Golf Sixes is coming to the Centurion Club on the 6th-7th May and will showcase the latest innovative golf format pioneered by the European Tour.
The traditional 72 hole set-up has been replaced as two-man teams from 16 nations are set to compete in a greensomes knock-out format over six holes, substituting the standard match-play format with a football scoring system.
Each hole will promise a unique viewing experience, from a longest drive leaderboard to a shot-clock scoreboard that adds penalty shots for slow play.
2017 has been a playground for the introduction of new formats, already seen at last week's Zurich Classic, the World Super Six Perth in January and the World Hero Challenge event that coincided with the British Masters last year. The European Tour has been at the forefront of this change, hoping to reach greater audiences and encourage further engagement within the sport.
Golf Sixes presents a unique example of this innovation, and a mixture of celebrity hosts, amphitheatre grandstands and pyrotechnics will be there to ensure there is non-stop entertainment from every corner of the six-hole course.
Golf Sixes: Who is playing?
Ryder Cup Players and European Tour champions a plenty occupy the field, where golfers from 16 different nations will compete to be crowned the champion duo on the final day.
England’s Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan enter as favourites at the top of the rankings, while Scotland’s Mark Warren and Ritchie Ramsay occupy the last qualifying spot in to the event.
England: Chris Wood, Andy Sullivan [#1]
Denmark: Thorbørn Olesen, Lucas Bjerregaard [#5]
Netherlands: Joost Luiten, Reinier Saxton [#10]
India: S.S.P Chawrasia, S Chikkarangappa [#13]
Thailand: Thongchai Jaidee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat [#2]
Spain: Pablo Larrazabal, Alejandro Canizares [#7]
Belgium: Nicolas Colsearts, Thomas Detry [#11]
Scotland: Richie Ramsay, Marc Warren [#16]
Australia: Sam Brazel, Scott Hend [#3]
USA: Paul Peterson, David Lipsky [#8]
Wales: Bradley Dredge, Jamie Donaldson [#9]
Portugal: Ricardo Gouveia, Jose-Filipe Lima [#14]
South Africa: Darren Fichardt, Brandon Stone [#4]
France: Alexander Levy, Gregory Bourdy [#6]
Sweden: Joakim Lagergen, Johan Carlsson [#12]
Italy: Matteo Manassero, Renato Panatore [#15]
To view the entire draw schedule for Saturday and Sunday and to buy tickets to the event, click here
Golf Sixes: The format
A team-focused two-man greensomes knock-out will be spread over two days, and will see the 16 different nations compete in a format mirroring the UEFA Champions League.
On the first day of play the teams will be split into four pools of four, with the top two teams from each group progressing to the quarter-finals.
Each team will play their three pool matches on Saturday, while the quarter-final, semi-final and final will be played on Sunday May 7.
Matches are played over six holes, with one point being awarded for each hole won. The winner of each match will be the team with the most points at the end of the round. Similar to football, three points will be awarded for a win, one for a draw and nothing for a loss.
In the event of a tie in the group table, each team’s total points differential from the three matches (equivalent to goal difference), will be used to decide who progresses. If this is inconclusive, a play-off will be used.
As many of the six holes are played as is needed to determine a winner, if this is inconclusive a continued play-off on a shortened hole will be used until a winner is decided.
Golf Sixes: The Course Layout
Hole 1: It’s all about the show on the first, as players will walk out to music and pyrotechnics while fans are gathered in grandstand seating and large screens can be watched at both tee and green.
Hole 2: The second hole is host to a charitable initiative, with donations to charity and giveaways to the crowd when birdies are carded by the players.
Hole 3: A long drive competition will be competed for on hole three, and a leaderboard will rank the players throughout both day’s play – giving them extra incentive to stay on the fairway
Hole 4: Everyone complains about slow play, but here it will cost the golfers shots. A shot clock will be displayed on the tee, fairway and green and will count down from 40 seconds from each shot. For anyone who goes over time, there will be a stroke penalty added to their team’s score for that hole.
Hole 5: There may be a Jamesons Irish Whisky Bar on the fifth hole, but its not the only attraction. It’s all about getting closest to the pin for the professionals on hole 5!
Hole 6: Post-match interviews, a special tee for any Sunday play-offs and a trophy presentation taking place on the balcony overlooking the green – the sixth hole is one of the best viewing platforms on the entire course.
Golf Sixes: It's not just about the golf
Spectators will be able to watch the action from amphitheatre-style stands, as music and pyrotechnics accompany the spectacle.
There will also be a fanzone, which will include player Q&A sessions, event merchandise, American Golf activity and food options to suit all of the competing nations.
The European Tour will offer fans an “access all areas” fan experience, with spectators being closer to the sport than ever before.
Golf Sixes: The celebrities involved
Television host Vernon Kay will host the tournament, interacting with players and celebrity fans as he presents the action across the two days.
Kay said: “I’m a huge golf fan, and avid participant, so I’m excited to be involved,
“I love the traditional format of golf- and I’m always trying to bring the handicap down- but this event is fresh and energetic, and I hope we will be able to entertain existing fans as well as attracting new people to the sport”.
The events will be commentated and analysed by cricket legend Kevin Pietersen MBE and actor, singer and presenter Denise van Outen.
The weekend will kick off on the Friday, with six celebrities playing in tandem with GolfSixes professionals to battle it out on the six-hole circuit in the Pro-Am.
Kay will be joined by celebrity competitors in the form of hard-man actor Vinne Jones, England cricketer Darren Gough, former England and Scotland rugby captains Mike Tindall MBE and Rory Lawson and horse racing icon Sir AP McCoy.
Golf Sixes: What the golfers have been saying
Chris Wood is confident of success at the first ever GolfSixes tournament he said: “Sully (Andy Sullivan) and I are good mates and I think we make a good team. We’ve both had amazing experiences in the past representing Europe at The Ryder Cup, and England at the World Cup of Golf.”
He continues: “It’s a fresh, new format and I think it’s welcome in golf right now.”
Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen is no stranger to international success, winning the World Cup of Golf title for his country in November last year. Olesen believes there’s something special about team golf. He said: “There aren’t too many opportunities to play team golf, and it definitely adds an extra edge when you are representing your country.
He added: “It was a proud moment to lift the trophy, and I would love to make it two in a row for Denmark.
“GolfSixes is a really interesting concept and I’m looking forward to being involved in the first ever edition of the tournament. I think it’s important to try out new things, and hopefully it captures the imagination of fans too. Lucas and I will be hoping to see some Danes amongst the crowd!”
For tickets to the event visit www.golfsixes.com/tickets