European Tour’s GolfSixes: Day one impressions

Apr 7, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Andy Sullivan hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 7, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Andy Sullivan hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

The European Tour’s new GolfSixes event had a lot of hoopla leading in. Did it live up to the hype?

The European Tour’s sparkly new GolfSixes first day of competition is in the books. From Centurion Golf Club in St. Alban’s, England, we saw some dance moves, pyrotechnics, photobombs and overall raucousness. It was like a night club on a golf course.

Typically, a golf tournament is dominated by the big names at the top. The script is flipped this week as the results at GolfSixes seem almost secondary.

What everyone tuned in to see was the entire spectacle of it all.

The First Tee

Each two-man team representing their country was introduced with a WWE-like introduction with pyrotechnics, an excitable announcer and cheering fans.

It’s a little unnatural for these guys to walk out to such rowdiness more accustomed to football or basketball, but all involved seem to have fun with it. It’s like a Ryder Cup first tee mixed with the 16th in Scottsdale. Could you imagine Patrick Reed walking out to the first with a USA foam finger before dismantling his opponent 5&4? It’d be a sight to see.

Shot Clock

At GolfSixes, there’s no time to dawdle around once the rubber hits the road, though. Pace of play is back in the spotlight as a hot button issue in golf and it’s addressed overtly here.

Each team has 40 seconds to hit in the greensomes alternate shot format. Andy Sullivan got an assist from the gallery to help him pipe a tee shot just in the nick of time on home hole.

USA’s Paul Peterson couldn’t strike his approach shot in time and was hit with a one-stroke penalty under the watchful eye of Scotland’s Bradley Dredge.

Silliness of the weekend aside, a walking official or volunteer armed with a shot clock for traditional stroke play events seems like a Godsend. Whether it’s 40 seconds, a minute, or whatever, the shot clock in play this weekend seems to be one of the more replicable aspects of GolfSixes.


If I were guaranteed a pay check to play golf, interact with fans and not have to hit every shot during the round, I’d have a smile on my face, too. Cynicism aside, just about all of 32 players in the field seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The European Tour advised its players to interact with fans, but no one could’ve scripted Alexander Lévy’s dance moves.

There was a lot to keep the youngsters happy in an environment tailor-made for them. It’s safe to say there were no marshals here shushing unruly kids with the swiftness.

When the roaming pink “6” mascot wasn’t best putting smiles on young fans’ faces, he was casually doling out chest bumps on No. 1 tee.

The number six hasn’t become so popular since Drake started shouting it out in his songs.

Also roaming the grounds were mobile cameras of all shapes and sizes. Players, caddies, workers and just about anyone else eager to document the action was armed with a camera.

Some were on little carts that could reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour. Jamie Donaldson was left in the dust trying to catch up.

Chronicling the golf tournament from all vantage points seems like another innovation with some staying power. FOX has dabbled with alternative cameras at the US Open and some of its other televised events. Sticking a small camera on, say, a caddy, or having these mini carts roll around can only add to the broadcast if done well.

The Action

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The competition itself was pretty even as no team went unbeaten in the pool play round that featured three six-hole matches.

Team France (Lévy and Grégory Bourdy) and team Thailand (Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Thongchai Jaidee) lead the eight teams that advanced with seven points each.

Three points were awarded for a match win, one for a draw and zero for a loss.

Also moving on are pool winners Portugal and the pre-tournament favorites England featuring Ryder Cup members Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood.

The quarterfinal matches for Sunday are:

  • England vs. Italy (Matteo Manassero and Renato Peratore)
  • Denmark (Thorbjørn Olesen and Lucas Bjerregard) vs. France
  • Thailand vs. Australia (Sam Brazel and Scott Hend)
  • Scotland (Bradley Dredge and Jamie Donaldson) vs. Portugal (Ricardo Gouveia and Jose Filipe-Lima

Some pros not in the event expressed their admiration of the festivities that brought color to a cool, dreary day in England.

“I felt there was a little bit of a buzz out there,” said Andy Sullivan in an Associated Press report. “I think it’s a great way to bring a more fun element to golf.”

Next: Lorena Ochoa Match Play: Who's In, Who's Out

If day one of GolfSixes piqued your interest, Golf Channel has a big coverage window in the States slotted for 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT.