European Tour furthers innovation strategy with new GolfSixes event

Golf’s European Tour has continued its drive for innovation in the sport by unveiling a new event entitled GolfSixes.

The inaugural tournament, featuring a prize fund of €1m ($1.07m) – will make its debut on the European Tour schedule at the Centurion Club in St Albans, to the north west of English capital London, on May 6-7. It will be played over six holes, rather than golf’s traditional 18-hole format.

The event, which has been touted as golf’s version of cricket’s Twenty20, will feature two-man teams from 16 different nations with each nation being represented by its leading ranked and available European Tour member from the 2017 Exemption Category List as at March 13, who will be joined by a compatriot of his choosing from within European Tour membership.

The first day’s play will see the teams split into four groups of four before the top two teams from each group progress to the knockout stages – the quarter-finals, the semi-finals, a third/fourth place play-off match and the final – all of which will be contested on the final day.

In the group stages, three points will be given for winning a match with one point given for a draw while the matches themselves will be played in a greensomes match-play format. The European Tour said both days’ play will be shown live by its rights-holder in the UK, pay-television broadcaster Sky Sports, and around the world on the Tour’s world feed network.

The six holes will be designed so they wind their way around a centrally located fan zone at the Hertfordshire venue. In addition to amphitheatre-style stands around the tees and greens, there will be music and pyrotechnics on the first tee and at various points around the course, with all players fitted with microphones.

The Tour said players will also be encouraged to interact with the fans during play and in the intervals between their matches, including taking part in Q&A sessions in the fan zone, while it plans to provide live streaming on social media.

Digital fan experience plans include polls, user-generated content and unique social media content while the Tour said it will enhance broadcast coverage through POV cameras, caddie cams, unique camera angles and on-course player interviews.

Keith Pelley, chief executive of the European Tour, said: “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.”

The European Tour is this week co-sanctioning an innovative new tournament in the Australian city of Perth that will feature a six-hole shoot-out competition on its fourth and final day. World Super 6 Perth will take place at Lake Karrinyup Country Club from February 16-19.

The first three days of the event will be played out in the traditional 18-hole-a-day stroke play format, with a regular cut to fall after 36 holes. The top 24-ranked players at the end of Saturday's play will progress to the final day's action, at which point the revolutionary six-hole shoot-out format will be introduced.