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What’s a 9-hole course worth to you?

Nine-hole courses can be as scenic and as challenging as 18-hole courses. (Note, this image comes from an 18-hole course)!

Is a 9-hole course worth anything?

It’s amazing to hear someone say that a 9-hole course isn’t worth the land it’s on. But I’ve heard that — more than once.

This came up recently on one of the local club’s message boards. There was discussion about a 9-hole course and one of the area players was quite adamant about the waste that is a 9-hole course.

Someone asked about a possible course and if it would start as a 9-hole layout. They were told that it would be 18.

A response came about “it must be” 18 holes. And that “most people” think the 9-hole courses are a joke. Nobody plays or cares about them. And, of course, no tournaments.

And being this person said it, it must be the truth, right?

What followed was some banter where people defended 9-hole courses and, of course, couldn’t sway the naysayer.

Apparently, it’s a mental exercise for people to argue in favor of a 9-hole course, he noted. Yet, his brain doesn’t have enough cells to argue with “this sort of craziness.”

Then, as if this was a court case with closing arguments, it was noted that “Disc golf courses have 18 holes. Period. More than 18 is even better.”

Quite the interesting situation, I’d say.

The benefits of a 9-hole course are easy enough to explain — it’s a place for people to play, it gives options, you can get through a 9-hole course quick enough and, if in a good spot, it can be just as challenging and scenic as an 18-hole course.

The fact that one person feels his opinion is the ultimate say on this matter doesn’t irritate me. That happens in everyday life. But the realization here is that 9-hole courses do have their place in this game.

I’m quite sure I’ve noted here before that if I want to play a legitimate round of disc golf, I need to travel about 1 hour, 20 minutes. By legitimate, I mean a course with a real layout and baskets. There’s a 9-hole course on some college property about 15 miles from me, but there’s no signs, no rhyme or reason to the layout and it’s basically baskets in the woods. I’ve seen 18-hole courses like this, too, so it’s not just a 9-hole course.

Over the past couple of years, a local player has fought to get a course in the ground in the next city over from me. Where the course is proposed, I can get to it in 20 minutes.

But with red tape and everything else, the course is in limbo.

Many local people — in my town — have talked to me about disc golf. They’ve wondered what it would be like to have a small course around here.

See, my town is small. When the state college here isn’t in session, the population of the town is probably around 3,500-4,000 people. Give or take. And that might be a kind estimate, but I’m basing that on knowing the village has about 2,500 people.

Anyway, for area kids and community members, there’s not a lot to do around here. There’s no movie theater or bowling alley. No malls and barely any true activity programs. It’s small-town life as it is.

There are a few wonderful parks which have some nice hiking trails and such. One of them, which is in the village limits has a beautiful pond, with some trails and woods surrounding.

I’ve walked it several times with some other disc golfers. I think a small 9-hole course would be a wonderful addition to the community. But, of course there’s the process of getting it done, something I’ve recently started.

Creative holes can be on a 9-hole course, just as well as an 18-hole course. Take for example this basket at the 9-hole course in Conklin, NY.

That being said, this course won’t be a world-championship level course. There won’t be any true course designers or anything like that. It’s going to be a basic 9-hole course, utilizing what is there. For most experienced disc golfers, it will be a pitch-and-putt. One or two holes will allow you to air out a little, but leave the big drivers home. They won’t be needed.

It’s going to be basic. Natural tee pads (one per hole), a tee sign and a basket. That’s it. A straight-forward place to play a little golf and have fun.

The idea?

A nice course where people can come play disc golf.

Families.

Kids.

Disc golfers.

Anyone.

Just to be able to play disc golf without having to use a ton of gas or worry about it becoming too serious.

A 9-hole course like this can go a long way. It’s a way to show people the sport and give them the chance to play it. It’s also a way to give back to a community I’ve long been a part of.

I think the community here would rally for a thing like this. I don’t fear the ability to get hole sponsors, if we need to do that. I also think getting some local scouts to help — maybe to build a pavilion at the first hole or benches from trees that might have to come down — would be perfect for a major project.

We’ve already noted that if trees need to come down, we’re more than happy to buy and plant other trees in different parts of the park to make up for this.

Of course, this is just the beginning. Maybe it won’t happen. Maybe the community won’t want it or others might not want to get involved. But those I’ve talked to seem interested. So maybe there’s a chance. Only time will tell. I hope so.

That brings me back to the original part of this post — what do you all think of 9-hole courses? Are you one of those who think they are a waste and have no place in the sport? Or do you like them? There are so many positives for 9-hole courses. They can work well in ball golf, so why not with disc golf?

