Catriona Matthew: 18 holes puts women off golf

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham October 15, 2014 10:04

One of the world’s leading golfers, Catriona Matthew, the winner of the 2009 Women’s British Open, has said that 18 holes deters women in their 30s and 40s from playing golf.

catriona matthew oregon golf association

Catriona Matthew. Image by Oregon Golf Association

The views of Catriona Matthew, who also said that there should be more professional nine-hole competitions, come just days after the PGA’s CEO, Sandy Jones, said that clubs should start thinking about offering fewer than 18 holes.

Participation in golf in the UK has been in decline for a number of years and surveys have suggested that the time it takes to play an 18-hole round, sometimes more than four hours, is a problem for the game when it comes to recruiting and retaining golfers of both genders.

“Women’s golf in Scotland, like Britain, is not as popular amongst the young,” said Catriona Matthew in a Q&A for the Ladies European Tour website.

“I think there is almost a missing generation in most golf clubs in Britain of women between 30 and 45 years up in the game so something needs to be done about that.

“Maybe more nine-hole competitions, so it doesn’t take so long. The pros should show 
an example, too, and play quicker.”

Her comments come after Sandy Jones said recently: “When golf started it used to have six-hole courses, or nine or eight or 12 or 11. Then for competitive reasons it was regulated as 18 holes. But there’s nothing wrong with playing fewer holes. I think clubs have to ask themselves what have we got here and how can we blend ourselves to fit in with today’s society not how can we mould society into what we have always believed is what it should be.

“If people start thinking along those lines I think that we can make the game work.”

His comments also come a year after Peter Dawson, CEO of The R&A, golf’s ruling authority in all but two countries in the world, also suggested that 18 holes should be reduced if necessary.

“Too often we hear of golf courses and facilities encountering severe difficulties because what they offer does not match what golfers want or their capability to pay,” he said.

“A full round of 18 holes is, and will no doubt continue to be, the norm, but our hectic business and family lives often mean less time for recreation. This is where golf facilities offering a less time consuming and costly alternative can be an effective way of introducing new players to our sport and of retaining their interest and participation in the future.

“All of us who work to ensure a sound future for golf know that, for the game to flourish, it must be affordable and accessible.”

And last year the Scottish Golf Union stated: “There’s a need for shorter courses such as six holes, or three loops of six holes instead of two loops of nine holes. All the research tells us that the number one barrier to golf is time – even ahead of money. We don’t need any more 7,500-yard championship courses.”

 

Martyn Clapham
By Martyn Clapham October 15, 2014 10:04
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