There was no “joy of six” for Scotland in the end in the European Tour’s innovative format – Denmark claimed victory to add to a World Cup triumph last year – but Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren shrugged aside that disappointment to heap praise on the new GolfSixes at the Centurion Club in St Albans.
Having played brilliant golf in their opening four matches, including starting with four 3s in a 3-0 win over Portugal in the quarter-finals, the Scots went off the boil at an inopportune time as they then lost 2-1 to Australia in the semi-finals of an event that set out aiming to revolutionise the Royal & Ancient game.
As the last home country standing following the exit of hosts and top seeds England earlier in the day, it was still a praiseworthy effort from Ramsay and Warren, but, at the same time, there was no disguising a feeling of disappointment at missing out on a golden chance to become its first winners.
“We were really good in some of the earlier rounds and, if we had half of that, we would have been in cruise control,” said Ramsay as he reflected on the Scots taking 16 shots – four more than in the morning – for the first four holes, failing to register anything better than a par in the six holes and conceding the last after being in the water.
Unfortunately, that was easily the worst hole they’d played over the entire weekend under the Greensomes format. Warren, who had driven the ball superbly until then, pulled this particular tee shot out of bounds into the fan zone. The same player then came off a 3-wood for their second as it ended up in the water. The finish definitely left Warren kicking himself a bit and Ramsay felt likewise after he’d been unable to convert decent birdie chances at both the third and fourth. “It was there for us to win,” declared Warren. Had it been down to feeling extra pressure as the event reached the business end? No, according to Ramsay. “We’re both good pressure players,” he said. “We just didn’t play that great. We played OK but when you play OK you’ll probably lose. In six holes you need to hole something and I didn’t.”
While it wasn’t exactly helpful that England went out when they did, all in all the inaugural event was a success. It was a boost that the sun finally came out at the Hertfordshire venue, allowing the fans – the attendance was a decent 9,000 for two days – to enjoy themselves a bit more after those in attendance on Saturday had been frozen to the bone. As for the players, they loved concepts such as walk-on music, a shot clock and being cheered on to tees and greens by fans either waving giant foam fingers in the air or hammering thunder clappers.
“It’s been really good,” said Ramsay after the Scots went on to finish third, beating Italy in a nearest-the-pin play-off. “It’s like everything. We need a bit of traction. We’ll go away and tell people what it was like. We take this first concept and refine it so it becomes really, really attractive for folk coming in.”
According to Warren, whatever tweaks might be made if this format becomes a regular part of golf’s schedules don’t need to include looking at extending it to, say, nine holes. “It’s Sixes,” he said. “It’s instant results and that’s the whole point. That’s what we want. Making it longer would take it back into normal golf territory and that’s not the point. It’s been brilliant. Everyone has got involved and got into the spirit.”
Whether it’s six holes or 18, no-one does it better in team golf than the Danes. Represented by Lucas Bjerregard and Thorbjorn Olesen, they claimed the funky GolfSixes trophy by coming from behind to beat Australia 3-1 in the final. The victory came around six months after Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen had also lifted the World Cup.