Should You Play 9 Holes Or 18?


When it comes to golf in the modern age, a lot of people feel like they don’t have the time to dedicate to going out on the golf course for hours at a time.

In the past, you could get around the course a lot quicker than you could these days. You used to be able to get through a full 18 holes in three and a half hours, but now you are looking at closer to five or more hours for a full round. This is largely due to courses becoming longer and more difficult.

When people have other hobbies and commitments that they have to look after, like spending time with their families, dedicating more time to the course is difficult. This is why lots of golfers now just play nine holes, as the course can be finished in half the time and people can get on with the rest of their days.

That’s not to say that playing 18 holes doesn’t have its advantages — because it does. Here are some of the benefits of both options.

When you should play nine holes

Time constraints

If you are extremely busy with work, family and other commitments, it can be hard to find time to squeeze in a full 18 holes of golf. You just don’t have enough time in the evenings after work and the weekends are jam-packed with all sorts of different activities.

You can easily get nine holes played in the evening after work when there is plenty of sunlight. You will also improve your game more by playing nine holes of golf as opposed to spending the same time on the driving range for two hours.

Many people can hit the ball perfectly on the driving range, but when they get out on the course, they don’t know how to deal with the various lies, conditions and situations that are thrown up. By playing more actual golf, your performance levels will rise accordingly.

Physical constraints

Golf is often seen as being a great sport for older people. As the body can no longer take the rigorous demands of high impact sports like tennis and badminton, many people turn to golf. It’s a great form of both exercise and enjoyment, but an entire 18 holes may be a bit too much for a lot of people physically.

When you start to get tired on the golf course, your shots will become sloppier and your performance will suffer. This can be frustrating and you might find that you are simply slugging your way through the back nine holes and not really enjoying the experience by the end of the round.

Nine holes is a perfect way to get a great piece of exercise under your belt, while still keeping your time on the course thoroughly enjoyable.

When you should play 18 holes


Many business deals are done on the golf course. This is because you are out in an environment where people are more laid back and have plenty of time to talk about various topics and get to know one another. You can develop great relationships when you are spending four to five hours out on a golf course with a colleague or potential business partner.

This arena will also help you to figure out what type of person you are dealing with. Do they get very competitive or easily frustrated? Are they trustworthy or always trying to bend the rules? You can learn a lot about someone by playing a round of golf with them. Nine holes are often too short of a time period to get into deep and meaningful conversations with your playing partners, so opt for the longer course to build solid relationships.

Sharpening up your game

If you have a big tournament or competition coming up, you want your game to be in tip-top shape. This means that you are getting used to the various situations a golf course will throw at you. The overwhelming majority of events and competitions consist of 18 holes, so you need to be adequately prepared for this.

If you are only playing nine holes at a time, your body will not be used to the longer duration spent on the course and you will get tired a lot quicker in the competition, as opposed to if you were playing full 18-hole practice rounds. You are also going to be hitting more shots when playing 18 holes, so you can move your game along more rapidly, as you will be able to pick up on consistent patterns that are cropping up in your game and deal with them appropriately.

— Andrew O’Malley