Despite the sporting spotlight having been firmly on the Royal and Ancient game for a full seven days during The Open Championship at Carnoustie, many at grass-roots level are concerned that golf is not doing enough to reverse a slide in playing numbers and club memberships.
With an average round of golf lasting more than four hours, critics claim that golf is becoming increasingly out of step with a ‘time-poor‘ society, which only the retired can truly enjoy. Golf clubs and equipment manufacturers have struggled for new takers.
PowerPlay Golf, which was launched to great acclaim earlier this year, is a shortened yet highly strategic and competitive game which aims to help ‘time-poor‘ golfers play more often. And golf clubs across the country are set for a summer of PowerPlay Golf with the announcement that the first 100 venues have signed up to stage their own events using the breakthrough 9-hole, 2-flag format.
Devised and managed by former Walker Cup captain and chairman of selectors, Peter McEvoy OBE, PowerPlay Golf is just like normal golf but with one key difference: each green on the 9 holes has two flags, one a white flag in an ‘easy‘ position and one black in a tricky ‘Sunday afternoon‘ spot.
Each golfer has to choose to play for the ‘skull ‘n‘ crossbones‘ black flag on three holes during the 9 holes. Double Stableford points are on offer for scoring birdies or better.
“I wanted to create something for the regular golfer that would give that real competitive fix over 9 holes,” explains McEvoy. “Strategy is a key part of it and choosing when to take your PowerPlays can make or break the round. So it’s fantastic for TV, too – golf’s version of Twenty20 cricket.”
Delighted by the response from elite players and golf writers who first trialled the game in the spring, McEvoy has been taking PowerPlay Golf around the country in a nationwide roadshow designed to gain support from golf clubs. And the response has been overwhelming.
“The good news is that over 100 clubs have already formally agreed to stage PowerPlay Golf events this summer,” confirms McEvoy. “The list is growing all the time. Open Championship and European Tour courses have already signed up. It’s a great advert for PowerPlay Golf, it seems to have hit the spot for many of our golf clubs and we‘re thrilled that they‘re supporting us.”
With the news that PowerPlay Golf is making such inroads into the grass-roots game, McEvoy’s next move is to put the game on to TV.
“I doubt if the Open Championship will be switching to two flags any time soon,” laughs McEvoy, “but we are well advanced in discussions towards a significant TV golf event. There is room for traditional golf and for PowerPlay Golf, too. It’s all about making the game of golf itself more attractive to a whole new generation of players.”
More details about PowerPlay Golf are available on the introductory website www.powerplay-golf.com A full-scale website will be launched in August 2007.