European Tour golfers on course to return to Hertfordshire for innovative tournament

Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen of Denmark pose with the trophy after winning the final match

Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen of Denmark pose with the trophy after winning the final match between Denmark and Australia during day two of GolfSixes at The Centurion Club on May 7, 2017 in St Albans, England. [Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Image]. - Credit: Getty Images

An innovative team golf competition will return to Hertfordshire this year.

Having put on a successful inaugural GolfSixes event last season, European Tour organisers have confirmed that the tournament will return to the prestigious Centurion Club near St Albans in May.

Scott Evans, managing director at Centurion Club, said: “We’re hugely excited to be part of this innovation in the game, helping to influence and shape the future of golf.

“As the venue last year we received terrific feedback from spectators and players alike, so building on this success is incredibly important to us.

“From our golf course to the facilities on offer, we’re committed to being the perfect stage for this revolutionary golf concept.”

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GolfSixes is a short-format golf concept, played over six holes, in national teams of two.

It replicates other successful short-form sport concepts such as the T-20 Big Bash, World Rugby Sevens Series, Nitro Athletics and Tie Break Tens.

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Last year’s event attracted younger, new fans to the game while delivering impressive social media engagement, according to new analysis by the European Tour.

Nathan Homer, chief commercial and marketing officer of the European Tour, said: “GolfSixes combines the camaraderie and intrigue of team golf with the drama and intensity of a shorter format.

“The players love it, and the fans enjoy the different, more entertaining atmosphere.

“Last year we tested the concept and this year we will dial-up the fan engagement still further.

“Golf needs a route for younger fans, groups of adults and families to get involved.

“We know that GolfSixes appeals to those audiences while still offering something to our die-hard fans.

“We have to keep innovating in order to grow our appeal and the statistics suggest GolfSixes can have a powerful presence in the golfing calendar.”

Data from the first GolfSixes competition last year shows that it saw a 42 per cent increase in new golf fans at the event compared to standard European Tour tournaments.

Those attendees were also 14 per cent younger than those seen during the rest of the golfing calendar.

By virtue of attracting a younger following, social media engagement around the event also exceeded the average rate seen at other European Tour tournaments by 24 per cent, delivering over 20 million social impressions.

In response to the positive findings, GolfSixes will return to the European Tour calendar on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6 as an inclusive ‘festival of golf’ that encourages even more fan engagement, as well as featuring a junior tournament.

The European Tour has also committed to running a special showcase event during the 2018 Ryder Cup in Paris in order to bring the GolfSixes concept to a global audience.

Nathan Homer added: “The Ryder Cup transcends all sport and is one of the most prestigious sporting events on the planet.

“It is the perfect platform to introduce a wide cross-section of sports fans to GolfSixes.

“Setting aside time in The Ryder Cup schedule for it demonstrates our commitment to the concept and our firm belief it has long-term potential.”

The GolfSixes Festival will be played on May 5-6 at the Centurion Club, outside St Albans on the Hemel Hempstead Road, with the professional tournament featuring 16 nations playing in pairs.

The event will see the return of the hugely successful shot clock and a fan zone in the middle of the tournament course, as well as a junior event.

It will also offer the opportunity for amateurs to compete alongside the professionals over the weekend.

Nathan Homer added: “GolfSixes is still in the early stages of its development but the combination of player feedback and tournament data suggests it is here to stay.

“Innovation is vital for golf to continue to grow its fan base and we look forward to seeing how the next iteration of GolfSixes will support that goal.”

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