As Jack Nicklaus prepares this week for his Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, I would not be surprised to hear him hold court on an idea that he's liked for years: the 12-hole round. After playing yet another a five-hour round last Sunday, I like the idea a lot. Here's why:
- It's cheaper. Golf's too expensive, and this is a way to lower the cost and make the game more attractive, especially for younger players.
- It's faster. I've heard this countless times from common golfers like me: "Eighteen holes are too long, and nine are too short." So the Goldilocks solution is 12 holes, which is just right.
- It's mercy. Golfers often play well for 12 to 14 holes, and then the wheels fall off because of fatigue. Playing a 12-hole round keeps the good part of a round and skips the bad.
- It's business. The annual springtime news reports about the decline of golf always include mention of a few courses that are being creative in fighting this decline. They offer the likes of foot golf (kicking soccer balls down a fairway and into a large cup), lawn bowling areas and holes enlarged to 8 inches or even 15 inches. If I owned a course, I would make my course distinctive and newsworthy by offering the six- and 12-hole options. The word would spread, and the tee times would fill in a flash.
Nicklaus seems to do OK as a businessman, and he has had 12-hole scorecards made up at his Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio and The Bears Club in Florida. "My seniors are loving it," he says.
It's interesting that bad weather last week caused officials at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic to go with an opening round of 12 holes. Check out this video of how one player, Tiffany Joh, reacted favorably.
Finally, the Prestwick 12 Golf concept revolves around the design and construction of 6-hole loops, forming 12- or 18-hole regulation length golf courses.