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The 12-hole golf course: a smart idea for the times

Scottish Highlands - A 12 Hole Course

In our last issue, we published a state-of-the-industry report which looked at golf as it stands today and what might be in store for tomorrow. It’s no secret that two of the game’s greatest opponents are the cost to play and the amount of time required to play it.

Jack Nicklaus, perhaps the greatest golfer of all time, has said maybe the time has come to seriously consider 12-hole courses as the standard for new construction. The shorter layout would both be easier on the pocketbook and would take less time to play.

Someone, it seems, has been listening. In Saskatoon, a new 12-hole golf course is ready for its first full season. The Greenbryre Golf & Country Club had once been an 18-hole facility, dating back to 1979, but has re-emerged at two-thirds its former length.

The golf course ownership didn’t simply trim six holes from its existing layout, but scrapped the former track altogether to shape a brand new golf experience. The project goes hand in hand with a peripheral housing development.

The 12-hole golf experience had its test run late last season to rave reviews. Golfers were able to finish their round in a timely fashion, and several were able to squeeze in the dozen holes early in the morning before heading off to work. Greenbryre has also been booking several corporate tournaments for this season. The companies choosing to play their annual event at Greenbryre realize that many of their employees play little or no golf and can complete their round before fatigue sets in, not to mention the possible embarrassment an additional six holes might bring.

Of course the option to play a full 18 holes still exists for the traditionalist who will simply play either Greenbryre’s north or south six a second time.

Existing 18-hole golf courses across Canada which may just be getting by or are struggling amidst several other championship-length courses in their vicinity might want to pay attention to what is happening at Greenbryre and at other 12-hole facilities in Canada and the United States.

If they’re struggling to attract new golfers and are losing others to age and competition with neighbouring courses, reducing their size to 12 holes could be a viable option one day down the road. Courses that might go that route could possibly carve out a niche market for themselves to attract the “can’t afford” and “have no time” would-be golfer.

The 12-hole golf course fits into that “thinking outside the box” mode of reasoning when it comes to addressing the viable future of the game.

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