Hoping perhaps to have the same galvanizing effect on golf as
the Twenty20 explosion has had on cricket interest, British Open
organizers the R&A decided to take a lead this week by launching
a new nine-hole event to be played at Royal Troon.
Amateurs will get the chance to try out the Scottish links on
July 9, the week before the best golfers in the world turn up at
the course to take part in the Open.
To further indicate the growing interest in the shorter form of
the game, the prize fund for the Farmfoods British Par-3
Championship in Warwickshire, hosted by Tony Jacklin from July
26-29, has risen by 20 percent to a record 150,000 euros
"I'm really pleased to see the R&A taking the lead in this
area," triple major winner Padraig Harrington said in a
"For amateur golfers to be able to play the Open venue in
championship condition immediately before the best players in
the world is a fantastic initiative, and I'm sure this new
competitive format will encourage more people to get out on the
course," the Irishman added.
R&A research has highlighted the challenges many face in finding
enough hours to play 18 holes. Sixty percent of golfers surveyed
recently said they would enjoy the game more if it took up less
"We... will be promoting this format as a way of playing golf in
less time which can have wider appeal among people who lead
increasingly busy lives today," said R&A chief executive Martin
Jacklin believes more par-three layouts need to be built to
encourage players back on to the fairways and greens.
"A tremendous amount of golfers around the world are 50-plus,
they come to that time in life when they ... get shorter in
distance and less physically capable," the 1969 British Open and
1970 U.S. Open champion told Reuters last May.
"I think par-three golf offers a great opportunity for the
social intercourse that's enjoyed by golfers."
($1 = 0.8867 euros)
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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