Innovative GolfSixes to Bring Together Male and Female Golfers
GolfSixes was a popular introduction onto the European Tour last year, but that innovation has taken an exciting and inclusive step further with the announcement that male and female professionals will be brought together in a competitive environment for when the event returns to Centurion Club in St. Albans in May.
Perhaps most notably, Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will be playing in a team alongside his Solheim Cup equivalent Catriona Matthew. The 'Captains Team' is just one of four additional wild card pairs brought into the tournament, with an 'England Women's Team' of Georgia Hall and Charley Hull joining a 'European Women's Team' of England's Mel Reid and Norway's major champion Suzann Pettersen. There will be a fourth wild card to be unveiled in the coming weeks, completing the field of national teams looking to take the title from Denmark's reigning champions, Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjorn Olesen.
Thomas Bjorn said on the European Tour Website: “I am really excited about playing GolfSixes. There are so many 72-hole tournaments around the world that there has to be room for something else which puts a different spin on golf and brings more interest.
“This is not your normal golf tournament where everyone is very serious and has their heads down. This is completely different, it’s more about having fun and portraying the game in a good way.
“I think it’s hugely important to also try and break down the barriers that have existed in golf between the men’s and women’s games. When this opportunity arose to play as Ryder Cup Captain, I thought it was only right to speak to Catriona as the Solheim Cup Captain about forming a team, and we’re both really looking forward to it.
“It also sends the right message to our players too, that we’re European Captains and being a European Captain of any team is not just about your own Tour and your own players – it’s about representing everything about this great continent of ours.”
Catriona Matthew added: “I was delighted when Thomas asked me to play GolfSixes. I had to move my schedule around a little bit but the moment I heard about the chance to play, I definitely wanted to be part of it.
“The fact it is something different for golf is great – in terms of the round robin match play format then head to head matches, in addition to the men and women playing together of course. All Tours are trying to think of ways to make golf different and encourage a new and younger audience and so I think this whole concept is very exciting.
“I was playing in a tournament last year but I watched some of the inaugural GolfSixes on the television and read a bit about it and I always thought it was a good idea. Obviously, the matches are much quicker and match play itself tends to be exciting so it’s a good mix.”
Emerging star, Georgia Hall commented: “It sounds like a great event and it will be nice to play in a team event and also to play with Charley again – I think we will have a good chance. I watched it on TV last year and it looked like a lot of fun so it’s great that we will be part of it this year.”
Popular Solheim Cup player Charley Hull said: “I think an event like GolfSixes is good for the game of golf. I’m looking forward to teaming up with Georgia and seeing us play against the men will be exciting and something new for the spectators. Hopefully it will be a lot of fun for them to watch.”
Lucas Bjerregaard said: “Thorbjorn and I are very much looking forward to going back to the Centurion Club to defend our title. We had a blast last year, as most people did who attended the event either as players or fans, so I’m looking forward to getting back there.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many kids at a golf tournament in my life which is great for the game. In addition to that, they were having a great time, running around and not being told to be quiet all the time which is exactly what we need to get more young people involved in our sport.”
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “GolfSixes is something that we championed last year to do something a little different, not just in terms of a different format, but also to bring a different form of entertainment from a golf perspective.
“There was a lot of talk about what we were going to do differently this year while remaining credible but entertaining, and today’s announcement is the result of those discussions. It’s a natural progression and I think the potential for GolfSixes in terms of the overall brand and format is terrific.
“The concept of Thomas and Catriona playing together is a wonderful idea and then to be able to add in four of Europe’s leading women players in Georgia, Charley, Mel and Suzann is fantastic and will make for a great event. We thank both the LET and the LPGA for helping make this happen.”
Last year's event was a success with spectators and television viewers alike, as the unique Greensomes and Group Stage format proved popular with an established audience, in addition to newcomers, generating a 42% increase in new golf fans, when compared to other European Tour tournaments. Social media engagement was also significantly higher than normal, serving as a testament to the forumla, something that we can expect to be only greater this May thanks to this innovative and inclusive move.
Early Bird tickets for GolfSixes 2018, priced at just £10 for adults and £4 for children - with under 10s gaining free admission - are available http://et.golf/GolfSixesTickets until 23.59 on Wednesday March 21. After that, tickets are priced at £16 for adults and £6 for children.
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Tags: european tour