The popularity of golf and its ability to attract players to the game has been a topic of discussion recently. We’re officially out of the Tiger era, and although golf is in great hands with young stars like Jordan and Rory, the governing bodies of golf and its tours are thinking of new ways to market the sport. In this regard, the European Tour has been at the forefront of innovation.
The tour’s first foray into new and exciting formats of competition came at last year’s British Masters. On Tuesday night of that week, 8 players that were in the event faced off in the “Hero Challenge” – a 1-vs-1 par 3 knockout challenge contested at night with pyrotechnics, a stage, an MC, and a crowd.
Yes, it was as awesome as it looks. The television production did it justice as well – with Trackman pro-tracer plus stats and quick interviews immediately following shots. The Euro Tour recently announced that Hero extended its sponsorship to hold three more challenges this season – at the Scottish Open, British Masters, and Tour Championship. Check out this recap to see what the players said about it.
The tour took a step further this year, creating two tournaments with never-before-seen competition formats that alters the traditional 72-hole stroke play format. The World Super 6 Perth and GolfSixes. The Super 6 Perth was a successful event earlier this year that had a full field and 36-hole stroke-play cut. Then, there would be another cut after 54 holes, but on Sunday, a match-play knockout tournament was played on a 6 hole course (more details on the format). Brett Rumford led after 54 holes and ended up winning the tournament which tied it up nicely.
That has helped lead to the excitement of GolfSixes this weekend. A two-day event that is cutting 2 days and stroke-play from its format. It’s the World Cup, complete with two-player country squads playing group stages, then, going to knockouts on a 6 hole course. But it gets slightly more complicated than that (check out a great video breakdown of what’s going on). It will be a quick-paced format encouraging fans to cheer for their home country – pretty cool right?
What may be even more exciting about this week is what’s going on beyond the format of play. Each hole has it’s own theme, and includes Hero Challenge-like qualities: pyros, music, whiskey bar, and shot clocks:
This puts your company’s corporate outing to shame.
I’m pumped to watch this weekend, and it’s great to see that the European Tour’s experiments are beginning to influence others. Just this last week, the Zurich Classic was a team event complete with benefits for the winners like most weeks on Tour: 2 year exemptions, money, FedEx Cup points, TOC appearances, and exemptions into The Players next week.
The American team this week in the Sixes is expats Paul Peterson and David Lipsky, two full-time European Tour players who both have victories on tour. It’s always fun to follow the American contingent on the Euro tour because there are so few of them – most notably in the past few years, Brooks Koepka and Peter Uileihn.
Good luck to everyone in the Sixes this weekend and I’m positive that they’ll have a good time – no matter what!