An innovative six-hole tournament is to be launched at Belmont Hills Golf Club in an effort to widen the game’s appeal and help reverse a decline in participation on the island.
The Bermuda Golf Association is hoping the Corona Golf Super6 tournament will also spark interest in the sport among those not classed as traditional fans.
Craig Brown, the BGA president, said the event is in line with shifting patterns towards shorter and more dynamic sporting formats such as Twenty20 cricket, rugby sevens, and super-sprint team triathlons.
Players of varying levels can sign up for the tournament, which will involve teams of four competing for points every Thursday from May 17 for six weeks in a relaxed and fun environment. There will be a week off on May 24 because of Bermuda Day.
“The BGA has been keeping abreast of global patterns in the game,” Brown said. “Globally, the golf landscape is changing, and Bermuda is no different. The number of rounds played per year are decreasing, our membership numbers are reducing and golfers are finding less available time to enjoy a traditional full round of 18 holes.”
Brown believes the event, a dramatic break from tradition in local golf, will attract social golfers, with players being encouraged to wear team shirts or football jerseys. The maximum gross handicap will be 24 for men and 30 for women.
“The inaugural Corona Golf Super6 is open to all golf clubs, community clubs, sports clubs, corporate companies and groups of friends,” Brown said.
“We want to encourage people to come together, have fun and enjoy golf in a fun, alternative format.
“It is our intention, the Corona Golf Super6 will appeal to a large cross-section of our community and bring some fun activity to the local golf scene.”
Six-hole golf has been elbowing its way into the mainstream, with Ireland winning the second edition of the European Tour’s GolfSixes at the Centurion Club in St Albans, England, last weekend.
Another sign of golf’s attempt to modernise came at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last month, which included a two-man format for the second successive year.
“On both sides of the Atlantic, over the last few weeks, we saw both of the two major golf tours hosting new formats of the game,” Brown added.
“The Golf Sixes in Europe and the two-man team event at the PGA Tour stop in New Orleans were introduced last season, both designed to inject fun and engage with a younger audience.”
The BGA intended to launch the competition, which will feature modified Stableford scoring, a 75 per cent handicap adjustment, and a shot clock, last summer but delayed plans as the island’s focus was on the 35th America’s Cup on the Great Sound.
Brown emphasised that the BGA remained committed to protecting the traditional 18-hole format and will continue rolling out its full calendar of major amateur championships.
“While we fully understand purists of the game may have a different outlook with a new format, we feel in order to grow, we need to adapt,” said Brown, who added that additional points will be awarded to teams including female players.
“The BGA still offer a full, traditional golf calendar, hosting the major amateur championships, and our monthly medals throughout the island.”
The team entry fee is $1,200 for six registered players, including 36 holes, green fees and a cart. Any four of the six registered players can represent the team.
Special guests, including visitors to the island, can play for a team and register on the day of play for $100.
All proceeds will go towards the Bermuda Golf Foundation in aid of the BGF Golf in Schools and Young Pro Programmes. The event is sponsored by Corona Extra, Premier Tix, Belmont Hills, Divots and APEX Physio.
To register visit www.ptix.bm/golfsuper6