Dubai: With the global golf calendar becoming heavier and busier each year with lucrative events across the European and PGA Tour and other areas also catching up, the name of the game is to ensure audiences and one of the big ways is to innovate.
No one has done that better than Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive. A great believer in speeding up the game and making it more engaging for younger generations and promoting through social media and TV, Pelley reckons the innovations like Hero Challenge, the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth, Belgian Knock-out, Golf Sixes and the Jordan Mixed Masters is the way to go for golf in the future.
Never has there been such a major upheaval in pro golf as we have known for more than 100 years. Sure, the PGA Tour has its Zurich Classic of New Orleans with two-man teams, but that is not a patch on how European Tour has been bringing changes in pro golf at a sanctioned Tour level.
European Tour’s approach on social media has also seen a huge change with videos engaging with fans like Henrik Stenson and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston surprising a kid with a chance to travel with them holding the Claret Jug or a group of pros trying to set a world record by playing a single hole in the fastest time and so on.
The idea is a few laughs in golf bringing in a lot of people, who otherwise may not pay much attention to golf.
While the Hero Challenge has been a precursor to the main event with a select group of elite players battling it out on customised tee-grounds at iconic venues ranging from the Edinburgh Castle to Canary Wharf and the latest is the Nassimi Beach at the Atlantis in posh Dubai.
Leading the star cast is the Lee Westwood, who last week ended a four-year title drought, and is also the winner of the first DP World Tour Championships held exactly 10 years ago.
Westwood is also one of the past Hero Challenge champions, having won the event at the British Masters last year.
India’s own Shubhankar Sharma, Ryder Cup captain, Thomas Bjorn, 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, the reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, and the two-time Race to Dubai winner and 2016 Open Champion Henrik Stenson.
The event will be held under the stars and with special lighting at the beach and telecast live on SkySports.