GolfSixes, the European Tour’s short-format event, is returning this year to the Centurion Club near St Albans after the inaugural staging at the Hertfordshire venue attracted more than 40 per cent more golf fans than standard tournaments on the circuit.
Won in 2017 by Danish duo Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjørn Olesen, the event will be held on 5-6 May as the centrepiece of a “festival of golf” that is aimed at encouraging even more fan engagement, as well as featuring a junior tournament.
GolfSixes was trialled by European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in response to growing demand for shorter, more intensive competition and data from the inaugural event shows that it saw a 42 per cent increase in new golf fans at the event compared to standard European Tour tournaments.
At an event where music and pyrotechnics helped create a much different atmosphere to a normal golf tournament, 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 more than 20 million social impressions.
“GolfSixes combines the camaraderie and intrigue of team golf with the drama and intensity of a shorter format,” said Nathan Homer, chief commercial & marketing officer of the European Tour.
“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.”
The European Tour has also committed to running a special showcase event during this year’s Ryder Cup in Paris in order to bring the GolfSixes concept to a global audience.
“The Ryder Cup transcends all sport and is one of the most prestigious sporting events on the planet,” added Homer. “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.
“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.”
Represented by Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren, Scotland finished third in last year’s event after topping a strong group then beating Italy in a nearest-the-pin contest.