Melbourne, July 27 : The weekend golf hacker in Australia could soon become an extinct species, courtesy spiralling playing costs and busier lifestyles.
According to Golf club administrators, increasing numbers of social players no longer have the time to play the occasional 18-hole round, leading to a steady decline in memberships.
With the growing problem, Golf Australia, the sport's governing body, has decided to introduce a shortened version of the game to win back time-poor players.
Golf Australia will declare a national nine-hole tournament next month, to give the mini-game a higher profile.
It says that more than 444,500 people hold club memberships nationally, but that number is falling by about 2 per cent every year.
Nick Green, spokesman for Golf Australia, said that clubs were being asked to stage more nine-hole tournaments in a bid to boost memberships.
"The evidence we are getting from a number of clubs is that it has been an absolute success," The Courier Mail quoted Green, as saying.
"A shortened version of the game is here to stay. It will suit people with families and busy lives. In the morning and the afternoon, they can get their golfing fix," he added.
James King, owner of Boomerang Farm course in the Coast's hinterland, has up to 100 local hackers a day paying 18 dollars for a nine-hole hit-out.
"People don't have the time any more for 18 holes. With nine holes and smaller courses, people will play on them, King said.
Boomerang Farm also provides players a more relaxed atmosphere than some of the expensive, elite clubs.
"There's a snob factor with golf. Well-heeled blokes want to turn up and play straight away," a former private club member, who now plays at Boomerang.
The increasing trend for exclusive, high-priced courses linked to residential developments are also squeezing out battlers.