European Tour: Why the Belgian Knockout, GolfSixes are great for golf

The GOlfSixes tournament brings something different to the European Tour, from DJs playing music, to allowing players to wear shorts for the first time
The GOlfSixes tournament brings something different to the European Tour, from DJs playing music, to allowing players to wear shorts for the first time /

The European Tour is doing great things to grow the game of golf, and two premier events – the Belgian Knockout and GolfSixes – are leading the way.

With the Belgian Knockout (BKO) and the GolfSixes tournaments following each other, the European Tour has reached its ‘fun’ section.

Last week saw the Belgian Knockout take place, an event that differs from pretty much any other in the world of golf, as it is part stroke play, part match play.

Thursday and Friday featured stroke play golf, with 18 holes being played on both days to determine to top 64 players who will qualify for the weekend’s action.

From there, though, it was all change, as the format switched to match play for the weekend’s action, with those 64 players battling it out in a straight knock-out competition.

This meant that the two finalists would have to play six 9-hole matches over the course of Saturday and Sunday, with three on each day.

Saturday saw the rounds of 64, 32 and 16, with Sunday holding the quarter finals, semi finals, third/fourth place play off, and the all-important final to determine the winner of the Belgian Knockout 2019.

Belgian Knockout GolfSixes European Tour
ANTWERPEN, BELGIUM – JUNE 02: Guido Migliozzi of Italy poses with the trophy after winning the Belgian Knockout at Rinkven International GC on June 02, 2019 in Antwerpen, Belgium. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

However, this wasn’t your normal match play weekend either. The matches were played on stroke play rules, meaning that you could win a hole and gain a three shot advantage (if you were to birdie, and your opponent scored a double).

It might be slightly confusing to start with, but to watch, it was exciting, as different matches were changing throughout Saturday, with two and three-shot swings everywhere you looked.

This is great for the game of golf, as a survey undertaken as recently as 2018 showed that 70% of British people believe that golf is the most boring sport you can watch on TV.

For years, golf has had the perception of being an old man’s game, especially at amateur and local level, as the only people that have enough time to play golf regularly are those that tend to be retired.

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Now though, with this new type of competition, and a shorter attention span required for just 9 holes, could it bring the younger generation in to the game?

Add the BKO to the GolfSixes that takes place this weekend in Portugal, and we are in clearly in the ‘fun zone’ on the European Tour that takes place every year.

The GolfSixes is the most unorthodox tournament when it comes to the actual event, with shorts allowed for the first time on Tour, and it will be the first event to allow the players to use distance measuring laser devices, a tool used by many club players.

The GolfSixes tournament is a two day competition, with matches held over six holes. Teams of two played against each other to win matches in a four-team round-robin group stage on the Friday.

The quarters, semis and final then took place on the Saturday. It could essentially be classed as a mini-European Cup, with countries represented by a playing duo.

The tournament will also see two teams of women taking part, as both England and Germany have a female duo in the tournament, bringing the men’s and women’s games together.

Add to that the big crowds and the live DJ playing music constantly, while drones fly overhead to capture all the action, and you have another event to draw people in to the wonderful sport of golf.

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Putting these two tournaments back-to-back can only help the European Tour, and golf in general, as it can only keep inspiring the next generation of young stars into the game.