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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What I Like About GolfSixes

Commentators have mixed opinions about the ET's GolfSixes tournament, but I like it. So before we move on to THE PLAYERS, I thought I'd take a post to share my feelings about the format.

Moynihan and Dunne with GolfSixes trophy

I think almost everybody likes the team match play aspect of the event, which is something we don't get to see very often in pro golf. And there's something to be said for the overall shortness of the event itself, just two days. It's an event with a hidden benefit. It's a good way for busy pros to squeeze in a bit of off-time during a crowded schedule, since you have two more free days leading into the event.

This also works well for fans. The shortness of the event means fans can see more of the event in less time -- more like a football or baseball game -- while the shortness of the individual matches means the action is fast and furious, more like a basketball game. The less formal atmosphere certainly seems to attract families with young kids, Need I expound the virtues of that?

And ironically, the fact that players are eliminated from competition more frequently actually plays into this as well. Once players are eliminated, they have more time to mingle with the fans -- and because they play fewer holes overall, they aren't as tired, making this part of the job less draining for them. Having this sort of event every so often could be a great way to build the fanbase.

The biggest argument against GolfSixes has been the extreme shortness of the matches -- a mere six holes, from which the tournament gets its name. With each match taking only six holes, the entire pool play portion of the event can be finished in one day, and even the players who advance to Day 2 have only played 18 holes. The argument? That the matches are too short to give everyone a fair chance. After all, if you fall two down, it's going to be mighty hard to come back!

But the event has made two changes to pool play as you would see it in the WGC Match Play.
  • First, two teams advance from the four-team pool play.
  • Second, even when a team has won their match, all six holes are played and each team is credited with the number of holes they won.
As a result of these two changes, some of the randomness is minimized. Since two teams from each four advance, everybody has a better chance. And since ties are broken by the total number of holes each team won, even a lost match can help you qualify for Day 2 -- if you played well enough to have a close match, that works in your favor even if you lost.

This second playing of GolfSixes also demonstrated its flexibility. As the tours search for a way to integrate the male and female tours in a single event, GolfSixes showed itself to be an ideal venue for that. And the less formal nature of it all makes it easier for the players to mingle and perhaps find mutual ways to work together. After all, many of these players run individual charity events and help each other with them; this would be a great chance to broaden those networks!

Finally, although no one has said anything about it yet, I can see how GolfSixes could be expanded into a larger event. The current two-day event handles 16 teams, with eight eliminated after Day 1 and the other eight playing for the trophy on Day 2. Using the same format as Day 1, you could expand this to a three-day event with 32 teams cutting to 16 on Day 1, 16 to eight on Day 2, and the finals on Day 3. That's 64 total players, just as in the WGC Match Play, and everyone could make a payday as they do in that event. (This page at gives the WGC percentages.)

For a small event like this, the money wouldn't be nearly as much, but for a three-day event during a crowded schedule -- or perhaps an off-season event held at some place like Disneyworld -- I suspect it would be attractive enough.

I don't know that GolfSixes will ever become a popular format, but I see possibilities that I like. And as golf searches for new ways to attract fans, I think it has a place.

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