32 golf clubs will take on GolfSixes branding

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 8, 2017 11:48

The GolfSixes tournament, which saw fireworks, music, a shot clock and top golfers competing over six holes of golf, has already had a positive effect on golf participation, according to a charity.

The Golf Foundation reports that the event at Centurion Club resulted in local children showcasing how this dynamic team format can help grow the junior game in many of our golf clubs – and will see 32 English golf clubs launching an academy based on the tournament this summer.

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND – MAY 05: Professionals Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark, Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark, Scott Hend of Australia and Sam Brazel of Australia are pictured with schoolchildren during a Golf Foundation GolfSixes Academy event prior to the start of GolfSixes at The Centurion Club in St Albans. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

GolfSixes is the revolutionary new short form of golf from the European Tour that saw two-man teams from 16 nations competing around a six-hole circuit for a prize fund of €1 million.

On the eve of the tournament the charity staged its own junior GolfSixes team event in St Albans. Star players agreed to captain four teams of five boys and girls from local schools. Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaard – who went on to win the main event, and Australia’s Sam Brazel and Scott Hend, were said to be an inspiration to the children.

It was so successful that the Golf Foundation has announced that it will be helping youngsters emulate their European Tour heroes by piloting ‘GolfSixes Academy’ events in 32 golf clubs around England over the summer, employing the European Tour’s GolfSixes branding.

Funded by Sport England, playing the exciting team format over six holes, promising new young golfers will represent their golf clubs in a league against other local clubs while kitted out in team shirts. All of the clubs involved operate the Golf Foundation’s successful HSBC Golf Roots programme that helps young people to ‘Start, Learn and Stay’ in golf.

Frederik Lindgren, head of Corporate Responsibility at the European Tour, said: “One of the main aims of the new GolfSixes concept is to attract more people to the sport, whether that is taking up the game themselves or as spectators.

Tegan Hancox is watched by GolfSixes champion Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark during a GolfSixes Academy event. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“Through our existing relationship with the Golf Foundation, together we identified the GolfSixes Academy concept as a great way of bringing the GolfSixes format directly to young people in clubs across England, the host country of the first ever event, allowing the benefits of the format to extend beyond the opening weekend at Centurion Club.”

Brendon Pyle, chief executive of the Golf Foundation, said: “The aim of the GolfSixes Academy is to encourage more young people, supported by their parents, to enjoy the fun and competitive team atmosphere of golf, similar to other team sports such as football or netball, so that they want to play golf on a more regular basis.

“GolfSixes, with its team formats and kit, Texas scramble shot-making for the kids and the family involvement, will be a great addition to our support for clubs and we are hugely grateful to the European Tour for allowing us to embrace the GolfSixes brand in this way. This is all very progressive and we wish all the players the best of luck in this inaugural event at Centurion Club.”

The BBC’s golf correspondent, Iain Carter, said GolfSixes could revolutionise the sport.

“Golf has gained ‘six-appeal’ and taken a significant step towards finding a marketable short form of the game,” he said.

“It proved popular with players and fans and established itself as the blueprint for the sport’s version of cricket’s Twenty20 format.

Rhianna Patel is watched by GolfSixes champion Lucas Bjerregaard. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“Introducing the use of a shot clock on one of the holes is an idea that could swiftly be incorporated in existing long-form tournaments.

“During the first day of round-robin group matches, players were allowed 40 seconds to execute their strokes. That was reduced to 30 for the second day of knockout matches.

“But this inaugural event also proved meaningful golf matches can be played over as few as six holes. They can be done and dusted in little over an hour and a decent tournament can be completed in a weekend.

“This is just what golf needs with the current perception that it is increasingly losing out because it takes too long to play and watch.

“For spectators, there was plenty to watch and hear. Some of the stuff pumped through the microphones and speakers missed the mark but an engaging atmosphere was generated.”

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has identified slow play as golf’s biggest enemy. He said: “There needs to be another way to attract the younger generation. Is this the answer? Maybe, and we will take what is good out of this and build on it.”


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir May 8, 2017 11:48
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