'Outward Nine' and 'Inward Nine' Definitions

As golfers we sometimes hear the phrases "outward nine" and "inward nine." Some golfers even use those phrases. Do you know what they mean? They are golf course terms that refer to the front nine and back nine, respectively.

The "outward nine" (or "outward 9") of a golf course is its first nine holes. The "inward nine" (or "inward 9") of a golf course is its last nine holes. Or, another way of stating it, Holes 1-9 make up the outward nine, holes 10-18 constitute the inward nine.

Outward nine is a synonym for front nine; inward nine is a synonym for back nine. The terms are properly used only in reference to an 18-hole golf course.

Now, sticklers for golf history and traditions might say that the terms are also only properly applied to a very specific type of golf course: a seaside links whose first nine holes go out from the clubhouse in something close to a straight line; then lead back in to the clubhouse in a more-or-less straight line. That type of golf course design is where the terms originated. The outward nine (holes 1-9) literally led golfers out to the farthest point away from the clubhouse, then the inward nine (holes 10-18) led golfers back in.

The particular course design is very rare today in new golf course construction. But the two terms have stuck around and are today applied by golfers to any type of golf course as synonyms for front nine and back nine.

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