Golf has had trouble attracting new, younger fans to the sport. For a variety of reasons, it has been difficult to attract new players even to Florida golf schools where the weather is nearly perfect year round.
However, the European Tour is trying to change that, and usher in a new generation of golfers. But it isn’t just “attracting” new golfers that the European Tour is attempting to do. The organization wants to introduce a new breed of fans to the sport, and it thinks it knows how to do it.
GolfSixes is the new concept that is hoped to bring a hip, new feel to the game. Taking place at St. Albans Centurion Club in England, the tournament will be played in mid-May. Like cricket’s attempt at becoming more of an action packed, sexy sport to drive new fans in, the European Tour has taken a similar slant.
The tournament’s novel approach may raise the eyebrows of golf purists, but many will love the new idea. Like Happy Gilmore meets the XFL, GolfSixes is for the modern world of social media and energy drink consuming public.
The tournament will feature stands for fans to sit or stand on around the tee boxes. But that isn’t all. Music and pyrotechnics will also be used, and golfers will wear microphones for a more interactive experience. No word if there will be cheerleaders or not.
A new era of golf
Over $1 million will be at stake when the tournament tees off in May. The shorter game, sort of, hopes to provide more action to fans with less downtime.
GolfSixes concept is simple as it will feature four groups of four teams each. The top two sides will advance to the next round of golf, giving GolfSixes an NCAA basketball tournament like feel.
When day two tees off, GolfSixes will feature the quarterfinals, semifinals and final in the same day of action. There will also be a third place game. Each round will feature six holes, hence the tournament’s name. Once a team makes it to the knockout round, they can expect 18-holes of golf; if they can navigate the competition.
The European Tour can’t be faulted for their innovative idea in trying to interest fans of golf. The rules for the tournament are pretty straightforward to golf fans, but it is the pace and other areas that will be most noticeable.
The 32, two-man teams that make up the field will battle it out in a greensomes format. Each player will hit tee shots on each hole, with the best shot of the two being taken. From there, the players will alternate between shots until the hole is complete.
The first team to finish the hole will be awarded one point. The team with the most points after six holes will win and advance. Similar to European soccer, a team that wins the group play match will be awarded three points, while teams will get one point for a draw.
The European Tour members will make up the GolfSixes tournament. Several countries will be represented by their leading ranked player competing in the European Tour. The leading member will then select a teammate to play in the two-day event.
Although it isn’t something you will learn at a Florida golf school – at least not yet – GolfSixes is an attempt to change the conceptions of the sport. Will it work? It could. Cricket’s bastard child offshoot, T20 Cricket has become a success in the years since its arrival. It may not be long until a professional GolfSixes league is up and running.
If it is a success in Europe, it won’t be long until it arrives on American shores and takes the country by storm.