By Design – Issue 56, Winter 2021

14 NON-18 GOLF When members of the Society of St Andrews Golfers decided in 1764 that some of its course’s holes were too short, little did they know they were on the verge of establishing a standard that golf clubs across the world would still be keen to observe more than 250 years later. The few golf courses that existed at that point had different numbers of holes; Leith had five, Musselborough had seven. But by reducing its 12 holes to 10, eight of which were played twice, St Andrews established an 18-hole round that, within the 100 years that followed, became the norm. Today’s golfers still consider 18 holes to be the full format of the game, whether or not they are aware that the Old course was the first with this tradition. The convergence to 18 holes gained pace over the past 100 years, as golf ’s rise to the mainstream brought with it standardization of Is the golf industry ready to embrace golf courses that do not comply with the tradition of 18 holes? Richard Humphreys investigates. 18? Forever