GolfSixes certainly made an impact this week in the world of golf, but what did we learn from the entertaining and innovative two days of action at Centurion Golf Club?
Thorbjørn Olesen is very good at team golf
Denmark came into the GolfSixes as one of the favourites for the title, in part due to Thorbjørn Olesen's role in the winning side at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf in Australia last November. On that occasion the four-time European Tour winner had Søren Kjeldsen as his teammate. This time around he had the big-hitting Lucas Bjerregaard for company – however the change in personnel didn’t affect Olesen’s form one bit, with the 27 year old producing some fine golf all week at Centurion Golf Club. Whether it’s the pride Thorbjørn feels at representing his country, or the camaraderie of a partnership, one thing is for sure, Olesen is a real force in team golf.
The Shot Clock was well received
There has been a lot of talk about the pace of play in professional golf and this week we had one hole, which was conveniently called ‘Shot Clock’, dedicated to encouraging quicker play. In sessions one and two of the first day’s play, the clock, which followed the players for the duration of the par four fourth hole, was set at 40 seconds before moving to 30 seconds for the remainder of the event. It was another innovation which the galleries could interact with, with the fans encouraged to get involved and countdown from ten if the clock reached that number. Rather than putting off the players, a lot of the field embraced the shot clock, with Andy Sullivan and Alex Levy purposefully letting the clock run down to get the fans involved, before delivering swift blows to the back of their ball in the final moments. Even Paul Peterson, the one and only player to fall foul of the shot clock this week, took it well:
All the best for the teams in @GolfSixes tomorrow! A gentle reminder to all competitors... there is a shot clock on the 4th hole!— Paul Peterson (@PPetersonGolf) 6 May 2017
The players loved the Golf Sixes
There’s always bound to be a certain amount of apprehension coming into a new, untested form of golf, however once the players arrived on site in England they were quickly swept up by the atmosphere and excitement around the inaugural GolfSixes. Everything about the week was different, and it turns out the players like change, with many of them taking to social media all week to heap praise on the event. The other part of Denmark’s winning duo, Lucas Bjerregaard, said in the winner’s press conference that he would like to see this type of event on the European Tour schedule three times a season, with Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia describing the event as ‘awesome’.
Six hole formats produce quality golf
It was very important that all the teams at the Golf Sixes this week started well and found early birdies and eagles, with each match contested over just six holes. And find birdies and eagles they did. All of the new innovations and the different atmosphere in St. Albans didn’t affect the quality of the golf one bit, with the fans witnessing some great golf and scoring. England, represented by Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan, birdied five of their six holes on their way to sweeping aside the Netherlands on day one, while Scotland, Portugal and Thailand all shot greensomes 61s over their three six hole matches on day one. Impressive.
The fans (young and old) were engaged with it
As well as everything being new and different this week, the other thing that quickly become apparent upon arrival on site at Centurion was the number of young fans at the event. Many were congregated around the first tee, with some even situated on the first tee itself with an amazing view of the action, and getting to take part in the big first tee entrance. That’s the sort of experience which might just bring about an interest in the game of golf among the youngsters.
However, it wasn’t all about the kids at the GolfSixes, with plenty of other age demographics represented and enjoying the action.
Golf Innovating is a positive thing
This week the European Tour tried something different. We never said we would get everything right first time, but overall, the event was received very well and can be considered a success. Like all sports, golf has to innovate to keep up with the trends and encourage the next generation to take up the mantle of keeping this great sport in the limelight. The GolfSixes, with the Shot Clock, the loud first tee entrance and the new, shorter format, certainly did that. We can’t wait for the next instalment already…