Joy of Golf: PGA and European Tours spice-up formats to attract new fans

In this week’s column, Joy Chakravarty says there are still issues to be ironed out with the three expanded tournaments.

Joy Chakravarty
by Joy Chakravarty
16th February 2017

article:16th February 2017

Super start: Louis Oosthuizen.
Super start: Louis Oosthuizen.

This week’s World Super 6 Perth on the European Tour is the first of three brand new formats being tried by professional golf tours to lure in the millennials and expand its fan base.

From April 27-30, the Zurich Classic in New Orleans on the PGA Tour will feature a team format, and this will be followed by the recently announced GolfSixes, also on the European Tour, which will be a two-day, two-man, nationbased team event on May 6-7.


Off the three, the GolfSixes is the most interesting one, because it is completely different. The World Super 6 is the usual strokeplay for the first three days, followed by a shootout between the top-24 players.

The Zurich Classic will be a 72-hole format with the teams playing Foursomes (alternate shot) during the first and third rounds and Four-Ball (best ball) during the second and fourth rounds. Both the tournaments will be four-day affairs, but not GolfSixes.

The 16 teams (of two players from each country) will be divided into four groups for round-robin matches on the opening day over six holes, followed by knock-out between the top two teams from each group the next day.

It will have shorter matches, will create more excitement because it will generate national fervour, and there are various add-on gimmicks planned like walk-in music, players with mics and enhanced interaction with the fans.

To get a player’s view, I asked Henrik Stenson what he thought of the new innovations, and he had a brilliant perspective on these innovations.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with the current format of strokeplay golf, which is a complete test of a player over 72 holes. But I am all for it if new formats bring new fans to the game. My only issue is that the tournament winner should be the one who has better overall skills. It should not come down to something silly like the championship getting decided by how far one can throw his golf shoes,” said Stenson.

There are a couple of issues with these tournaments that need to be ironed out. The first and foremost is how world ranking points will be allocated in such events.

That is very important because ranking points is the biggest attraction for most elite players. There cannot be any world ranking points for Zurich Classic, nor for the GolfSixes, as both are team events.

Jordan Spieth.

Jordan Spieth.

Then, there is also the question of how many points to be given to players playing shorter formats. While the World Super 6 looks like a well thought out format, just imagine a scenario where a player who is leading by half a dozen shots after three strokeplay rounds, is knocked out in his first shootout round.

Of course, it is foolish to expect a perfect product as soon as it is launched. These tournaments will have to go through a period of trial and tribulations.

In the meantime, lets just applaud the efforts being made by the Tours to take the Royal & Ancient game to a more modern fanbase.

COMPARISONS ARE GREAT

Really, players must get used to comparisons. Of course, they are odious. But they also provide great talking points for fans.

Anyone who has seen Tiger Woods dominate the golf world in the 2000s, wants to know if he was as good, or better, than Sam Snead in the 1940s.

When Jordan Spieth wins nine PGA Tour titles before turning 24, you’ve got to be curious as to who is above him and who is below him in that list.

And once you do that, it is natural to compare. So, here is the list of the three youngest players since World War II to win nine titles:

Tiger Woods – 23 years, 5 months, 7 days

Jordan Spieth – 23 years, 6 months, 16 days

Jack Nicklaus – 24 years, 19 days

When you are faced with such a stat, you have got to compare. In this case, because majors are considered the greatest yardstick of success by most players, Nicklaus claimed three majors in his first nine wins, Spieth two and Woods just one.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods


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