New Zealand Golf Magazine

JUNIOR THOUGHTS

Last month, I mentioned that shortening some club events to 9 holes could be good for the game. While many may disagree with that, it does raise another question why stop the reduction there?

- WORDS BY ALEX McDONALD

Golf but not as we traditiona­lly know it.

In this instance, profession­al golf

seems to be leading the way, as the World Super 6 tournament held in Perth last year did just that. The first three rounds of the tournament were a standard 54 holes of strokeplay, with cuts after 36 and 54. From this point however, the top 24 players battled it out over 5 rounds of matchplay, with each match taking place over just 6 holes. Any halved matches were then decided by a 90 metre “Shootout hole”, making for high pressure shots, but also the opportunit­y for the world's best to rise to the occasion.

The European Tour also ran with the idea of shortened matches earlier this year, with the GolfSixes Tournament held in May at the Centurion Club in England. However, this was a team event, with 16 two man teams representi­ng their respective nations. Each match was again over just 6 holes, this time using the greensomes format. This involves both players hitting a tee shot, then playing alternate shots from the best of the two. A group stage of three matches was used to decide the top-8, with ties decided by a ‘hole difference' score. If this still couldn't separate teams, a shortened playoff hole was played once, followed by a nearest the pin competitio­n if still tied.

The atmosphere of the event was built up through big screens, entrance music and themed holes. For example, the 4th hole had a 40 second shot clock, with a one stroke penalty for exceeding it – maybe the speed of play could be increased at all clubs with the introducti­on of a similar rule! By all accounts both fans and players thoroughly enjoyed the event, with the emphasis on fun not detracting from the quality of golf on display.

I can imagine this format for a team event going down incredibly well at a club level, and would be a great change from the standard Ambrose events that are particular­ly popular with corporate groups. Over 6 holes, every shot counts for that little bit extra. In standard 18 hole matchplay, going one or two down early isn't the end of the world, there's still plenty of golf to play. Over 6, there's no time for “warm up holes” or to get a couple of loose shots out of the system. This could put some people off, but a club tournament consisting of multiple matches would make sure everyone still gets the amount of golf they expect, and there would be no excuse to not come out firing later in the day!

An event similar to the Akarana beach-themed Opening Day held earlier this year would be a perfect opportunit­y to test the format. The compulsory dress up element made for a lot of laughs, with both staff and members of all ages getting fully involved in the atmosphere of the day. Holding the event over a shortened course would allow those not involved in a match to spectate, and put a bit of pressure on their mates. The only real concern would be the number of entrants that could be involved, with fewer holes to spread teams across. Perhaps 3 separate 6 hole courses could be establishe­d over the existing 18.

While, the 6 hole format is still a bit of a gimmick rather than something to be considered for serious competitio­n, I feel that it could still have a place in the future of the game. Anything that makes the game more enjoyable has got to be a positive in my eyes. While I wouldn't want to play this kind of tournament every week, two or three a year could be a welcome addition to the calendar of most clubs. Golf has a habit of taking itself incredibly seriously.

Why not loosen up a little and have some fun?

 ??  ?? Thorbjorn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaar­d of Denmark during the GolfSixes at The Centurion Club on May 7, 2017 in St Albans, England.
Thorbjorn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregaar­d of Denmark during the GolfSixes at The Centurion Club on May 7, 2017 in St Albans, England.

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