nicklaus quoted as saying, “It’s the health of the game, the growth of the game, keeping people in the game, that I’m interested in.”

So much has been made of novelty efforts such as FootGolf and HackGolf (15-inch cups) – and yes, there’s the purist and traditionalist in me sticking my nose skyward – that I wonder why more facilities don’t look at selling “real golf” options other than 18 holes where possible. The success of those facilities who have tried it – not to mention the enjoyment of the players who have tried it – leads me to believe that the idea is a bona fide solution to some of golf’s lingering participation, time, and revenue problems … all without having to bastardize the game.

Not that I’m against 18 holes. By all means, play as many holes as you like, and hopefully on a Troon course near you! But if 60 is the new 30 – as I’ve taken to telling anyone who will listen since I just celebrated my 60th birthday in December – I’ll also jump on the bandwagon and declare that 12 is the new 18.

So treat yourself right … get out and play 12 today!

Happy New Year!

George Fuller,

Editorial Director