Shorter versions of golf are also surging at the moment

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 9, 2020 12:25

New data from Ireland suggests that shorter and quicker versions of golf than what can be played on 18-hole full-length courses is soaring at the moment.

Golf participation and membership has surged since golf courses reopened at the end of spring, and there has been data that more younger people are playing the game, but it now appears that the increase also included people who have never played golf before, or people who want to play golf quickly.

According to Pitch and Putt Ireland, more than 2,000 people have taken up pitch and putt memberships in the last four months, with numbers up by more than 200 percent at some golf clubs.

Pitch and putt is played on smaller courses with a maximum of three clubs, with holes no longer than 90 metres and a par of 54. The sport originated in Ireland in the 1930s where it is believed that there are at least 100 pitch and putt courses.

“Some clubs have had to turn people away and have seen their biggest rise in numbers in decades,” said Jason O’Connor of Pitch and Putt Ireland.

Bishopstown Pitch and Putt Club has seen membership numbers jump from 65 in 2019 to 210 this year, up 210 percent. St Anne’s Shanakiel has seen its membership go from 87 to 233 — a rise of 167 percent.

Portmarnock Pitch and Putt has seen membership go from 251 to 412 (up 64 percent) while Castleisland Pitch & Putt has seen membership almost double from 39 to 72.

Portmarnock Pitch and Putt. Image from Facebook

“A round of golf could be five hours now. You can get 36 holes of pitch and putt played in two-and-a-half to three hours,” he added.

The resurgence in memberships means that green fees have had to be suspended by many clubs.

“We’ve had to turn people away,” said O’Connor. “Not all clubs take green fees but those that do would be recording big increases.

“At my own club Deerpark, I’ve been running the clubhouse this summer and we’re definitely up 50 percent on green fees. We haven’t seen numbers like it in 20 years. There were days we had 12 calls of people looking to play and we had to tell them to come back later or try again the following day. It would tell you how much the ‘staycation’ message is making a difference, too. Clubs that maybe missed out on sports capital funding grants, this has been a bit of a consolation prize for some of them.

“If you go back to the golden era, which was the late 1990s, the numbers were as high as 30,000.

“Golf became a lot more affordable to people, it probably affected a lot of our clubs, Some pitch and putt courses, with land rezoning and the like, went out of existence.

“Thinking back to the recession, there was an assumption people would come back to pitch and putt if they couldn’t afford to play golf but there was probably an underestimation of the fact golf clubs were so willing to keep members and give them easy payment options. They didn’t come back in the numbers we thought.

“We were down to 6,000 in 2019.”

Already that membership figure is up by around 37 percent on this year to date.


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir September 9, 2020 12:25
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  1. JC from France September 14, 17:27

    Try Golfup ( after the Covid !…) near St Tropez , south France , which is a P&P 9 holes which I’am the architect , completely in synthetic !.
    It’s surprising , amazing ..
    Take a look at their website…

    Reply to this comment
  2. S Wood September 12, 12:32

    Shorter and fun versions of the game such as Golf Access have been extremely popular since golf course reopened and having a focus on playing on the course rather than participation and lessons mainly on the practice area or driving range

    Reply to this comment
  3. KH September 11, 11:41

    9 works just fine! (But many still play 18 daily)

    Reply to this comment
  4. Pete USA September 10, 12:35

    Since 1990 our Company has been manufacturing & producing a fine line of limited-distance “Hybrid” golf balls for shorter Par 3 & Executive courses and have seen a dramatic increase in ball sales. People today just want a quick, affordable and enjoyable golf experience with less time & frustration.
    Shorter courses are becoming the new thing in golf.

    Reply to this comment
  5. AM September 9, 15:43

    It’s an old fashioned idea, been promoting this for 15 years! If you have land, build the worlds greatest short course! #par3golf @worldpar3

    Reply to this comment
    • Pete USA September 10, 22:07

      Every day golfers create the best shorter golf courses in the world using of our new MD Hybrid Golf Ball. Developed to improve the play & design of the standard course to a higher standard, providing the modern golfer with an updated quick-play game.

      Reply to this comment
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