A tournament in St Albans this May is aiming to attract youths to engage with the sport
By Phil Rice
The European Golf Tour is launching an innovative event this May 6th- 7th at the Centurion Golf Club outside St.Albans. The event, called GolfSixes is a six hole event involving 16 two-man national teams.
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, is a strong advocate of introducing new golfing formats to attract a younger audience to the sport. He believes this event will bring a different concept of the sport particularly to youths who have never been attracted to golf before.
He says: ”It is an opportunity to try something different and then follow that up with significant consumer research with the people who attend or those who view it across multiple platforms. It is very much an entertainment product. Depending on how things go at Centurion, eventually you might want to build a venue custom-made for this.”
Music and fireworks
He adds,” I think this is just an incredibly different way of showcasing the sport. We will have music and fireworks on the first tee, it will be an entertaining golf product.”
I can see the purists spluttering into their pink gins at the very thought of it!
The US Players Championship is scheduled for the following week so many of the top professionals will not be available, but the event has attracted a number of the leading European Tour players, obviously wooed by the considerable purse on offer.
The total prize fund is £1m with a first prize of £200,000 to the winning pair. The event doesn’t have a sponsor but will be bank rolled by the European Tour. During the tournament the players will wear microphones, something that Pelley believes will be standard equipment in the future, so that TV viewers can listen in as players and caddies assess shots and situations.
On the first day, Saturday, the teams will be split into four groups of four.
The top two teams from each group then progress to the knock-out stages which will be played the following day. In the first stage three points will be awarded for a win with one point given for a draw.
The matches will be played in a greensomes match play format. Both days will be shown live on Sky Sports. Players will be encouraged to interact with the fans during play and at the intervals between matches, including taking part in Q&A sessions in the fan zone.
Live streaming on social media will further maximise the reach of the event. Despite golf ’s considerable following, there is statistical evidence that the number of younger enthusiasts is dwindling, and the European Tour appointed Pelley, an acclaimed marketeer, to the Chief Executive position, to reinvigorate the sports appeal to the younger generation.
• Both players in each team hit tee shots on each hole. The best tee shot is selected and then the team alternate play of all subsequent shots required to complete the hole.
• Matches will be played over all 6 holes with 1 point awarded for each hole won. The winner of each match will be the player with most points at the end of 6 holes.
• For the group table: Win = 3 points, Draw = 1 point, Loss = 0 points
• In the case of a tie or ties in the group table after all matches have been played, each team’s total points differential from the 3 matches (similar to goal difference) will be used to determine the qualifiers to the knockout stages.
• If this does not resolve the tie, then this will be decided by a hole-by-hole play-off on a shortened play-off hole on hole 18.
• Matches will be played over as many holes as is required to determine a winner.
• Any match that is still tied after 6 holes will be continued by repeated play of a “shortened play-off hole” on hole 18 until a result is determined.