'Saying half a loaf is better than nothing" is not quite right. People in the golf business are trying to point out that playing nine holes can be as satisfying as a full meal. "We like to say, 'Nine is fine,'" said Cristy Jurgens, the pro at Spring Lake Golf Club in Middle Island, which has a separate nine-hole course.
There seems to be support for that idea. A study just released by the National Golf Foundation said that nearly 75 percent of U.S. golfers interviewed said they play nine at least occasionally (although only five percent said they play only nine-hole rounds). Industry people believe it is a solution to the double-barrel problem of golf being too time consuming and expensive.
The NGF added that there probably should be more nine-hole rounds, but many golfers believe anything less than 18 just is not golf. Also, if you charge for only nine at an 18-hole facility, how do you prevent customers from playing the other nine for free?
During a media outing at Spring Lake this past Monday, Jurgens said the challenge for its Sandpiper course is that many people assume it is an "executive" par-3 layout. It actually is a par-36 that begins and finishes with par-5 holes (the former is a Long Island classic, with two carries over water).
Still, industry people insist a nine-hole round is worth trying and promoting -- especially at this time of year, when days are shorter. The Metropolitan Golf Association accepts nine-hole scores for handicapping purposes. Some clubs hold Nine and Dine outings, with late-afternoon golf followed by dinner.
Bergen Point, a Suffolk County course, does a solid nine-hole business before 7:30 a.m. and toward dusk. The price is as low as $9 for seniors. Nine can be a magic number at private clubs, too, such as Port Jefferson Country Club, where medical professionals come out at daybreak, play and still get to the office in time for their first patients.
Jean Bartholomew of Garden City, the former LPGA tour player, still has game at 46. On Wednesday, she won the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional tournament for a third time. Her five-stroke win in the 54-hole event at Braselton, Ga., qualified her for next year's Wegmans LPGA Championship, one of the five majors in women's golf. At the Wegmans this past year, she said that despite playing much less than teaching, "You'd be surprised how your mind-set gets back into it."
Locals play with pros
Brittany Ferrante of Huntington Station is teamed with Rocco Mediate and Casey Durant of New Hyde Park is partnered with Scott Hoch this weekend in The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. It is the Champions Tour's version of the old Bing Crosby Pro-Am, with a pro playing the entire event with an amateur. In this case, instead of celebrities and captains of industry, the amateurs are teenagers involved in The First Tee program. Ferrante, who attends Whitman High, said it was her dream to play with Mediate, who took Tiger Woods to an extra hole in the 2008 U.S. Open playoff. Durant attends Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.
An interesting 2013 on Long Island, with the U.S. Women's Open and Walker Cup, set the tone for a busy stretch: U.S. Women's Amateur next year at Nassau Country Club, The Barclays at Bethpage Black in 2016, U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in 2018, and PGA Championship and Ryder Cup at the Black in 2019 and 2024.