The changes mean golfers can obtain and use a Handicap Index over shorter distances (1,500 yards for 18 holes, and 750 yards for 9-holes) by expanding the WHS to thousands more courses, including par-3s, and bringing compact courses into the ratings system.
Caspar Grauballe, President of EIGCA, says: “As architects, we have advocated for compact courses for a number of years. They are an important route to growing the game of golf as they cater for a range of skills rather than simply focusing on distance. Compact courses widen the appeal of golf by not only providing a stepping stone for new golfers to get off the range and play on-course, but also cater for those who do not have the time to play a traditional-length 18-hole course or find the distance challenging.
“It is important to move away from the traditional thought that golf can only be played over 18 holes spread across 6,000 yards. Par-3s or 9-hole courses require less land, use fewer natural resources, and are potentially more profitable as they are cheaper to maintain. This recognition of the role compact courses have in the game of golf is vital in safeguarding the future of the game, and EIGCA hopes it encourages more developers and club owners to see the viability of compact courses.”
In partnership with The R&A, EIGCA is developing a set of design guidelines to explain the types of playing facilities that will fit into smaller spaces (land of up to 25 hectares). These publicly-available guidelines will be available in 2024 and complement the anticipated increase in demand for the design and development of compact courses which the WHS changes will encourage.