I have to admit I have never been a fan of 9-hole golf courses.
Golf has been an 18-hole game for as long as I've known it. Even when I've been short of time and could only play 9 holes, I felt as if I was cheating myself out of 9 holes of play. Some of this dislike may be rooted, if I really studied it, in the reality that one of my favorite golf course when learning the game in New Jersey was reduced from a beautiful 18-hole course to 9 disjointed holes due to a developer's desire to have homes instead of golf holes.
Having said that, I have played a few 9-hole layouts in recent years which have started me thinking that my original assessment was incorrect. While golf is an 18-hole game, there are a number of wonderful 9-hole layouts which are challenging and fun to play.
A recent visit to beautiful Bermuda found a 9-hole gem in Devonshire, near the city of Hamilton, the stately Ocean View Golf Course.
Ocean View features 9-holes stretching about 2,450-yards whose tree-lined, rolling fairways offer a little bit of protection from the breezes. It has a number of challenging greens whose undulations can tantalize even the finest of putters. The staff is friendly and the cost is inexpensive by Bermudian standards. But more about that later.
The elevated tee on the par-3, 140-yard 2nd hole offers a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean off the North Shore of the island. Much of the island(s) may be seen from the tee, as it juts a bit higher than the surrounding area. That calming view is important, because most players advance to the hole after battling the difficult, 470-yard par-5 opening hole.
The par-3 finishing hole is no piece of cake, as a pond fronts and several bunkers protect the green. Club selection, especially when the winds are buffeting the course, is critical on the hole, which can be played anywhere from 170 to 195 yards.
There are two sets of tees allowing for two distinct 9-hole rounds, so those wanting to play 18 holes to not have to play each hole to the same yardage. There is enough variation to have a golfer feel he or she's playing 18 different tests. For example, the 5th hole offers one set of tees measuring 476-yards where the long knockers can reach the green in two shots. But even those long hitters have trouble hitting the hole when it's stretched to more than 500-yards.
The 18-hole routing plays to a par-70 at approximately 5,700-yards. It features 2 par-5 holes, 4 par-4s and 3 par-3s. But don't let that length trick you into thinking it's easy to post low scores. The challenging greens, rolling hills, ravines, out of bounds stakes and various other hazards come into play and make scoring anything but easy.
Ocean View is one of 3 courses operated by the Bermuda government (the others are Port Royal and St. George's). It features a restaurant and full bar, and lively conversation can be had with locals and visitors alike. The pro shop is adequate, and the greens fee, about $65 for walking 18 holes, is affordable. Pull carts are available, as are tee times which can be booked through your hotel concierge or by calling the club directly. There is a driving range on site.
There's no question that playing the beautiful Ocean View Golf Course has made me change my opinion of 9-hole layouts.
Ocean View: Not the most challenging course on the island, but a fun course and great break from the beaches. A solid B.