The European Tour’s innovative concept of GolfSixes certainly added the speed and engagement to the game that they were after, but in the process it removed the intensity and application that fuels so many fans’ love for the game.
For those unaware, the Tour introduced its inaugural GolfSixes event this weekend where teams of two played six-hole matches through group stages, quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final – with Denmark eventually running out winners. That side of the concept was great; speed golf, high drama and a quick turnaround.
The downfall of the event, however, was the surrounding commotion. All tournament-intensity and sporting drive was sapped from the event leaving it – what I can only describe as – ‘gimmicky’.
Players walked out onto the first hole into music, pyrotechnics and unenthusiastically cheering crowds to be greeted by a large pink ‘6’ mascot; all this whilst waving their nations flag and sporting a foam finger or spectator paraphernalia of the like. It was reminiscent of the entry at darts meetings, where arenas are packed at night with thousands of intoxicated partiers, not a few hundred golf fans on a Sunday morning.
Announcers did all they could to encourage participation from spectators, introducing virtually every shot and pushing for noise. Their encouragement was met in vain and created more of a cringeworthy atmosphere, rather than the amphitheatrical one they were after. Furthering this was the use of celebrity, non-golfing presenters, such as Vernon Kay. With little knowledge on the game compared to regulars and a lack of experience in presenting sport, the new hosts looked somewhat awkward and out of place.
Perhaps the intended entertaining additions would have paid dividends if the spectators bought into them as much as the European Tour and Sky Sports did. Instead, the majority of spectators seemed to half-heartedly involve themselves in proceedings, leaving the event’s atmosphere in a bizarre grey area between test match cricket and the Super Bowl.
Sport is meant to be focused, intense and competitive. The gimmicks added in GolfSixes by the European Tour only served to detract from the serious-nature that sport is enshrined in and caused players to seemingly take an inconsequential attitude towards the event; an event that had a prize fund of $1,000,000, might I point out.
As aforementioned, the sporting set-up, similar to the t20 variation of cricket, was great and could go a long way to renovating the game and attracting a whole new wealth of fans to the sport. The theatrical set-up was the issue. Unless the European Tour can ensure greater enthusiasm in future, the theatrics will only disrepute a great sporting concept in years to come.
My advice to the European Tour would be: keep the golfing concept (and push for more likewise events within the schedule), but lose the gimmicks.