Leave your thoughts and such in the comments below. I’ll be interested to see what people think.

P.J. Harmer is the lead blogger for Rattling Chains. If you have any comments, questions, thoughts, ideas or anything else, feel free to e-mail me and the crew at: pj [at] rattlingchains.com. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitterand like us on Facebook!

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  • G says:

    I like 9 holes. Check out lochness in Blaine, MN. one of the largest 9 holes in the nation I hear. Very fun. Also I play many 9 hole courses.. Even really short ones. Helps improve putting and midrange.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:29 am
  • Thomas Branham says:

    The 2 courses I play the most are a 9 hole and a 12 hole. They are great for me because I like taking my kids (8 and 10) to play and the holes are not too long allowing them to feel good about their scores.
    I also love these courses because I can run over to them and play a quick “9” at lunch or cycle thru twice if I have a little more time.
    I save the longer 18 hole courses for when I get a “pass” from my wife to be gone for a couple of hours without the kids.

    May 4, 2012 at 9:31 am
  • Sam Coffey says:

    Thanks PJ for writing on this subject.
    I tend to think that ANY Disc Golf course is a good Disc Golf Course. The more that this sport progresses the better. I saw a picture that a friend had posted once of a single basket sitting in the middle of a field by a resort in Mexico… I though to myself, This is awesome. Sure it is not a full course, but at least its a start. Had it been me in Mexico, I would have been down there making up 9 or 18 tee pads to make it into a game!
    I am the course steward for Emerald Park in Mesa, AZ. We have 10 baskets (1 practice) but we made it into a full 18 holes if you play backwards. When I started playing there were no tee pads, just worn out holes that were once a grass tee pad but had been played so much they resembled more of a trench than a place to tee off. There were remnants of tee signs and only the people playing it for years really knew the layout. Our Monday night league raised several thousand dollars to replace the baskets and with the help of the local Eagle Scouts we poured concrete tee pads and installed tee signs. The park is now probably one of the most used courses in the state. I see people from all walks of life from Pro Golfers to families enjoying our park. It makes me proud to have been part of it, and even more proud to be part of a sport in its pioneer days.
    Keep on Chuckin!
    Sam from AZ.. A.K.A. Hairy Putter

    May 4, 2012 at 9:53 am
  • Anthony Finney says:

    I live in a smaller city of about 20,000 and we have a nice little 9-hole course that was put in by Dominion Power Company in a park they built. It’s only downfall; it is only open from mid-to-late March/ April to Mid November. It’s operating hours are Wed-Sunday 11am-6pm before Memorial Day, and after its open 7 days a week 8am-8pm.

    We locals love it. Nothing over 300′ and so it is pretty much a pitch-and-putt course. But had it not been for this course, I’d likely not discovered disc golf at all! I took my kids to play at the playground one day. It was our first trip here and it had been open for nearly 3 years! I saw a metal basket sitting off one of the walking paths and went over and was checking it out. I then saw a couple of guys walking with odd looking frisbees in hand and asked about it. They described the game to me simply as “It’s golf with frisbees.” one of the guys gave me a disc, a DX Roc, told me I could keep it, and my wife went to the playground with the kids while I tried out this new found sport. I fell in love within 5 throws! I double bogeyed my first hole, a par 3 240 something! But as a ball golfer, I wanted another option to play something with my then 8 year old son that didn’t cost $1000 for clubs and $50-$75 a play.

    I’ve been playing for almost 2 years now. Septemeber is my disc golf anniversary month. My wife plays, my brother plays, and my now 10 year old son plays. We’ve introduced about 15 people to the sport, and we play that 9 hole course at least 4 times a week! We help keep it clean and are talking with Dominion Power about redoing the tee signs and installing concrete tees with donations we can raise for the material and labor. It’s a short course we can play 9 holes on in less than 30 minutes with a group of 4, and more often than not, we mob golf it with 10-14 people split up on the course playing an unofficial doubles tournament.
    It’s out “stay in practice course”, our “get in 9 during lunch course”, and it’s tight hole (#7) is our “I hate this @$*^#% hole”! We love our 9 hole course. It’s great to use to introduce people to the sport without intimidating them by having them stare down a 450′ par 3/ par 4. It’s not open fairways, they’re not too tight. It’s not long and the shortest hole is 119′. It’s fun, it’s free…. It’s ours!!

