A report from The R&A reveals that competitive nine-hole club rounds by women and girls increased by 64% (18,753 to 30,803) and by over 200% by men and boys (2,370 to 7,250) between 2016 and 2017.
The eye-catching increase comes as a number of the world’s leading golfers, including Pádraig Harrington, voice their support for shorter forms of golf.
The Irish figures are replicated elsewhere with a significant increase in competitive nine hole scores being submitted.
The popularity of nine-hole golf is also evident in other countries; in Portugal, there has been a 269% increase in the number of nine-hole qualifying scores recorded from 2007-2017 (1,688 to 6,225), while in Spain the number of nine-hole rounds played from 2014-2017 has increased by 36% (35,777 to 48,806).
Golf’s professional circuits are also embracing shorter formats of the game with the GolfSixes event on the European Tour won by Ireland’s Paul Dunne and Gavin Moynihan earlier this month.
Duncan Weir, executive director of development at The R&A, said: “The figures reported by the national associations in Great Britain and Ireland, and those in other countries, demonstrate that nine hole golf is rising in popularity.
"We are encouraged to see shorter forms of the sport are being embraced by clubs and golfers as a perfectly valid means to play golf in less time, either recreationally or competitively.”
An unrelated report has also confirmed that golf in Ireland is on the rise.
The latest Irish Sports Monitor (ISM) report shows overall golf participation has increased to 2.5% of the population compared to 2.3% in 2015. The number of women actively participating in the game has increased from 0.9% to 1.2%.
This increment leaves golf as the seventh most popular sport in Ireland ahead of Gaelic football and hurling/camogie.
The rise comes against the backdrop of an additional 4,600 new players being attracted to the game since 2014 via the CGI Get into Golf Programmes, 3,000 of which have been women and girls. Additionally, over 45,000 have sampled golf through CGI community and school awareness days.
“It is very positive to see a narrowing of the gender gap regarding participation in sport,” remarked ILGU chief Sinead Heraty. “In particular, it is very encouraging that golf remains unchanged as the seventh most popular sport in Ireland and has achieved an increase in female participation since 2015.”