I haven't made up my mind about 12-hole golf courses, the idea Jack Nicklaus floated in 2007 and is now promoting again. (His private Muirfield Village Golf Club in Ohio hosted 12-hole tournaments over Labor Day weekend).
The idea did, however, get me thinking about some of the similarly "strange" golf course configurations I've come across in my travels.
For example, here in the USA, there are some pretty high-profile courses with 10, 13, and 21 holes.
And you're not going to believe what's going on in the rest of the world.
Apparently, not everyone got the memo that modern golf courses are "supposed" to have at least nine holes...or at least be built in multiples of three.
For example, there are four-hole courses in France and Austria (and now Vermont given that Okemo Valley Golf Club opened its "Family Fore" course this summer).
Not odd enough for you? Iceland has a five-hole course.
Six-hole courses are actually quite common here and abroad.
Seven holes? I can't think of any off the top of my head.
An eight-hole course by Hurdzan/Fry was scheduled to open this summer at Ohio's Glenlaurel Inn, but delays may push it back to 2012.
There's a 10-hole course at Kukio Golf Club in Hawaii (designed by Tom Fazio no less).
11 holes: Gilroy Golf Course in Gilroy, Calif.
12 holes: There are a bunch of these (and seemingly more on the way given Nicklaus' influence). Two that immediately come to mind are the Shiskine Golf & Tennis Club, in Scotland and the Challenge Course at Monarch Dunes in Nipomo, Calif. (By the way, the first British Open Championship was held at Prestwick Golf Club when it only had 12 holes.)
13 holes: Bandon Preserve in Bandon, Ore. (opening in 2012)
14 holes: Country Meadows Golf Course near Lake George, N.Y.
15 holes: Oak Hills Golf Course in Charlotte, N.C., had four holes overtaken by interstate highway; one was rebuilt (thanks goes to Marve H. below for this one)
16 holes: I got nothing.
17 holes: This would be downright silly.
19 holes: More common that you might think, particularly at private courses to break ties and settle bets. Played a nice one of these "hog holes" this season at Sebonack Golf Club on Long Island. Michigan's Forest Dunes has a great one, too, a nod to the 6th hole at Riviera Country Club with a sand trap right in the middle of the green.
20 holes: The European Club in County Wicklow, Ireland. The lifelong dream of golf writer turned golf architect Pat Ruddy, there were two extra holes built because, as Ruddy puts it, "We had enough land, and we're here to play golf aren't we?" Haig Point on Daufuskie Island, S.C. (one of my favorite places in the world) also has 20-holes on its Rees Jones Signature Course.
21 holes: Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna, W.V. They do everything a bit differently in West Virginia, don't they? (Hailing from New Jersey, I have the right to poke fun at someplace else.)
22 holes or more: Nothing current that I can think of, although the Old Course at St. Andrews was expanded from 12 to 22 holes before being scaled back to its current 18.
Mmm, makes you wonder if all these alternative configurations represent a trend back to golf's less formal roots.
Have you come across golf courses with something other than 9 or 18 holes? What's your opinion on these "different" configurations? Please share your comments below.