It’s a rare occasion when a dedicated golfer will choose a nine-hole course over an 18-hole one. They’re often seen as a necessary evil, a way to make the best of a bad situation. But there are certain shorter courses that have as much charm and enjoyment to offer as their more robust cousins!
Aetna Springs in Pope Valley, California, USA
Aetna Springs is a breath-taking, wide-open course, regarded as one of the oldest west of the Mississippi. The designers famously built it by working with the local terrain instead of rearranging it.
It’s a par-79, encompassing 6 114 yards, or just over 5 590 metres, of some of the finest wine country in Northern California, with low-lying trees and mountains visible in the distance behind the greens. Aetna Springs is often referred to as a hidden gem thanks to where it’s situated, and the course available there today is the third on the site, incorporating elements of the first two.
This course is a beloved one, but power hitters will strike out here. It takes finesse, so leave your power swings at home!
Anstruther in Fife, Scotland
There are so many beautiful 18-hole links in Scotland that nine-hole courses can be overlooked. Anstruther is one that shouldn’t be. It’s a par-62 course that presents some serious challenges, considered very short with a monster of a test waiting for you at the fifth hole.
The greens are not particularly expansive, so you’re likely to have a shot roll off, and the course is a wide-open one, allowing you to look down over the sea as you play. Because of this, weather can play havoc with your game, with wind and rain proving as much of an obstacle as the distance from the tee.
If you have a less-than-great game, however, there’s a lot to do in this charming little Scottish resort town. There’s the beautiful harbour to explore, the Isle of May to have a look at, and, if worse comes to worst, you can always book into Kilconquhar Castle Estate and relax with a spot of fun at Bingo Hall Australia via your smartphone or tablet.
The Gowrie Farm Golf Course, KZN Midlands, South Africa
The Gowrie Farm Golf Course is as interesting and unique as the land it meanders over. Designed by Guy Smith, an attorney based in Pietermaritzburg, the course takes for its inspiration some of the fine links in Scotland and early American courses like Merion and Pinehurst. It runs over a hilly, windswept landscape featuring big bent-grass greens.
It offers a more than respectable 6 006 metre, or almost 6 570 yards, par-71 layout.
The greens can boast speeds of as much as 11 on the Stimpmeter, and provide as many wonderful features as they do challenges. Subtle slopes and multiple swales make for a difficult putting surface, and if you’re not well-versed in surfaces at this speed it may prove a bit trying. Leaving the ball below the hall should then become your goal for the day!