Club golfers throughout Great Britain and Ireland still have the chance to grasp the golfing opportunity of a lifetime and tee it up shortly before the world’s best golfers compete at The 147th Open at Carnoustie next month.
A group of 42 men and women will play the world famous Angus links in the second staging of The R&A’s 9 Hole Championship Final after securing their places through qualifying events run at golf clubs at which they are members.
Clubs across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have been running qualifying events and there is still time to stage one in the coming days.
Spalding Golf Club was among those represented in last year’s final at Royal Birkdale and the Lincolnshire club is again hoping for success in 2018 as they continue to embrace the shorter format of the game for competition purposes.
Up to 80 members play in Spalding’s weekly nine hole Wednesday competitions from April to September, a fact all the more impressive given the club is actually an 18 hole course with the 13th hole coming back to the clubhouse.
Maria Williamson, Club Secretary at Spalding, explains, “Our nine hole competitions are well turned out events with 50 to 80 players every week. It’s just a roll up, they sign the competition book and off they go.
“They are popular, especially for those struggling with time due to family or work commitments. It’s nice for them to come and play a nine hole competition and still count for their handicap.
“But we’re not a nine hole course. The competition ties in with our 13 hole competition, as the 13th here returns to the clubhouse. We do a nine hole qualifying competition and the last four holes are run as a separate competition, with an eclectic at the end of the year for the 13 holes with prizes. The nine hole qualifier is what counts for their handicap.”
The Final of The R&A 9 Hole Championship will be held on Saturday 14 July and will played over the first four and last five holes of the Championship Course at Carnoustie.
With Spalding holding their R&A 9 Hole qualifier on 13 June, it’s a chance for Phil Twedell and Andy Rafferty to relive the experience of playing in front of the famous grandstands at The Open having qualified 12 months ago.
“They loved it,” added Maria. “They said it was fantastically organised and they were looked after really well. It was a great experience for them. I’d definitely encourage more clubs to hold a qualifier as it’s a great incentive through club membership.”
The nine hole event is central to The R&A’s drive to promote this form of golf as an ideal way to enjoy playing the sport in less time, either recreationally or competitively for handicap purposes.
England Golf support
Spalding member James Crampton is a huge supporter of the event given he is also England Golf Championship Director.
Maria adds, “We’re lucky to have James as a member and he points us in the right direction and gets us involved. The members get right behind our activities and we’re looking forward to The R&A 9 Hole event on 13 June.”
The work being achieved by golf’s governing bodies in Great Britain and Ireland to promote nine hole golf and shorter formats as a way of enjoying the sport in less time, either recreationally or for handicap purposes, was illustrated by recent figures which demonstrate the rising popularity of competitive nine hole golf.
England Golf, for example, has reported a 50% increase in nine hole competitive scores returned between 2014 and 2017 (70,127 to 105,254).
Nine hole qualifying events are open to men, women, boys and girls who are club members with a CONGU handicap. Please visit www.randa.org/9HoleChampionship for more information.