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Why You Don't Always Have to Play 18 Holes

By: Golfshake Editor | Fri 27 May 2022 | Comments

With free time becoming increasingly sparse, many golfers have pointed to pace of play as one of their main issues with the game in the modern age. Golfers still want to get out on the course, but can no longer justify the 5-hour slog (could this ever be justified?!). As such, there’s been an increase in popularity for people opting to play less than the customary 18-holes. Join us as we explain why we adore a shorter round of golf.


We’ll start with the obvious, and aforementioned. It just takes less time to play less than 18. Whether you’re looking to squeeze in a quick 9-holes, or fancy killing a free hour or so around a three or four-hole loop, a round of golf can be as long or short as you wish! Remember, golf is supposed to be a game that we enjoy, and playing a little bonus golf can be incredibly rewarding. What’s more, playing a little more often will almost certainly help your scores, making the experience even more enjoyable.

Rather than sitting on the couch and watching another Netflix true-crime drama on Sunday afternoon, why not nip up to the golf club for a few holes. It’ll do you the world of good, and be much better for your brain than trying to work out whether it was the ex-husband again (spoiler: it probably was).

No Time Limit on Fun!

Let’s be honest, although the game is supposed to be fun it can sometimes it can be downright tough - particularly if you’re just starting out. Many golfers may see more improvement from spending time on the range or with a PGA Professional than heading out onto the course, but that’s not why we play. That doesn’t give you that thrill of hitting a great shot to a tough pin. Or that tranquil feeling of playing as the sun sets on a summer’s evening. You don’t need to play a 18-holes to experience these sensations, and dependent on where you are with your golf game, a full round can sometimes feel like simply extending your misery! Golfers of all abilities can have just as much fun playing a shorter round, saving the more serious work for the driving range.


Length of Walk

Dependent on where you play, your own level of fitness, and even the weather, golf can be a taxing walk. Playing less than 18 can save your legs and back for another day, or act as a nice rehabilitation for those coming back from some time away from the game. You’ll see some of the best players in the world play just 9-holes on the Tuesday or Wednesday of tournament week, keeping themselves fresh for the start of the event. Whilst we’re not all pegging it up in The Open, we each have our own commitments to meet, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with turning up to these at your best after forgoing a full 18-holes the day before.

Post-Work Detox

Sometimes you just need to clear your head and golf can be the perfect outlet. There’s few things more joyful than nipping round a few holes after work before dinner to take your mind off the day’s events - heck, your partner may even thank you for not bringing those work stresses home! Playing a full 18-holes each evening is often not feasible, but a quick 9-holes could be ideal. At every course in the land you’ll see these pre-dinner swishers, whacking away their work-related problems before practically skipping home to spend time with the family. Why not join them this summer?

Dedicated Practice

It’s tough to work on particular aspects of your game in the middle of the monthly medal. Firstly, you’re still trying to score well. But secondly, and most importantly, you only get one go at each shot. If you’re looking to put some actual on-course effort into your game, you’re often going to need to hit a few balls from the same spot, and spending time hitting shots (rather than walking between them) is essential. If you’re going to do this, you’ll want it to be over just a handful of holes, otherwise you really could be out there for some time!

Golf clubs will each have their own rules about practicing on the course, but we’re yet to hear of one that would be adverse to you hitting a couple of chip shots whilst wandering around a few holes - as long as you were staying out of the way of other golfers. Just please remember to your repair pitchmarks and divots, and to avoid hitting dozens of shots from the same square yard of fairway, unless you want to face the wrath of your greenkeepers …

Curing You Card-Wrecker

You know which hole(s) we’re talking about! You’re two-under your handicap in the monthly competition, but you’re coming up to your least favourite hole. That one that always gets you! Fear not - playing less than 18-holes can help to provide a cure to this regular blemish on your scorecard, both physically and mentally.

Firstly the physical. As per the previous section, one advantage of just whipping round a few holes is the chance to hit a couple of balls on each. Whatever makes this hole so daunting to you, having the opportunity to practice a few shots can only help, hopefully providing you with good shots to recall the next time you’re on the tee box. Figure out a loop that includes this hole, and try to play it regularly.

In terms of the mental aspect, and dependent on how much a certain hole may be in your head, playing less than 18-holes simply gives you less chance to worry about it! You can’t be thinking about it for three hours if you’re only out there for 90 minutes! We guarantee this will make the rest of your round more enjoyable, and is highly likely to improve your overall on-course mindset too.

A Focus on Scoring

As you begin to improve, it’s helpful to mentally break the course up into sections in your mind when thinking about scoring. Can you play 3-holes in +3? Can you play 6-holes in level par? Can you play 9 or 12-holes under par? Wherever you are with your game, achieving smaller milestones like this will help you build up to better scoring over all 18-holes, giving you confidence that you’re capable of stringing some good scoring together. Plus, with the WHS coming into play in recent years, golfers are now able to even include 9-hole rounds for the purposes of handicaps - a great way to get used to putting scorecards in regularly.

A Creative Loop

Want to just play your favourite holes? Why not! Create your own mini-loops around your home course for maximum enjoyment in the minimum amount of time! We appreciate that courses will have restrictions, and this may not be feasible on a Saturday morning - but what better way to spend your time at the course than by just playing the holes you love. Your chosen routing obviously needs to be feasible, but club members will be familiar already with well-trodden shorter routes, and for those less in the know, 15 minutes on Google Earth can tell you all you need to know!

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