Sport Golf

Saturday 17 March 2018

GolfSixes innovations at heart of the game's future

Thomas Bjorn. Photo: PA
Thomas Bjorn. Photo: PA

Brian Keogh

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew will join forces when the innovative GolfSixes returns to the European Tour in May.

The announcement coincided with the R&A's publication of a report yesterday insisting that a significant growth opportunity exists for golf if it can attract more women, girls and families.

Commission by the R&A and produced by the International Institute for Golf Education at the University Centre Myerscough, the report underlines "the importance of establishing the optimum environment for family participation by being aware of the make-up of the modern family."

While there are, as yet, no junior members of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews - which was one of golf's governing bodies before the formation of The R&A in 2004 - the report points out that "parents are the chief factor underpinning families' likelihood to play golf" with women a major part of that decision-making process.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A, said: "The research demonstrates there is a tremendous opportunity for golf to grow its participation numbers and generate more income if it can attract more women, girls and families into playing the sport."

The news that captains Bjorn and Matthew will play together in the European Tour's €1m GolfSixes event at the Centurion Club in St Albans from May 5-6 can only help.

The 'Captains Team' is one of four wild-card selections introduced this year alongside an 'England Women's Team' comprising Georgia Hall and Charley Hull and a 'European Women's Team' featuring England's Mel Reid and Suzann Pettersen of Norway.

Defending champions Denmark, who will be represented again by Lucas Bjerregaard and Thorbjorn Olesen, will be joined by a final wild card team, which will be revealed early next month and 11 men's national teams.

The 16 teams will be divided into four groups of four with the top two from each group progressing to the knockout stages.

Fan Zone entertainment, amphitheatre-style stands around tees and greens, music and pyrotechnics on the first tee and player engagement across the course will also bring fans closer to the action.

Irish Independent

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