Tee time booking software company BRS Golf by GolfNow has reported ‘an explosion’ in the number of 9-hole rounds booked via its platforms in 2020 and predicts this trend will continue in 2021.
Last year, 9-hole bookings in the UK and Ireland hit 3.47 million via BRS Golf’s members’ booking website, members’ app and visitor booking engines – up from 1.55 million in 2019 and 1.4 million in 2018. This represents a 123% increase year-on-year from 2019 to 2020.
GolfNow saw a 253% increase in 9-hole bookings year-on-year via golfnow.co.uk and its mobile apps, while 9-hole bookings through its tee time distribution platform rocketed from 8,616 in 2019 to 30,441 in 2020.
According to BRS Golf, the increase in rounds is not just due to the growth in purpose-built 9-hole courses, but also the number of 18-hole venues offering the option to play nine holes. And it wasn’t just visitors that were enjoying a shorter form of golf last year, as there was a big shift in the split of bookings between member and visitor. Over half (51%) of members played nine-hole rounds in 2020, up from 40% in 2019; while visitors accounted for 49% of nine-hole rounds, down from 60% in 2019.
Some golf clubs restricted members to playing just 9-hole rounds during the busiest periods in between lockdowns in 2020 and in the shorter winter days. This resulted in a spike in 9-hole bookings in December, which was the fourth biggest month for 9-hole golf last year, behind May, June and July.