Southport, England: A group of 42 amateur men and women golfers competed in the first R&A Nine-Hole Championship Final at Royal Birkdale.
The group participated in a handicap pairs competition at the famous Southport links just five days before The 146th Open gets under way, playing the 10th to 18th holes.
Following a successful pilot at Royal Troon last year, more than 7,000 amateur golfers entered qualifying events across Great Britain and Ireland to reach the Final at the host venue of The Open.
Pauline Rostron, from Formby Ladies, and Sally Pearson, from Chester, were the overall winners and were both thrilled to play in a nine-hole competition on the eve of golf’s original championship.
The victorious pair returned a winning combined net score of 70.5 to be crowned champions in front of family and friends in the Royal Birkdale clubhouse.
“I feel totally exhilarated and also completely surprised!” said Pearson, who was celebrating her 36th birthday as she took on the back nine of Royal Birkdale.
“I love nine-hole golf – it is much quicker. Even if you have a bad nine holes it doesn’t ruin your day. You can get around after work and I can’t encourage people enough to play nine-hole golf.”
Rostron added, “I’m absolutely ecstatic – it’s fabulous. It’s a little bit of history. I don’t know if I’ll ever get the chance to play here again – but to win as well is fantastic. If you can play after work in the summer – nine-hole golf is much quicker.”
The R&A continues to work with national golf bodies in Great Britain and Ireland to promote nine-hole golf as a quick and enjoyable way to play golf either socially or competitively.
Duncan Weir, Executive Director – Working for Golf at The R&A, said: “We have had a wonderful first Great Britain and Ireland wide nine-hole final here at Royal Birkdale.
“Everyone genuinely enjoyed themselves – they appreciated being here and they revelled in the challenge of playing Royal Birkdale on the eve of The Open.
“It wasn’t all about what happened here. It’s about promoting nine-hole golf throughout Great Britain and Ireland and beyond. This event should serve as a reminder to golf clubs that golf, whether social or competitive, can be played more quickly if it’s played over nine holes. That’s the real message behind this event.”