Who’s ready for something just a little bit different?
European Tour supremo Keith Pelley hopes each and every one of us are as the innovative GolfSixes gets ready to take centre stage this weekend at Centurion Club in St Albans, England.
Music and pyrotechnics on the first tee, nearest-the-pin challenges and on-course interviews are just a few of the features which will be in play throughout the six-hole course as national two-man teams take part in this world cup style tournament.
It’s golf, but not as we know it.
The players will face a specially constructed 2,276-yard, par 24 course at Centurion Club, St Albans. The tee-boxes are raised high above fairway level and the full course incorporates 80 bunkers and four water hazards.
This will be the first time the Centurion Club has been used for European Tour competition.
Two-man teams from 16 nations compete on a six-hole circuit, with the pairs split in to four groups of four for a round-robin tournament. A greensome format will be in play throughout. Each player hits a tee shot and chooses their best before hitting alternate shots until posting a score.
Each team will play three times in the group stages with three points for a win over six holes, one for a draw and, of course, zero if defeated. The top two teams progress to the knockout stages with these played over as many holes as is required to determine a winner. A shortened shootout hole will be used in a play-off situation.
Meet the Teams
With the draw for the group stages having already been completed, let’s have a look at who’s playing who.
GROUP A England, Denmark, Netherlands, India.
GROUP B Thailand, Spain, Belgium, Scotland.
GROUP C Australia, Wales, USA, Portugal.
GROUP D South Africa, France, Sweden, Italy.
In Group A the home crowd will be treated to the pairing of 2016 Ryder Cup debutants Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan. Most notably they come up against a Danish team which includes the enigmatic 2016 Turkish Airlines champion Thorbjorn Olesen and his compatriot Lucas Bjerregaard.
If it comes down to a play-off on Sunday, Sullivan has form.
The Thai representatives of Kiradech Arphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee will start on Saturday as favourites to take Group B. Scotland’s Richie Ramsey and Marc Warren will be doing all they can to upset the odds, while the big-hitting Belgian Nicholas Colsearts will be keen to show his power during the long drive competition on the 525-yard par 5 third hole.
2014 European Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson stars alongside Bradley Dredge in Group C for the Welsh team, while the Australian pair of Scott Hend and Sam Brazel will provide stern opposition.
Let’s remind ourselves of ‘that’ shot from the Welshman.
Group D involves one of the favourites for the GolfSixes as last week’s Volvo Open champion Alexander Levy forms a strong French alliance with Gregory Bourdy. They will be up against a steely South African team in Brandon Stone and Darren Fichardt – both early season winners – as well as an Italian side which includes the youngest player to win a European Tour event, Matteo Manassero.
Hit or Miss?
It will be interesting to see if the European Tour can follow the success of the World Super 6 series in Perth earlier this season and garner interest in shortened formats of the game.
It has been said that if you aren’t innovating, you are going backwards. This week’s GolfSixes at Centurion Club is nothing if not innovative.
Let’s see how it pans out.
What do you think about the European Tour's newest format? Who is your winner?