Twenty20 has taken cricket to heights never seen before, and now golf is hoping the same formula can revive wilting interest in the sport.
Peter McEvoy, leading British amateur golfer and now golf course designer and administrator, has come up with PowerPlay Golf, an exciting new format played over nine holes, where golfers attach tougher pin positions to achieve better scores.
Played over nine holes, there are two flags on each green -- with bonus points on offer for golfers, who score nett birdies or better when going for the difficult Black Flags.
"We realised the audiences were dropping steadily maybe because golf was taking too long. So we took the examples of Twenty20 cricket, five-a-side football in England or the seven-a-side Rugby that will soon feature in the Olympics and came up with a shorter and exciting format for golf too. We believe in the mantra that half the time, twice the excitement," said McEvoy, a former victorious captain of the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team.
The new format will make its debut in Asia with the Signature Club Golf Championship, to be held from September 26 to December 14 this year, at more than 40 clubs across 30 cities in the country.
The new format was launched in Mumbai by McEvoy and Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia, who has been named as the glamour ambassador for the tournament.
"In PowerPlay Golf, players can choose to play to the easy white flag or the more difficult Skull and Crossbones black flag. If they score a birdie or better to the black flag, they earn double points. Each golfer is compelled to take exactly three PowerPlays in the first eight holes while having the option of the fourth PowerPlay on the final hole," McEvoy added.
The veteran golfer believes that for the sport to make a breakthrough in India, the country needs to find a champion or a world beater in the lines of Tiger Woods.
"I am sure there will be a Tiger Woods in India too. You just need to drag off him from the cricket field and on to the golfing greens," McEvoy said.
He further emphasised that the shorter form of golf is suited for a country like India because the facilities are easy to create for the nine-hole format.
"It is also compatible with the Indian psyche which is evident with cricket and the IPL that the Indian fans love fast aggressive sport."
The game was first played by 16 UK golf journalists at Playgolf Northwick Part Golf course in London on February 6, 2007. Since then the format has expanded its reach with 140 UK courses set up for the format, 14 in Australia and 30 in South Africa.
David Kemp, a 3-handicap golfer from Surrey won the first ever National PowerPlay Golf Championships at Hampton Court Palace Golf Club in London on September 6, 2007.
The world's first dedicated PowerPlay Golf course is currently under construction in East Kilbride, Scotland.