Mak­ing over golf with GolfSixes

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE DOU­GLAS

Walk­out mu­sic. Py­rotech­nics. A long-drive com­pe­ti­tion. Shot clocks. Miked-up play­ers.

Golf gets an­other makeover this weekend when the Euro­pean Tour rolls out its lat­est at­tempt at in­no­va­tion, the in­au­gu­ral GolfSixes tour­na­ment (Golf Chan­nel, 7:30 a.m. Satur­day and Sunday).

Played over two days in St. Al­bans, Eng­land, GolfSixes is a six­hole match play event fea­tur­ing two-man teams from 16 coun­tries com­pet­ing for a prize of $1.1 mil­lion US.

“It’s an in­no­va­tive way to get young kids to play, bring it out of the old age a bit and into the new age,” Eng­land player Andy Sul­li­van said. “It’s based around be­ing more fun, more re­laxed, but still be­ing com­pet­i­tive.”

Toronto’s Keith Pel­ley, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Euro­pean Tour since 2015, is striv­ing to broaden the ap­peal of golf and make it ac­ces­si­ble and rel­e­vant in an in­creas­ingly crowded mar­ket­place in sports.

Fun ap­pears to be the name of the game this weekend, with the Euro­pean Tour us­ing it as a “proof of con­cept” to see whether it could be­come a reg­u­lar event on the Euro­pean Tour sched­ule.

Pel­ley, who was pre­vi­ously pres­i­dent of Rogers Me­dia in Canada, reg­u­larly stresses that golf is in the “en­ter­tain­ment con­tent busi­ness” and wants to liven up what is of­ten per­ceived as a staid sport.

This is the sec­ond in­no­va­tive tour­na­ment, fol­low­ing the de­but of the World Su­per 6 in Perth, Aus­tralia, in Fe­bru­ary. The field was short on top play­ers on that oc­ca­sion and it will be the same this weekend, with no one from the top 60 in the world rank­ing in ac­tion.

The teams will be split into groups of four on Day 1, with the top two from each group pro­gress­ing to the knock­out stages. The quar­ter­fi­nals, semi­fi­nals and fi­nal will take place on Day 2.

Each hole has a dis­tinc­tive theme: mu­sic and py­rotech­nics on No. 1, char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions for birdies on No. 2, long-drive com­pe­ti­tion on the 525-yard No. 3, 40-sec­ond shot clock on No. 4, clos­est to the pin on No. 5 and on-course in­ter­views on No. 6.

The teams will play in a green­somes for­mat, where the best tee shot is selected and al­ter­nate shot is played there­after.

AN­DREW BROWNBILL, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Eng­land’s Chris Wood will be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the in­au­gu­ral GolfSixes tour­na­ment this weekend.

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