The European Tour takes perhaps its biggest step towards innovating the game with the induction of GolfSixes this week.
Two days, two-man teams, nation vs nation, alternate shots, six-hole match-plays, group stages, knockouts and one winner is in store at Centurion Club at the weekend.
Compatriot pairs from England to Thailand, Australia to the USA, will battle it out for the inaugural GolfSixes title.Embed from Getty Images
The big talking point for the event is the format.
Matches will be six holes long, played as Greensomes meaning the best tee shot of each team will be chosen with alternate shot played from there on out.
16 two-man teams are split into four groups of four and will play each other once in the group stage. In this stage teams earn three points for a win, one point for a draw and no points for a loss; points difference is taken into account to separate team on the same number of points, but if that can’t separate them it goes to a play-off hole.
The top two teams will progress to the quarter finals and it’s straight knockout from their, leading up to a third place play-off and final. Any matches drawn in the knockout stage will be decided by as many repeats of a shortened play-off hole, on the 18th, as necessary to find a winner.Embed from Getty Images
The group stages will be completed on Saturday with the knockout rounds completed on Sunday.
The six holes, at Centurion Club, are played across a 2,276 yard par 24 course with two par fours, two par threes and – including the final hole – two par fives. The players walk out to the opening hole, It’s Show Time, to music, pyrotechnics and grand stands of spectators, and proceed through Birdies for Good, Power, Shot Clock, Accuracy and Finale as the European Tour is doing all it can to add excitement to the sport.Embed from Getty Images
To add to this further, players are hooked up to a microphone, encouraged to interact with fans, involve themselves in the fanzone and take part in post round interviews with regular hosts as well as celebrity hosts such as Kevin Pietersen and Vernon Kay.
The teams are made up of the two available leading ranked European Tour players from the 2017 Exemption Category List (as of March 13).
After representing Europe at the Ryder Cup together, England’s Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan, greatly differing in stature, enter as favourites to win the event with, winner of last week’s Volvo China Open, Alexander Levy and Grégory Bourdy representing France as second favourites.Embed from Getty Images
Full country and player list:
England: Chris Wood & Andy Sullivan
Thailand: Thongchai Jaidee & Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Australia: Sam Brazel & Scott Hend
South Africa: Darren Fichardt, & Brandon Stone
Denmark: Thorbjørn Olesen, & Lucas Bjerregaard
France: Alexander Levy, & Grégory Bourdy
Spain: Pablo Larrazábal & Alejandro Cañizares
Wales: Bradley Dredge & Jamie Donaldson
USA: Paul Peterson & David Lipsky
Netherlands: Joost Luiten & Reinier Saxton
Belgium: Nicolas Colsaerts & Thomas Detry
Sweden: Johan Carlsson & Joakim Lagergren
India: S.S.P Chawrasia & Chikkarangappa S
Portugal: Ricardo Gouveia & José-Filipe Lima
Italy: Matteo Manassero & Renato Paratore
Scotland: Richie Ramsay & Marc Warren
There’s no history of the event to look back on and, with extreme modifications to the original course to generate the atmosphere, course form will offer little of an insight either.
It’s impossible to know exactly what to expect this week but, for the sake of combatting the stigma of golf being boring, we hope it’s the success it’s lined up to be.