Golf has often earned the reputation as being too exclusive and inaccessible to be considered a mainstream sport that everyone can participate in. The reason is that golf has often taken too long to play while coming at an exorbitant cost. Enter the short course to save the day. Short courses allow players at every skill level to play a quick round and work on their skills at the same time.
The reason why people often find it difficult to play golf on a consistent basis is because it takes two to four or more hours to play nine or eighteen holes. The cost of golf is wide ranging, but it often takes up a large amount of your discretionary income. To their collective credit, many golf courses saw the trend of decreasing rounds played before the pandemic and started making plans to pivot towards developing short courses that create the best of both worlds for courses and golfers alike.
Short courses live up to their name and allow for a casual round that is less taxing on a golfer because you don’t need to use every club in the bag. Short courses are still a challenge because they make you use your wedges and putter consistently. Often the undulations on the greens make it very exciting to putt long distances and challenge a golfer’s creativity. The pace of play is also a very attractive aspect of short courses. Generally nine holes make up a short course and the holes are in close proximity to each other. As a result, short courses allow a golfer to complete a round without much effort, expense or time. This trifecta solves many of golf’s most vexing problems when it comes to accessibility.
Traditional golf courses have not viewed short courses with disdain or as competitors. They have actually invested in them and often developed the courses right next to the long course. This also allows traditional golf courses to get an ancillary revenue stream while also making their long courses a destination. Pairing lodging with long and short courses has become a winning combination for a diverse set of golf aficionados. The success of this model has fueled some significant growth in rounds played.
There is no doubt that the increase in rounds played is to some extent the result of the pandemic. However, there is a significant part of golf’s growth that is attributable to the development and evolution of the short course coming into golf’s mainstream. The timing was fortuitous, but the investment was deliberate and is now paying dividends to the entire golf world. Players who get a taste of the short course often stay and play the long courses as well. Conversely, traditional golfers see the short course as a nice way to hone their short game. This win-win proposition is fueling growth and paving the way for the future of golf.