The Pearls Golf Premier League gets underway this week, with eight teams of four players competing over three 14-hole rounds at Aamby Valley Golf Course in Pune, India.
Darren Clarke and Angel Cabrera feature in this new format event, which seeks to emulate the success of Twenty20, the shortened form of cricket that is played in the popular Indian Premier League and is well established in other major cricketing nations.
Each of the eight teams includes two international players, one Asian Tour star and an up and coming Indian golfer, selected in an auction held in Mumbai in January. Some of the 14-hole rounds will be played in the evening under floodlights. Founded by Indian golfer Shiv Kapur and golf events specialist Neeraj Sareen, the aim of the new concept is to raise the profile of the sport in India and elevate the country’s position in world golf.
Amber Valley course designer David Hemstock has been supporting the management team with the preparation of the course for the event, and is also working on a new 18-hole course in northern India for the Pearls group which is sponsoring the tournament. “There is a novel and pragmatic view of golf emerging from India in particular, with shorter and quicker forms of the game being actively progressed. There are many prestigious golf developments going on in the country, but also a desire by developers to fit practical golf facilities into their scheme. These include par three courses, sub-5,000 yard layouts and even a five hole course requested by one recent client. It’s good for golf.”
There have been a number of experiments with shorter forms of golf aiming to increase popularity of the sport. The nine-hole PowerPlay Golf event held at Celtic Manor Resort in Wales in May 2011 and featuring Graeme McDowell and Paula Creamer was televised by Sky Sports, but has failed to gather further momentum.