Date: July 26, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes (Twitter: @Hayesy24)

Six-hole golf on European Tour cards

European Tour boss Keith Pelley has flagged a radical change in the way we watch – and play – golf.

Pelley, less than a year into his role as chief executive, signalled the Tour’s desire to play six-hole events in its 2018 schedule.

The Canadian has consistently mooted plans to embrace new formats and change to modernise golf, with players wearing shorts in pro-ams and introducing measures to speed up play.

And he says short-form golf will open up a whole new market.

“Golf has to be a little more open to letting the youth actually participate," Pelley told BBC Radio this week. “There's no question that is something we believe in as well.

“You look at some of the new formats that have been created — when you look at adventure golf, or the brand Top Golf … it's really geared towards millennials, so the way that people are participating in the game is completely different.

“Let's be honest — and scientific data proves this — attention spans are decreasing as opposed to increasing and it's completely different when the choice people have to consume content now is so different than it was 35-40 years ago.

“So you have to change, people's time is so precious that golf – I think every golf course being built needs to be six holes, six holes, six holes – so that people can go at the beginning before they go to work.”

Pelley said the success of Twenty20 in boosting attendances as a reason for change with TV audiences flocking to short-form cricket.

“From our perspective … we are looking to create a format that would be six holes.

“That could be an hour, an hour-and-a-half content program which would be very entertaining.

“Our leaderboard is always filled with a bunch of different flags and it would probably be a country competition, so you could probably see England playing Scotland in six-hole match play with time clocks and music and so forth going on and it would be an aspirational goal to be even remotely as successful as Twenty20 cricket.

“But If you're not prepared to change, if you're not prepared to be innovative, if you're not prepared to take chances, then I do believe that the sports that aren't will fall behind.

“We'd like to experiment … in 2017 and maybe roll it out in 2018. It's still in the infancy stages of being developed.

“The tradition, the integrity of the game, the 72-hole tournament will always be there in some form. But if you catapult ahead 10 or 15 years, the game of golf will be consumed completely differently and there will be different formats that will be successful as content entertainment makers.”

Pelley didn’t rule out changing the European Tour’s name to reflect its increasingly global nature.

Europe and the Asian Tour recently announced a strategic partnership and with just 19 of the 50 2016 European Tour events staged in Europe, Pelley is open to rebranding.

“You can't play 47 weeks in Europe, hence the reason that we started to move all around the world and since then we've expanded and as early as this week we've announced a strategic alliance with the Asian Tour, so our position in Asia is going to grow: we've opened an office recently in Korea.”