How refreshing was it to turn on the television this weekend and discover that both the European Tour and the LPGA had veered away from traditional 72-hole formats?
With the PGA also using a team based event two weeks ago to fill what is usually a lull in the season between the Masters and US Open, it appears that the major tours have finally sat up and started listening to what the fans have long been crying out for. Namely, innovative events that have us reaching for our remotes from the get go, rather than merely down the home stretch on Sunday.
A long-hole-contest, music on the tee, a 40-second shot clock, and of course a six-hole format, the GolfSixes tournament may not have been golf as we know it, but that certainly didn’t seem to dampen the atmosphere.
Yes, the event wasn’t perfect, it appeared at times overtly gimmicky, while the celebrity commentary certainly wasn’t to everybody’s taste. Nonetheless, the emphasis the tournament placed on encouraging junior golfers, with local children being given the opportunity to meet the stars and play their own version of the two-man tournament at the Centurion Club’s pitch and putt course, was fantastic to see.
Add in fan-player interaction, and the event’s willingness to hit slow play head-on, and it’s hard not to believe that the game’s image wouldn’t be substantially enhanced by the addition of similar events.
The Tour’s gamble of dipping into their own coffers to host the £1 million event without a title sponsor appears to have paid off, with investors already reported to have shown interest in backing a series of GolfSixes events which will fit within the Tour’s traditional schedule.
But for all our praise, we can’t help thinking that the event would be enhanced further with the addition of a feminine touch.
Mixed teams wouldn’t only add additional flavour to the tournament but would also go a long way to enhancing the profile of the women’s game.
We’re not talking a ‘battle of the sexes’, but by pairing the top male and female players from each nation together could provide the recipe for an exciting new event.
Despite the odd occasion when the men’s and women’s tours converge at the same venue, such as the 2014 US Open, and the annual LET and European Tour event in Morocco, there are currently no mixed gender events at the top of the game.
Lexi Thompson proved that there need be no barriers for the top women competing with the men, when she played alongside Bryon DeChambeau at the Franklin Templeton Shootout last December.
Michelle Wie’s ill-fated attempts to play alongside the men as a youngster, may have warned the top women off trying to compete on the PGA, but that’s no reason to stop the sexes playing alongside each other.
It's certainly something we’d love to see.
Sei Young Kim Wins Lorena Ochoa Matchplay. Read More