The launch of the World Super 6 Perth tournament this summer seems innovative on the surface but in reality is a recipe that’s already been tried – and failed. Why not spice things up further?
Congratulations are, however, in order for the PGA Tour of Australasia and the European Tour for keeping alive a concept many suspected was lost: an international golf tournament in Perth.
The launch of the World Super 6 Perth, where the field will play a regular strokeplay tournament for three days then revert to six-hole matches on Sunday, appears both fresh and innovative. But that’s a pretty specious assessment.
Here’s the real appraisal: we’ve been down this road before, and it didn’t work.
Who remembers the Surf Coast Knockout? Not many would. Held on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula in January 2011, it utilised the exact same format and was staged once and once only. It was innovative, yes. Entertaining? To a degree. Unpredictable? Most definitely, especially when you consider the last matchplay qualifier that weekend, Scott Laycock, won the tournament.
But did it work? No. The mix was right – a decent golf course (The Sands Torquay) in a holiday environment at a peak time of year. There was even live music on-site after each day’s play, tempting people to stick around once the last putt had dropped. Yet the tournament never returned.
Maybe this time will be different. The backing of the European Tour helps, presumably adding star power to the field in a decent slot within the early-year portion of the schedule.
“Cricket has Twenty20, netball has Fast5, rugby union has Rugby7s and now golf has the World Super 6 Perth.” - PGA of Australia CEO Brian Thorburn.
Those factors work for the World Super 6 Perth, but too many do not.
Golf administrators historically don’t dive into the deep end; instead they prefer to dip a single toe in the shallow end to test the temperature. They’re so cautious they probably never even take on a daring carry when they play. Here’s an instance when they should have busted out the 3-wood and taken the risky play over the water to try to reach the green.
The ‘sell’ is the World Super 6 Perth will be golf’s answer to Twenty20 cricket or rugby 7s, but that’s not the case. Adopting the shootout format didn’t go far enough. Let’s face it, for three days the tournament will look and feel like the Perth International: 54 holes of strokeplay. Only late on Saturday will it change complexion.
Under the format, it will be possible to win by just sneaking in the cutline. We also won’t have players battling to take the lead on Thursday and Friday; instead they’ll be trying to not miss the cut. It’ll be like watching the first 30 kilometres of a marathon – no need to lead, just don’t slip too far behind.
“This is an exciting day for international golf as we launch the World Super 6 Perth; a golf tournament which is set to change the way people view golf,” spruiked Brian Thorburn, chief executive of the PGA of Australia and PGA Tour of Australasia, at the launch. “Cricket has Twenty20, netball has Fast5, rugby union has Rugby7s and now golf has the World Super 6 Perth.”
They’re bad comparisons. Those sports adapted their formats for the entire game, not merely one quarter of it.
But we shouldn’t pan without offering potential solutions:
- The shootout format is a good start, but why not extend the idea to the entire tournament and create a format that innovates for four days and not just one?
- The World Super 6 Perth sounds like a great time and place to introduce a shot clock for golf, something to finally get those snails on Tour moving – and the galleries would love it.
- Make the matchplay seedings mean something by letting the higher-ranked players choose who they play against rather than have the numerics feed opponents to them.
- “This type of competition will appeal to all golfers, but especially to a younger demographic, and will encourage competitors to play aggressive and attacking golf,” says West Australian Premier and Tourism Minister Colin Barnett. If a younger demographic is the aim, take the notion a step further and let some of the best juniors from WA and across Australia actually play in the field. At very least, let the state’s best junior take on the champion in a further six-hole shootout match held straight afterwards.
- And shorts for players are a must, just as they were encouraged at the Surf Coast event.
Tournaments in Australia are dwindling and outside the national Open and PGA there is space to innovate – let’s just do it properly. After all, if you’re skating on thin ice, you might as well tap dance.