    May 4, 2012 at 9:53 am
  • John Compton says:

    I live in an area north of Chicago where there is nothing but 9 hole courses within a 20 mile radius. It’s frustrating that this is all we have to choose from, but in the end, it’s better than nothing. Would I rather have my choice of several 18s in the area? Of course. But my local 9 hole is a great place to go throw twice through for an hour. It’s a good place for beginners like me to hone my skills. I also like the fact that there have been countless amounts of times that I’ve been the only one out there. I can understand why they get a bad wrap, but they do have their place in disc golf.

    May 4, 2012 at 10:25 am
  • Joseph says:

    Nine hole courses have their place. There are a few in my area, but I am fortunate enough to have many, many eighteen hole courses close. There is a diversity in having a nine hole course. The utilization of space is premium because it is more than likely limited. The course can be used to teach those new to the game, help polish a new discs flight or just hang out for a relaxing afternoon. There is also an easy way a nine hole can turn into an eighteen without the use of more land. Simply add another tee per hole. There is a great park in Apple Valley, MN. that does just this and it creates a wonderful play experience. Closer to home there is a nine hole course in Germantown, WI that doesn’t have a hole over 220ft. I love playing it because it helped me with my midrange game. It would be nice if more cities or municipalities would see the value in allowing its parks to be converted to courses, but it will take time and popularity. Play where you can. Travel to new spots. Enjoy the game.

    May 4, 2012 at 11:30 am
  • nate says:

    Nine is all we have…..Nine hole disc golf courses mean the world to me. You must start off with something and I will never complain as long as there is a few baskets in the ground

    May 4, 2012 at 11:45 am
  • Trey Pfeiffer says:

    I like 18 hole courses, but do live near a nice 9 hole course (Bandemeer Park in Ann Arbor, MI). What’s really nice is there are recreational, novice, and expert tees making it 27 playable holes! I agree any well maintained course is better than nothing. There’s talk my small town will get a course and I’ll be happy with 9 holes since I won’t have to drive an hour each time I play a round.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:32 pm
  • Derek says:

    We have been working with the ACOE at a local dam on putting in the only course within a 45 minute drive. We were able to scrounge up enough cash for 9 baskets so that’s what we are working on putting into the ground. We have a goal of getting to 18, but in a town without any disc golf close by, 9 is a great way to start. It’s shows the ACOE we are serious, the local town gets to learn about the sport, and ideally shows the community the benefits of DG.

    May 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm
  • JP May says:

    Nine hole courses don’t get a lot of love at dg course review (only 17 with 3+ ratings):
    http://www.dgcoursereview.com/browse.php?holes=8&holetype=1&sort=rating&num_reviews=4&rating_min=3
    but if the other 16 on the list as as good as our local nine hole course (Magnolia DGC – 3300′ total through a well maintained arboretum) then there are people doing great things with their limited resources. I’d much rather play nine with all solid holes, than play 18 with only nine good holes.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm
  • Derek O'Neil says:

    I don’t play at many 9 hole courses, but one of my favorite courses is a 9 hole course near my in-laws. It is just a fun little course, which has been fun as I have been improving my game. The greatest benefit is being able to take all of my family in the area out to a 9 hole course to play. It isn’t too difficult for beginers, just throwing the disc accurately is a challenge for those begining, but it challenges experienced players to practice more “up shot” type approaches. This particular course has 2 400+ ft holes that you can really let your disc rip and watch it fly! Plus other holes use the trees in the park very well as well as the elevation. In short, 9 hole courses are good to go out and practice fundamentals as well as introducing the game to more people. In parks with space, over time a 9 hole course can evolve into a 18 or 21 hole course. I would rather have a 9 hole course 5-10 minutes from my house, than not make one and have to drive 20-30 minutes to a 18 hole course. Great blog post and discussion topic!

    May 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm
  • Kevin Morrow says:

    A wonderful example of what a 9 hole course can be you need to play Signal View DGC in Mauretown, VA

    http://www.dgcoursereview.com/course.php?id=2475

    This course is located in a very well kept park and has a variety of holes that is designed for anyone who wants to play. There are beginner, Intermediate & Advanced tee pads. What I usually do is play the intermediated tees the first 9 and and the advanced the second 9.

    This course is the nicest 9 hole course I have ever played. It ranks higher than some 18 hole courses I have played.

    May 4, 2012 at 1:40 pm
  • mike rau says:

    A 9 hole course makes sense if it is challenging enough to play it 2 or 3 times on the same visit. We have a 9 hole course in W. Mi. at Mullally park that is basically worthless that was a waste of taxpayers money.

