Jul 6th, 2017
Tour Chief Pelley throws down the gauntlet
To golf clubs to modernise the game
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Chief executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley, has thrown down the gauntlet to golf clubs to modernise to help grow the game.
Pelley has concerns that clubs that stick by traditional rules could be hurting the sport, which has suffered from a fall in participation over the last 20 years.
“In terms of the golf clubs themselves, I challenge them,” he said.
“I challenge them to think differently. I challenge them to look beyond the rules that have always been there and I think this is critical for the success of our game going forward.
“There are always going to be clubs who stand above the rest but it is all those other golf courses that will succeed and become even more profitable if they engage more people. The way they are going to engage more people is by thinking outside the box. Let them in. What we don’t want to be is a sport for the elite.”
In an interview with The Guardian, Pelley says he has been surprised by how golf is perceived in the UK.
“When you look at golf from a UK perspective, I thought it would be higher in the psyche than it is,” he said.
“That led me to the fact that we need to loosen some of the traditions and open up the game to a much younger generation.
“I remember during the interview process, talking about: ‘Are you willing to change? Are you willing to look at all facets of your business and be open to adaptation of any aspect of the game?’ They were emphatic that they were. If you aren’t willing to change, you run the risk of falling further and further behind the phenomenal experience that is Premier League football.”
“I think people are getting sick and tired of watching tour rounds that are five, five–and–a–half hours long. I understand that, people don’t have the time. Speeding up the game is one of the most important things we need to do.
“For a 13– or 14–year-old to sit in front of a television for five hours watching golf is not realistic. For them to play golf two or three times a week for that long, with everything else they have at their disposal, is not realistic,” he said.
“That’s where creativity needs to come in. That’s where innovation needs to be at the forefront. I do see a world where there are 72–hole tournaments and there are 10 to 15 of them but all the others have a different format. A format that engages people in a completely different way.
“I think we have to move with the times, moving accordingly with whatever technology is out there, be that virtual reality, live PGA Tour streaming via Twitter or whatever it may be.
“[For spectators] play the actual hole that you are watching on your broadcast, right there. So if somebody makes a putt for an eagle on the 15th at Augusta, you can do it in your living room. It will happen, it’s going to happen. To be in the shoes of that professional, even just for a second, I do believe that is the future.
“I think a stadium event will happen. Wouldn’t it be terrific to have an incredible video board where you have players on the pitch, so you can see every single shot by every single player? It would be a completely different consumption of the game. Maybe that’s where the six–hole games goes. Maybe it becomes stadium sport.”
We are all ears Keith. Why don’t you drop by to the GolfPunk Clubhouse in Southport, and we can share some ideas? We'll drop you an invite.