Golf’s “grow the game” initiatives in the past have been a lot of fluff and little substance, but the European Tour is trying to change that with a common-sense approach. The game’s biggest stumbling blocks as it concerns participation growth is that it’s too expensive, it takes too long and it’s too stuffy. TopGolf cracked that code introducing a fun, cheap and a timely alternative to five-hour rounds.
Following the lead of Twenty20, which has transformed cricket, the European Tour are looking to play golf over a shorter format than its traditional 18 holes, with added elements of theatre to add to the spectacle. The theory goes that these additions will help attract more young players and boost TV audience figures.
The new format could be an international matchplay competition – the popular style of golf used in the Ryder Cup – rather than strokeplay, which is the over/under par format for most golf tournaments.
Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, said he wants to ‘experiment’ with the innovative format in 2017 and ‘maybe roll it out in 2018’.
“It would probably be a country competition,” Pelley told BBC Radio 5 Live. “So you could see England playing Scotland in a six-hole matchplay. If you’re not prepared to change, you’re not prepared to be innovative, if you’re not prepared to actually take chances, then sports will fall behind.”
He added: “Yes, there’d be a shot clock. Yes, there’d be music and players would probably be dressed a bit differently. Maybe they’d only play with five or seven clubs.”
More fun, less time, less exclusion… that sounds so crazy, it just might work.