Will fireworks and music attract younger people to golf?
It is hoped that a new and radically different European Tour event could have a positive impact on participation in the game.
The two-day tournament, which will take place at the Centurion Club, Hertfordshire, this May, will involve six-hole golf, amphitheatre-style stands, a fan zone featuring Q&As with players, ‘caddie cams’, on-course player interviews, music and fireworks.
The news comes as rock band the Kaiser Chiefs has been booked to play at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, also in May, and as The R&A has proposed to bring in new rules to speed up the game, including allowing putting on the green with the flagstick left in the hole.
The GolfSixes tournament will see the top ranked player from 16 different nations gain entry through their Tour ranking as of 13 March, and then they will choose a second golfer to partner them for the event.
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said “We have said for some time that golf needs to modernise and introducing innovative new formats is a major part of achieving that aim.
“We want to broaden the appeal of our sport to the millennial demographic and I think this format will do that, not only through the quick and exiting style of play, but also with the interactive digital experience fans will enjoy on site and the innovative television coverage people will enjoy at home.
“We are also delighted to have brought a country versus country element to the fore. There is no question that the greatest atmosphere in golf comes every two years at The Ryder Cup and we are keen to try and emulate that national fervour in this format. We are in the entertainment content business with golf as our platform and GolfSixes is the perfect illustration of that.
“I encourage everyone, whether they are a golf fan or not, to come along to the Centurion Club in May and immerse yourself in an occasion which will be unlike anything else you have experienced on a golf course before.”
“We are immensely proud that the European Tour has chosen Centurion Club as the place to launch this new and exciting tournament format that should prove to be a popular spectacle among golf fans of all ages and echoes the ethos of our forward-thinking club,” added Michael Duffy, sales and marketing manager of Centurion Club.
Meanwhile, among The R&A changes under consideration are plans to:
- Remove any penalty for accidentally moving your ball.
- Relax the protocols for taking free or penalty drops, with the ball dropped from only an inch above the ground, rather than shoulder height.
- Use fixed distances (20 or 80 inches) rather than club lengths to measure areas where a ball should be dropped.
- Reduce the time allowed to search for a lost ball from five to three minutes.
- Allow putting on the green with the flagstick left in the hole.
- Allow players to repair spike marks and animal damage on greens.
- Automatically allow the use of distance measuring devices.
- Ban caddies from lining up players as they prepare to hit.
- Recommend no player takes more than 40 seconds to hit a shot.
- Encourage players in strokeplay to implement “ready golf” rather than waiting until it is their turn to hit.
- Empower committees to set a maximum score for a hole (such as double par or triple bogey) to allow a player to pick up and move to the next hole.
“This is the biggest set of changes in a generation,” said David Rickman, R&A executive director of governance.
“We’ve not been afraid to consider fundamental change.”