Golf Gazette: A solution to your golf woes — play 9

“I don’t have time to play golf, it takes too long,” is a response heard often these days from many when asked if they play the game. 

In today’s hurry-hurry world, spending four hours, or more, chasing after a little white ball for 18 holes can take a major chunk out of the day. If you enjoy playing golf, but find the time commitment to play 18 holes does not fit your schedule, I have a solution: Play nine holes instead.

Last year the United States Golf Association introduced the PLAY9 initiative. PLAY9 hopes to promote the game to players of all levels who may not have time for a full round. Here are a few good reasons to get out there and play nine.

It’s a great way for early risers to start the day. You can get in nine holes and still have most of the day in front of you. It is also a great way to wind down after work and shake off the day’s stress, and most courses offer nine-hole and twilight rates.

Nine holes is the perfect way for beginners to get introduced to golf and also a wonderful way to spend quality time with your family.

Eighteen holes may be a bit long for some folks to walk. You may, however, be more inclined to walk nine holes, getting valuable exercise along the way. You’ll also be saving a few shekels by not having to rent a motorized cart.

My friend and faithful reader, Bill Zebroski of Southold, gave me a lead on a great story about a very special golf course.

Located just a few miles from the famous Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia is one of the country’s oldest golf courses, Oakhurst Links. Built in 1884, this 30-acre gem is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The course hosted the first golf tournament in America and was open until 1912, when it reverted back to a pasture.

Oakhurst Links remained closed until 1994, when it was reopened by Lewis Keller.

Financial problems plagued the course and it almost went to foreclosure in 2011, but fortunately Greenbrier Resort owner, Jim Justice, came to the rescue and purchased the property.

“I don’t know that it’s going to be a great thing for Greenbrier, but I know it’s [saving the course] a great thing to do,” Justice said.

Built upon traditional Scottish design, the course, to this day, has not let go of some time-honored golf traditions. For instance, gentlemen must wear long pants, knickers, or kilts, along with long-sleeve shirts and a tie. Ladies must wear long dresses and clothing appropriate to the late 1800s.

What about equipment? Hickory-shafted clubs only. Nothing post 1900. Golf balls at the time were gutta-percha balls. Say what!? “Gutty’s,” as they were called, were developed in 1848 by taking dried tree sap, heating it, and forming it into the shape of a ball. And there were no wooden tees back in those days. You must form your tees by hand with water and sand.

As for rules, you could not mark your ball on the green back then. If your opponent’s ball gets in front of yours, known as being “stymied,” you must play around it or, yes, over it. If your ball breaks apart, which was not uncommon with the Gutty’s, you play the largest piece of the ball until you hole-out. You must do your best trying to avoid the sheep, which will be wandering around and munching away, keeping the course mowed.

You are allowed a free drop if your ball lands in a sheep turd.

If you know the name Ivor Robson, you are one serious golf fan. If you don’t know the name you probably would recognize the voice. Robson has introduced every player who has played in the British Open for the past 41 years. Sorry, golf purists, my apologies. Not everyone is aware that the event is properly referred to as simply, “The Open.”

Robson, 64, announced his final Open a few weeks ago. What set him apart was his eloquent and colorful Scottish delivery and enunciation of the player’s names – his voice raising at different syllables. For instance, “Tiger WOODS!”

Something few knew about Robson was that he never left his post during the day, which sometimes lasted for more than 12 hours. No trips to the loo (British for bathroom) for this Scotsman. As Golf Channel broadcaster, Rich Lerner, recently said, “Robson’s bladder has to be the size of Wyoming.”

When this year’s Open went to a playoff I was thrilled. Not just to see more exciting golf, but to hear Robson’s introductions one last time.

TEE TIMES: Kenny Weinstein, from Sandy Pond Golf Course in Riverhead, shared a few holes-in-one. Congratulations go out to Kat Jumper, who aced the 4th hole, and Steve Cronin, who found the cup on No. 3. Island’s End Head Professional Bill Fish reported holes-in-one by Neil Sullivan on the scenic 16th hole and Maurice Scannell on the 7th hole.