European Tour gives tournament a T20-style makeover

Andy Sullivan laugh during a practice session ahead of the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, USA. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 29, 2016. See PA story GOLF Ryder. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
Andy Sullivan laugh during a practice session ahead of the 41st Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, USA. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday September 29, 2016. See PA story GOLF Ryder. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
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Richie Ramsay believes golf’s governing bodies have been “sleeping at the wheel” as the sport’s search for its version of Twenty20 cricket begins in earnest.

This weekend’s inaugural GolfSixes will feature 16 two-man teams, each representing their country, competing over six holes in a greensomes match-play format, where the teams select their best tee shot and then play alternate shots thereafter.

The teams have been split into four groups of four, with the top two from each advancing to Sunday’s knockout stages, when the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will all be played.

Each of the six holes has its own theme, including a long-drive contest, nearest the pin and a shot clock, where players will be penalised a shot for exceeding a 40-second time limit.

The European Tour has put up the prize fund of 1million euros (£850,000) and chief executive Keith Pelley admits the event is an experiment, one which Ramsay feels is overdue.

“It’s different. It’s been a long time in coming,” said Ramsay, who will represent Scotland alongside former World Cup winner Marc Warren.

“I’m not going to turn round and say GolfSixes is the answer to solving golf’s problems, but it’s a step in the right direction. There’s action being taken.

“I don’t know how blunt I can be but I think there’s been a lot of people sleeping at the wheel. A lot of different bodies have not been doing anything on this. They go on about, ‘This is a problem and that is a problem’, but you have to take action.

“Last week they had the Zurich (Classic of New Orleans) which was maybe the first time I’ve seen the PGA Tour copy the European Tour – that validates what we are doing. Hopefully we can take the good things from this and make it work.”

Chris Wood, who will represent England alongside Ryder Cup team-mate Andy Sullivan, has made it clear he is not a fan of some of the innovations on show at the Centurion Club, especially the fireworks and music as the teams are introduced on the first tee.

But the 29-year-old from Bristol added: “Any time the Tour are willing to make some changes and try something different I’m willing to support it.

“It’s always going to bring up a few things that, once we’ve got through it, some players might not like it, people watching might not like it, but there’ll be some good stuff as well.

“Hopefully the six-hole format will work because everything is so instant these days and golf is one of the few things that isn’t.”