“Gone are the days that you could spend five or six hours on a golf course,” Rory McIlroy, one of the world’s best golfers, once said when talking of the lack of new blood at the sport’s grassroots. “Everything’s so instant now, and everyone doesn’t have as much time as they used to.”
So how to make golf more exciting? In a new format called SPRINT6GOLF, players only have 30 seconds to execute shots over six holes, rather than the traditional 18 holes. Those who take longer end up with a yellow card, with repeat offenses resulting in a one one-shot penalty.
SPRINT6GOLF can already count Gareth Bale, the Real Madrid soccer player, as a fan—and a backer. Bale has invested in the game and is in the promotional video.
“The idea is to speed up golf and give people a viable alternative to the long form of the game,” SPRINT6GOLF founder Tom Critchley told the BBC. “”Can you play golf in an hour? Yes, you can. Very simply, it is six holes on a 30-second shot-clock. The moment you put your bag down the clock starts and people get on with it.”
The speeded-up format shares some similarities with cricket, where the traditional form is undergoing a slow death and the Twenty 20 version of the game has successfully brought in younger fans that weren’t interested in watching a match take five days. Tennis and snooker have also experimented with speeding up the form.
How ambitious is SPRINT6GOLF? ”Our vision is very much to go to the professional game,” Critchley said. “I want to see the best players in the world play this.”