I was delighted to attend the ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth last year. The tournament was a huge success and revolutionary for the game of golf. During the week we also announced a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour of Australasia and we are delighted to enjoy such a strong relationship with Gavin Kirkman and his team, as well as with our tri-sanctioning partners for the tournament, the Asian Tour. The World Super 6 Perth was something that we spoke about at great length to our tournament committee, led by chairman Thomas Bjorn. We are thrilled to participate in this because, at the European Tour, we believe that golf needs to look at new and innovative formats.

How would you like to see a portion of a tournament – or a single, exclusive event – played within the confines of three holes, enclosed by grandstands, using different tee boxes? What if there were a match in which two players could use only a 1-iron and a wedge? Mixed-gender teams, age-group showdowns, more nation versus nation?

Keith Pelley
Keith Pelley

These are the type of things we have an open mind on. Faster, different, surprising and dramatic is where golf needs to head. The 72-hole strokeplay tournament will always be at the core of any tour. But the future growth of the sport is going to demand some interesting departures. Everything is on the table. The World Super 6 Perth is just the beginning.

Pro golf is entertainment. The idea is to be entertaining and fashionable, to make watching irresistible and our tournaments the place to be. What drives all entertainment is creativity. You need a working culture in which our employees can unleash their imaginations without restraint. We want daring ideas and want them put into action. We want our people to reek with positivity and know they have permission to fail. I want them to know that my first answer to their ideas will tend to be “yes” rather than “no” or “maybe”. Some awesome ideas – or at least kernels of ideas – have come from this already.

But here’s the deal: we will never mock the game, cheapen it or diminish its integrity. I think we know where the out-of-bounds stakes are. A 1-iron from 120 yards, yes; to a clown’s mouth, no. But I think the transition to a younger generation demands that we tiptoe nearer the subjective lines. Not just in how the golf is played, but how it’s presented at the highest levels. The game’s got to be faster, even more exuberant and be more a reflection of the young people we’re praying will fall in love with this wonderful game.

When I was in high school in Toronto, my best mate and I started a DJ business. We called it 4D Sound, and our slogan was, “Music that takes you one dimension beyond.” We started with albums, went to tapes and, eventually, CDs. I’m certain I’ve been to more wedding receptions and heard more renditions of the “Chicken Dance” and “The Hokey Pokey” than anybody in golf. As we were considering adding music to tour events recently, I thought back on those days. It occurred to me that the “Chicken Dance” was a metaphor for golf. If we don’t continue to modernise, we’re going to be left standing in the same place flapping our arms.

It would be irrational for me to view the European Tour as being in direct competition with the US PGA Tour. If you want to compare us in terms of resources and bottom lines, then perhaps a good analogy is Pepsi versus Coke. But I relish us as a slightly different brand, very much global and expanding. Like Pepsi, we’re quite successful, and we lead in many markets outside the US. We’re in a position where we’re perhaps less protective and have all kinds of room to explore, innovate and lead.

A last example of innovation is the introduction of a shot clock. We did it at the GolfSixes. It was a formidable challenge for us. When did we start the clock? How long did we allow? But we’re trying to distinguish ourselves by emphasising pace of play. We’ve issued many fines over the years – we keep the details in-house – but it’s an ongoing concern. We all know that young amateur golfers copy tour players, and we want to give them something good to emulate.

Could there be a true world tour? I’m asked that a lot, the idea of a tour distinct from the European Tour, US PGA Tour and other tours. One that would possibly be conducted jointly. We’ve studied it in a limited way. Conceptually, the idea holds water. For now, I pride the European Tour as being a global tour already. We play in 26 countries on several continents. It could happen in the future, but it’s a fairly long way out.