So there we were. A small group of golf journalists gathered on a frosty morning in North London. Almost in the shadow of the new Wembley Stadium, we were part of golfing history.
How significant an historical moment it proves remains to be seen, but we may have been part of something that can provide a significant boost to the game. Already plans are afoot to introduce it to professional golf.
We were at Northwick Park, the excellent six hole facility that trades on the concept of providing “golf in an hour” on an immaculately maintained course consisting of replica holes from some the world’s most famous courses.
R and A Chairman of Selectors Peter McEvoy is among those behind the project and a new playing format aimed at providing a 20/20 version of the game.
Sports management giants IMG are being courted to try to establish a televised professional event and members of clubs in the Middlesex area will have the chance to try it later this year.
It’s called “Power Play Golf”. Based on the Stableford points scoring system the format is designed to make the most of risk and reward strategies.
Played over nine holes, each green has two holes; one in a relatively easy location, one in a very demanding position.
Each player is allowed three “power plays”. This is when you opt to go for the difficult pin. Should you score a gross or net birdie (normally three points) or better you are rewarded with double points.
You have to nominate your “power play” on the tee and there is the option to go for a fourth one on the closing hole.
In the version we played, the last was a par three and there were a further three points on offer for getting the ball inside a 15 feet radius of the pin. If you decided to take this option you risked losing two points if you failed to hit the target.
So if you are a 28 handicapper (with two shots on the hole) you could gain 15 points for a hole in one!
This is obviously an extreme example, but it does show the potential for keeping a match alive until the closing hole.
Now if ever you want to get together a bunch of cynical spoilsports then invite a hoard of journalists. If a dampener can be found we’ll be the first to locate it. Yet after the initiation of “Power Play” golf there wasn’t a hint of criticism.
Instead there was general agreement that pro golf does need some modernisation, that it can’t be solely reliant on 72 hole strokeplay tournaments and that this format – with some gentle tinkering – might prove the answer.
For the record the winning score for nine holes was 29 points. I didn’t get near it but if I’d just done a bit better with my power plays……