    May 4, 2012 at 5:33 pm
  • Erica says:

    I like my local 9 hole course, my home course if you will. Sure, not really much for a huge arm but I don’t have one. Also some tight fairways that make you pick a line. And if you know the alt tees from league, you’ve got 16 different looks. All in all, I like the 9 hole courses I’ve played (at least 5 I can remember in as many states) better than the one 6 hole course I’ve run across in my travels.

    May 5, 2012 at 12:11 am
  • Ben Timmerman says:

    9 holes helped me learn and love the game. I hated the feeling of getting on the tee of a 18 and have a bunch of pros try to push me around. Every time a friend or family member wants to try it for the first time I bring them to a 9 hole. They dont get worn out or board. I love 18 holes but if I am short on time I have problem just busting out a 9 hole.

    May 5, 2012 at 11:09 am
  • Jack says:

    This issue comes down to one simple question: If you have a space that is usable for disc golf, and the permission and funding are secured, but it is not large enough for 18 holes, do you put in a course with less holes or not put one in at all?

    The answer should be obvious, but in case it isn’t . . . YES! Even a four-hole course is better than no course at all.
    Jack recently posted..To save strokes near the basket, think like a golferMy Profile

    May 5, 2012 at 12:30 pm
  • Bryan says:

    I think 9 hole courses have their place. I would love to have a close 9 hole close, it would allow me to play quicker rounds if i didn’t have a lot of time. It would also allow me to take my 2 year old son more often, who usually loses interest in disc golf after about 9-10 holes. 9 hole courses are also a great place to introduce new players to the game if they arent quite ready for a full 18 hole course.

    May 5, 2012 at 1:47 pm
  • Oldman Wallis says:

    The first course in our central Illinois area was a 9 hole course, and still is, but it started Disc Golf here. We now have over a dozen course within 45 minutes. Most are 18 holes. 1/2 a dozen are championship level. With out that 9 hole course we would not have any thing like we have now. What a great start.

    May 6, 2012 at 11:11 am
  • Stan Balke says:

    9 hole courses are worth it when that’s all you have money or room for. There are several in the surrounding towns I live near (one is a 10 hole course). The 10 hole course may be approved for 18 after the city and community see the interest in disc golf. The other 2 course have alternate tee pads, therefor making the 9 baskets into 18 hole courses.
    Out of the 3 towns that have disc golf courses, 2 of them have clubs that have started having leagues to raise money for improvements to the course and one of them is working toward another 18 hole course.
    Is a 9 hole course worth it? Oh yes!

    May 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm
  • Kirk Maddox says:

    Panama City, Florida… I am sure that most everyone has heard of it. The nicknames of Redneck Riviera and Spring Break Capital of the World have been associated with Panama City for years, but… up until 2008, zero disc golf courses. Now we have a total of two 9-hole courses. The first one was officially opened in April 2008 in a very small park in a not so nice neighborhood. It is very short with nothing over 280. Every hole is a birdie chance for sure and 7 are ace shots. The second course opened less than a year ago. It is much longer with two or three actual par 3s and one that could arguably be a par 4. It is much more open than the short course. These two courses combined would be a really cool 18 hole course. Let me say this, if it had not been for the small 9 hole course, I would not be a pro today. I would not have had the chance to enjoy the early successes that encouraged me to travel to Tallahasse, Orlando, Atlanta, Mobile, Jackson Miss. There are SOOO many reasons why that short little 9 hole course is one of the most valuable resources a disc golfer can experience.

    May 7, 2012 at 11:46 am
  • Mike Harrington says:

    There are people on Disc Golf Course Review who actually believe the highest rating a 9 hole course can receive is a 2.5/5.0 discs which is absurd to me. I evaluate the course for the course not how many holes or what it might be lacking in terms of acreage. I highly doubt if these people played The Brickyard or Lambs Creek at Pioneer Grill . . . both 9 holers in Menomonie, WI and both are incredible. The Brickyard received my highest rating for a 9 hole course to date and has become one of my favorite courses . . . it didn’t hurt that I got an ace my first time there I suppose. Also there is a private 9 hole course at Bethel University that is pretty highly ranked in my eyes too. It is a beautiful parklike course while The Brickyard has extreme challenges in elevation and woods . . . it just happens to only have 9 holes. I have probably played 100 9 hole courses (out of my 375 courses played) so I have seen a lot of them out there!
    Mike Harrington recently posted..I’m Goin’ Back to Florida (Not Cali) 12/28-1/22 Second Leg 1/2 and 1/3 Tampa/St. Petersburg AreaMy Profile

    May 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm

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